Corporal Punishment on Children: Danger and Impact

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Corporal Punishment on Children: Danger and Impact

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement opposing the striking of a child for any reason / Photo by Getty Images


Raising a child has never been easy. Parents should always prioritize them above all and make sure that they will grow as kind and productive individuals. Parents indeed play a vital role in a child's overall development, which is important as they grow into adults while also dealing with their behaviors and tantrums. This can be extremely hard especially if parents are not that knowledgeable enough to handle their children. 

In some cases, parents use force or punishment to teach their kids lessons whenever they commit mistakes or exhibit bad behaviors. Physical punishment is accepted all over the world until now, as a form of teaching them good manners and right conduct. In fact, a survey conducted by the Harris Poll in 2013 showed that 81% of the people in the United States privately support spanking children.

The same poll also showed that older generations are more accepting of spanking with 88%. At the same time, 85% of baby boomers, 82% of Gen X parents, and 72% of Millennial parents approve of corporal punishment.

But physical punishment not only happens at home but also in school. According to an article by the Very Well Family, paddling is still allowed in many public schools in the United States. In fact, the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights reported that there's an estimate of 223,190 students who have been paddled during the 2005-2006 school year.


What is Corporal Punishment and Why is it Dangerous? 

For the past decades, corporal punishment has remained a hot topic that is widely debated by experts and parents all over the world. It raises the question of whether this could lead to child abuse and if it is the right way to discipline kids. The National Association of School Psychologists defined corporal punishment as "the intentional infliction of pain or discomfort and/or the use of physical force upon a student with the intention of causing the student to experience bodily pain so as to correct or punish the student's behavior." 

Some of the common forms of corporal punishment include spanking, pinching, slapping, pulling, and hitting with an object. It may also include forcing children to consume unpleasant substances, such as hot sauce, soap, and many more. Most of the time, parents use physical punishment because they see this as an effective, important, and useful tool in teaching kids how to behave. Although there have been a number of studies that showed corporal punishment can cause a number of negative outcomes particularly to a child's overall development, spanking is still practiced in many countries. 

In 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement opposing the striking of a child for any reason. They stated that spanking is not recommended and if done, parents should calmly tell their children why they did it. However, corporal punishment has remained ineffective since it causes long-term negative outcomes. In fact, it can only worsen behavior problems over time. Previous studies showed that spanking children increases aggressive behavior. 

Corporal punishment is also one of the reasons why children are more likely to suffer developmental disorders / Photo by Getty Images


Additionally, corporal punishment only teaches children to solve problems with violence. Research also showed that physical punishment quickly loses effectiveness over time because it stops being a deterrent since children don't learn how to make better choices. Spanking has been also linked to lower IQ. A study in 2009 published in the Journal of Aggression Maltreatment and Trauma discovered that the stress associated with physical punishment takes a toll on a child’s brain development.

Corporal punishment is also one of the reasons why children are more likely to suffer developmental disorders. A study in 2012 published in Pediatrics reported that extreme physical punishment is linked with increased chances of anxiety disorders, mood disorders, substance abuse, and personality disorders.

According to an article by Motherly, corporal punishment can also become an ongoing cycle of abuse. A study in 2011 published in Child Abuse and Neglect showed that children who experience spanking are more likely to use the same approach with their own kids. Corporal punishment perpetuates itself and it's very difficult to break that cycle. Moreover, it only teaches children to fear and avoid their parents, which ruins their relationship. 

Banning Corporal Punishment

With several studies showing the negative outcomes of corporal punishment to children, many countries have already banned any type of it including spanking. It was Sweden who first initiated to ban corporal punishment in 1979. After that, a lot of other nations, such as Brazil and Germany, have also made spanking children illegal. Recently, Japan's Cabinet approved an amendment banning parents from inflicting corporal punishment upon their own children. 

According to a report from the Japan Times, this decision was in line with many cases where children are extremely mistreated just to be disciplined. In an interview, Masao Maruyama, a professor of criminal law studies and child abuse at Nanzan University, said that the amendment “has no effect on parents capable of some of the most extreme child abuse instances we’ve seen in recent months. It is instead meant to dissuade more typical parents with no such proclivity from ever crossing the line."



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