** NOTE: This article does not necessarily represent the views of A.A.A as a community, or individual administrators, and is intended to inform and engage only.
The Debate: Should There Be A Global Ban On All Forms Of Physical Punishment For Children?
The Argument For A Spanking Ban
- Most parents would never hurt their kids, but some people lack the self-control, empathy, understanding and education to know how to use physical punishment sensibly and constructively. The main intention behind a ban is to save children of these kinds of parents the suffering and long term damage ill-advised spanking can cause. A spanking ban would prevent child abuse.
- A complete ban would clarify un-acceptable discipline. Without it, some things could be argued to be subjective. What is physical harm? What kind of spanking is ok, and what constitutes child abuse? A spanking ban would entirely wipe out any ambiguity surrounding what is and is not physical abuse. A smacking ban would help to change attitudes about the right and respectful way to treat a child and ultimately, other living things in general. Frequently, incidents of abuse reported by children are not investigated, or the cases abandoned as the abuse is written off as a case of “legitimate punishment”. A total ban enables child protection workers to give the parents of children at risk of abuse a clear message that no level of corporal punishment is acceptable. A parent who still continues to smack their child would no longer be able to hide behind the defence of “reasonable chastisement”.
- Hitting children, in any form including spanking, is a violation of their basic human rights. It is unacceptable to physically attack an adult in anyway and children should be afforded the same basic rights.
- Spanking children teaches them to be violent/aggressive. This has a knock on effect for society resulting in aggressive adults further down the line.
- There are many alternative forms of dicipline, that are peaceful and just as effective, if not more so, than spanking, and with a much smaller risk of harm.
- Spanking is a form of physical abuse and as such increases the risk of mental health problems, social issues and self-esteem disorders later in life.
- Spanking can be a gateway to further more severe and damaging abusive behavior.
- Spanking harms the parent/child relationship and cultivates fear, mistrust and insecurity.
Once we have understood that physical punishment, spanking, slapping, hitting, punching, pushing, kicking,
1) is not effective
2) provocates irreversible damages to the child’s brain
3) is against any kind of basic respect, the question is :
What can we do?
We want to respect our children, but we obviously want them to respect us.
Sweden has been banning any kind of corporal punishement for 33 years now. The result, in term of society model, can be seen now since they have experimented the law for 2 generations. It is clear that :
1) There hasn’t been abusive placing of children in foster care due to abuse denunciation of violence.
2) Figure of child abuse have considerably dropped, and child abuse is not a cause of child mortality anymore
3) Deliquency have not raised (which shows that children are not “worsly” educated. They grow with human values, respect, empathy
So, what are the magical educative methods?
As a mom, I never used physical punishment with my children. My children are now 8 and almost 6. They behave as children, sometimes we have conflicts. But overall, when I get the feeling that their behaviour is not acceptable, I let them know.
I have always considered my children as people. Small and young people, yes, but people with a brain. People with the ability to judge, to analyse, to understand. So when something is not acceptable for me, I let them know. I let them know how it makes me feel. With spank, parents never have the occasion to let their children know how frustrated, exhausted, sad etc they become. The child gets spanked, the parent usually yells and shout, no message can go through because it is all violence, fear, and the parent finally gets “peace and quiet” when the child goes to his room crying.
When such a tense situation comes in my family, I let my children know how I feel. I tell them I need to calm down, they need to calm down…I go scream outside, I go have a coffee. It is no use adding tension and violence. And when we all calmed down, we talk it over. We look for solutions. I try to understand what is in their brain, and I try toexplain to them what is in mine. As a parent, I do not want to become my children’s slave. They always need to know what is acceptable for me.
My children are said to be calm, happy, nice, respectful, social. They are used to give their opinion so they develop a capacity to analyse, situations they experiment with their friends, their teacher, things they see on TV. Both of them are very different. In our house, rules are pretty well defined, and we all signed them, my children, my husband, me.
Sometimes we need to talk it over, but we basically live in respect with one another.
In conclusion, before spanking your child remember that the old says ARE NOT TRUE :
- “I do it for him/her” You never do it for him/her. You bring confusion to his/her small brain, you unconsciously tell him/her violence is a solution. Violence is NEVER a solution when you love someone.
- “I have been spanked by my parents and they taught me the right way, they love me so they did what is best to do”. WRONG. Recent knowledge on brain now shows that violence always provocates damages. At your parents’ time, it wasn’t discovered but recent scientific studies shows the opposite. If only they had known it ! Now, our generation have access to this knowledge. We have no right to go on with the same vicious circle.
