"...the use of corporal
punishment in schools is intrinsically related to child maltreatment. It
contributes to a climate of violence, it implies that society approves
of the physical violation of children, it establishes an unhealthy
norm...Its outright abolition throughout the nation must occur
immediately." - U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect,
"The fundamental need of
American education is to find ways of engaging today's children in the
thrill of learning. Fear of pain has no place in that process." The
Christian Science Monitor, 1989-MAR-21
It is ineffective: Spanking a child will stop the child from misbehaving for the
moment, but studies have shown that the child's compliance will only last for a short
time; corporal punishment actually increases the child's non-compliant behavior in the
future. Psychologist H. Stephen Glenn said
"Corporal punishment is
the least effective method [of discipline]. Punishment reinforces a
failure identity. It reinforces rebellion, resistance, revenge and
resentment. And, what people who spank children will learn is that it
teaches more about you than it does about them that the whole goal is
to crush the child. It's not dignified, and it's not respectful." 1
It may trigger criminal, anti-social, violent, aggressive
behavior later in life: A longitudinal study of 442 boys born in
1972, found that one out of every three boys -- those who have a
specific version of a gene -- who was maltreated during childhood will
be almost certain to exhibit anti-social or criminal behavior as an
adult. Maltreatment was defined as including physical abuse. If this is
true for boys subjected to physical abuse, one wonders if the violence
associated with conventional levels of corporal punishment could also
trigger some level of violent or aggressive behavior later in life?
Unfortunately, researchers do not yet know what
level of violence is needed to trigger the negative adult behavior. It
can be argued that, in the absence of precise data, parents should err
on the side of caution and avoid spanking at all costs. More details
It has been linked to many adult problems.Corporal punishment studies have linked
spanking during childhood to higher levels of adult depression,
psychiatric problems, and addictions. Another study shows that children
who were spanked have a lower IQ when compared to children whose parents
used other methods of discipline and control.
It can escalate to abuse: Because a spanking works for a while, the parent often
repeats the spanking whenever the child misbehaves. Corporal punishment may then become a
standard response to any misbehavior. This can lead to increasingly frequent and harsher
spanking which can exceed the "reasonable force" threshold and become
abuse. According to the Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse, "85% of all
cases of physical abuse result from some form of over-discipline through the use of
corporal punishment". Each year about 44 Canadian children are known to have been
killed by family members; 35 of them by parents. The figures for the United States
probably about 10 times higher.
It can unintentionally cause serious physical damage:
Boxing on the ear can burst an eardrum.
Shaking can cause a concussion, whiplash, blindness, serious brain damage, or even
Spanking can injure muscles, the sciatic nerve, pelvis, coccyx (tail bone), genitals or
Hitting a child's hands can injure bones, blood vessels, joints and ligaments; it can
induce premature osteoarthritis.
A child who is hit can accidentally fall and seriously injure themselves.
It trains a child to use violence: Spanking can teach children that it
is acceptable for the strong to use force against the weak -- the concept "Might
makes right" is regularly reinforced. They have an increased likelihood of becoming
more aggressive towards their siblings, their fellow students, and (later in life) against
their spouses and their own children. Violence as a way of behaving is a learned response.
Slapping or any other type of force used on the buttocks is a sexual violation:
The buttocks are an erogenous zone of the human body. Their nerve system is connected to
the body's sexual nerve centers. Slapping them can involuntarily trigger feelings of
sexual pleasure which become mixed with the pain. This can lead to confusion in the
child's mind which influences the way in which they express their sexuality as adults.
