Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Why people defend corporal punishment


Save the Children organization
Hitting people is wrong - and children are people too


Corporal punishment of children is a very personal issue:
most people were hit as children; most parents have hit their children. We do not like to think badly of our parents or our parenting. This gets in the way of compassionate and logical consideration of the arguments.

Challenging parents’, other carers’ and teachers’ rights to hit children often provokes emotional reactions. That is not surprising: corporal punishment is in most countries still a deeply embedded traditional practice, a habit passed down from one generation to another as part of the child- rearing culture, and in some cases supported by religious belief.


Children need discipline, and particularly need to learn self-discipline. But corporal punishment is a very ineffective form of discipline. Research has consistently shown that it rarely motivates children to act differently, because it does not bring an understanding of what they ought to be doing nor does it offer any kind of reward for being good. The fact that parents, teachers and others often have to repeat corporal punishment for the same misbehaviour by the same child testifies to its ineffectiveness.

Smacking, spanking and beating are a poor substitute for positive forms of discipline which, far from spoiling children, ensure that they learn to think about others and about the consequences of their actions.



This is What Happens When You Hit Your Kids

Denise Cummins Ph.D.
Sept. 19, 2014


1. Honoring your parents doesn't mean doing exactly what they did.

Our parents and grandparents accepted many things that we no longer find acceptable today: Jim Crow laws, smoking and drinking when pregnant, advertising jobs as "Help wanted: Male; Help wanted: Female", and so on. We've come to see that many of these traditions and beliefs were wrong, and we quite reasonably reject them. It is possible to love your parents and reject their traditions or beliefs. It is possible to accept that they were doing what they believed to be right at the time while simultaneously choosing not to do or believe those things.


A rational person changes his or her beliefs when reality turns out to contradict those beliefs.

The data show that punishment must be age-appropriate, and must be used when appropriate. Mild spanks may be acceptable for children aged 2-6, older children should be disciplined in non-violent ways, and parents with anger issues or abusive tendencies should avoid physical discipline entirely.


Even when using physical punishment on a young child, you must be sure punishment is really called for in the circumstances. I once saw a father and young son (about age five) bicycling along a busy road, the father following the son. The father was beside himself with rage because his son simply would not keep his mind on the road. Everything seemed to distract him. The father finally lost it, pulled his son off his bicycle, and swatted him hard on the bottom. "What you're doing is dangerous", he yelled, "You could be killed! You have to pay attention!" What the father failed to understand is that his young son was not capable of ignoring all of those distractions. His son was getting punished for failing to do something he was incapable of doing. A child that age is more capable of following someone on a bicycle than leading. The reason for this is biological: Self-control and focus is the function of the brain's frontal lobes, and the frontal lobes are not fully developed or fully connected to the rest of the brain until early adulthood.


tags: child abuse, corporal punishment

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