The law, the European campaign
1. Children whose parents use corporal punishment to stop their anti-social behavior have, on long term, a worse anti social behaviour
• Gunnoe, M.L & Mariner,C.L (1997) “Toward a developmental-contextual model oth the effects of parental spanking on children s aggression”. Archives in Pediatric Adolescent Medecine, 151(August), 768-775• Kazdin, A. E. (1987). “Treatment of anti-social behaviour in children: Current status and future directions”, Psychological Bulletin, 102, 187-203.• Patterson, G. R., DeBaryshe, B. D. & Ramsey, E. (1989). “A developmental perspective on antisocial behavior”.American Psychologist, 44, 329-335.• Straus, Sugarman, & Giles-Sims (1997), “Spanking by parents and subsequent antisocial behaviour of children”, Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2(2),55-70.
2. When physical abuse usually starts with spanking or other kind of physical punishment. It can lead to a total loss of control :
• Kadushin, A., & Martin, J. A. (1981). Child abuse: An interactional event. New York: Columbia University Press.• Straus & Yodanis (1996) “Corporal punishment in adolescence and physical assault to spouses in later life: What accounts for the link?” Journal of Marriage and Family 58(4),825-841
3. Adults who have been hit during their childhood are more likely depressive or violent themselves :
• Berkowitz, L. (1993). Aggression: Its causes, consequences, and control. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.• Strassberg, Z., Dodge, K.A., Pettit, G.S., Bates, J.E. (1994). “Spanking in the home and children’s subsequent aggression toward kindergarten peers”. Development and psychopathology, 6,445-461.• Straus, M. A., (1994). Physical abuse. Beating the devil out of them: Corporal punishment in American families (pp. 81-98). San Francisco: New Lexington Press.• Straus, M. A., & Kantor, K. G. (1992), Corporal punishment by parents of adolescents: A risk factor in the epidemiology of depression, suicide, alcohol abuse, child abuse and wife beating. Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire, Family Research Laboratory.
4. The more a child is hit, the more he/she will be likely to hit his/her children, spouse, friends :
• Julian, T. W., & McKenry, P. C. (1993), “Mediators of male violence toward female intimates”. Journal of Family Violence, 8, 39-56.• Straus, M. A. (1991). “Discipline and deviance: Physical punishment of children and violence and other crimes in adulthood”. Social Problems, 38, 133-154.• Straus, M. A., (1994). Physical abuse. Beating the devil out of them: Corporal punishment in American families (pp. 81-98). San Francisco: New Lexington Press.• Straus, M. A., & Gelles, R. J. (Eds.). (1990). Physical violence in American families: Risk factors and adaptations to violence in 8,145 families. New Brunswick, NJ: Transactions. • Widom, C. S. (1989). “The cycle of violence”. Science, 244, 160-166.
5. Corporal punishment raise the probability for children to attack their parents when they become old
• Brezina, T. (1998). Adolescent-to-parent violence as an adaptation to family strain: An empirical examination. Manuscript submitted for publication.
6. Corporal punishment sends the message that violence is an option to solve conflicts
• Straus, M.A., Gelles, R.J., and Steinmetz , S.K (1980) Behind closed doors: Violence in American families, Doubleday, New York,• Straus, M. A., Sugarman, D. B., & Giles-Sims (1997). “Corporal punishment by parents and subsequent antisocial behavior of children”. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 155, 761-767.
7 . Physical punishment is degrading and contributes to such feelings as abandon and humiliation. It decrease self esteem and can lead to the building of very shy or aggressive personalities :
• Sternberg, K. J., Lamb, M. E., Greenbaum, C. D., Dawud, S., Cortes, R. M., Krispin, O., & Lorey, F. (1993). “Effect of domestic violence on children’s behavior problems and depression”. Developmental Psychology, 29, 44-52.• Straus, M. A., (1994). Physical abuse. Beating the devil out of them: Corporal punishment in American families (pp. 81-98). San Francisco: New Lexington Press
8. Physical punishment damages the confidence between the parent and the child, and raises the risk of child abuse. As an educative method, it does not lower children agressiveness nor delinquency :
• Straus, M. A., (1994). Physical abuse. Beating the devil out of them: Corporal punishment in American families (pp. 81-98). San Francisco: New Lexington Press
9. Children regularly spanked are more likely to cheat ou steal, to disobey in school or to have bad behaviours :
• Straus, M. A., Sugarman, D. B., & Giles-Sims (1997). “Corporal punishment by parents and subsequent antisocial behavior of children”. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 155, 761-767.
10 . Physical punishment damages cognitive developpment on children. Compared to other children, children with regular spanks have more difficulties with school tasks.
• Straus, M. A., & Mathur, A. K. (1995, April). Corporal punishment and children’s academic achievement. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Pacific Sociological Society, San Francisco. • Straus, M. A., & Paschall, M. J. (1998). Corporal punishment by mothers and child’s cognitive development: A longitudinal study. Paper presented at the 14th world conference of sociology, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Durham, NH: Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire.
Argument against a ban here.
Individual perspective of AAA staff here.