Spanking may lower a child's IQ: A study at the University of New Hampshire, released in 1998-JUL, found that spanking children
apparently slows down
their intellectual development. 3 A study of 960 children
found an average 4 point reduction in IQ among students, from and
average IQ of 102 (above average) for children who are not spanked, to an average IQ 98
(below average) for who are. A reduction of 4 points is enough to have a significant
negative functional effect on the students. However, these studies only show a correlation between spanking and lower IQ. It does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. More information
Spanking creates fear in the child: Irvin Wolkoff wrote:
"The message a
toddler gets from a slap or spanking is that a parent or other loved
and trusted adult is prepared to induce pain and even do physical harm
to force unquestioning obedience. That's terrifying to a little
kid...However well-intentioned, a slap registers as the shattering of
the whole deal between parent and child. Young children are left awash
in feelings of fear, shame, rage, hostility, self-destructiveness and
betrayal that they can't yet resolve or manage." 2
All but one of the federal governments who are members of the United
Nations have signed it. The lone holdout is the United States.
The Convention defines a child as any "human being below the age of
eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained
"States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and
education measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence,
injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including
sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who
has the care of the child. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include
effective procedures for the establishment of social programs to provide necessary support
for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of
prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and
follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate,
for judicial involvement."
Dr. Halm G. Ginott, et al., "Between Parent and Child: The Bestselling Classic That Revolutionized Parent-Child Communication," Three Rivers Press (2003). Review/order
Philip Greven, Spare the Child: The Religious Roots of Punishment and the
Psychological Impact of Physical Abuse, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., (1990). Review/order
"Corporal punishments always figure prominently in the roots of adolescent and
adult aggressiveness, especially in those manifestations that take antisocial form, such
as delinquency and criminality. Assaults upon children by adults in the name of discipline
are the primary familial models for aggression, assaults, and other forms of antisocial
behavior, delinquency, and crime that emerge when children grow up."
Irwin A Hyman, "The Case Against Spanking: How to Discipline Your Child Without Hitting," Jossey-Bass (1997). Review/order this book
Robert J, Mackenzie, "Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing CLEAR, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries," Three Rivers Press, (2013). Review/order this book
Murray A. Straus, "Beating the Devil Out of Them: Corporal Punishment in American Families and Its Effects on Children," Transaction Publishers (2001). Review/order
"Straus contends that this believed-to-be-"minor" form of physical violence is precursor to much violence that plagues our world. Children who are spanked quickly learn that love and violence can go hand in hand. Since spanking is generally done by loving, caring parents-for the child's own good-a child can learn that hitting is "morally right." Straus describes what he has learned through two decades of research: children who are spanked are from two to six times more likely to be physically aggressive, to become juvenile delinquents, and later, as adults, to use physical violence against their spouses, to have sadomasochistic tendencies, and to suffer from depression. ... Professionals in fields such as social work, child protection, delinquency and criminology, psychology, and politics will find it of critical importance."
Abigail Zeman, "80 Ways to Discipline Your Child Without Spanking," Kindle format (2012) .Review/order
Irvin Wolkoff, "Spanked child can become
self-loathing adult," The Toronto Star, 1999-NOV-26, Page F4.
Jane Gadd, "Spanked children suffer intellectually,"
The Globe and Mail, Toronto ON, 1998-JUL-30
Internet sources of information:
Robert G. Ingersoll, a famous freethinker from the 19th Century
wrote an article "Is Corporal Punishment Degrading? in response to an article
in the American Review, 1891-DEC. See:http://www.infidels.org/
The Center for Effective
Discipline (CED) "provides
educational information to the public on the effects of corporal punishment of children
and alternatives to its use." See: http://www.stophitting.com/ They coordinate two organizations: NCACPS (National Coalition to Abolish Corporal
Punishment in Schools) and EPOCH-USA (End Physical Punishment of Children).
They sponsor a "SpankOut Day, USA" at the end of Child
Abuse Prevention Month (April) each year.
Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE) is a
non-profit organization promoting zero-tolerance for assault and battery against children
since 1978. They have a website "Project NoSpank" which contains many
links. See: http://silcon.com/ Included is an
essay by by Tom Johnson: "The Sexual Dangers of Spanking children" at: http://silcon.com/~ptave/sexdngr.htm
M.A. Straus, "Demystifying the defenses of corporal punishment,"
at: http://pubpages.unh.edu/ Dr. Straus, an opponent of
spanking, cuts a wide swath through traditional rationales for