corporal punishment, spanking of children: The pro-spanking position
While many countries now outlaw the physical punishment of children, only Austria and the Scandinavian countries completely ban hitting them. However, in the United States, corporal punishment of children by parents is legal and widely practiced. It is also legal in the educational system, despite the fact that it is prohibited in the schools of almost all other industrialized nations. The US, Canada and one state in Australia still continue the practice. Thirty-one of the states in the U.S. have banned corporal punishment in their schools. The twenty three others continue to allow teachers to hit and paddle their students when they deem it necessary (Corporal Punishment Fact Sheet). As a nation, we have been slow to understand the harmful effects that hitting has on our children, and we continue to defend our right to continue to hit them. We do not seem to be concerned that spanking and physically punishing our children creates a new generation who will in turn, continue to physically hurt their children. Based on our belief in the value of corporal punishment we are, in fact, likely to encourage our children to use it on our grandchildren.
Schools, Black Children, And Corporal Punishment | …
This so-called "research study" takes CP figures from the top ten paddling states and attempts to match them to data about such diverse matters as the murder rate, reading proficiency levels, and unmarried mothers. The paper then grudgingly concedes that a statistical correlation does not prove a causal relationship, and lamely attempts to meet this point by quoting various other documents. Some of these are purely anecdotal and others are "studies", such as those by Dr Murray Straus, which had nothing to do with school paddling but looked at the spanking of toddlers by their mothers, an entirely different subject.
Quite aside from any other considerations, several of the "top ten" paddling states in fact have very low percentages of students paddled. In Texas, for example, the figure looks large in absolute terms, but represents less than 1% of students. How likely is it that something directly affecting such a small proportion of a given population is going to have, of itself, a measurable effect on the wider society in the whole of that area? The paper concludes with the bald assertion that "corporal punishment in public schools clearly has disastrous effects on children and communities", having in fact wholly failed to demonstrate any such thing.
For my own explanation as to why statistical juggling exercises of this sort are invariably a waste of time, see on my Questions and Answers page.
Corporal punishment in the form of spanking (even in infancy) is the most common way children are punished in America. Slapping, hitting and beating with the hand or straps and other instruments closely follow. NBC News has reported that about 90 percent of U.S. parents spank their children. In addition, a 1992 survey reported that 59 percent of pediatricians support the practice ("When Spankings Are Abuse"). It is important to recognize that in our society most parents and many of our infant and child care authorities, do not classify spanking as hitting or physical punishment. By a magnificent denial of reality, it is often described as a "love tap" or "pat' or "harmless swat" or "loving reminder". Since spanking has traditionally been administered in the United States to almost all children for generations, it is considered a natural part of growing up, the same as feeding. Other more bizarre methods of corporal punishment, such as burning children with fire and other forms of heat, having them kneel on hard objects, or forcing them to stand for many hours, are less common than they once were, but they are still practiced today. We do not know the current extent of their use, nor do we know the current extent of other kinds of physical torture. Throughout civilization, until fairly recently, there have been various kinds of commercial items produced to punish children; including whips, the notorious cat of nine tails, cages, and various shackling devices (Beekman). Since these products are no longer openly advertised and sold, one would expect, or at least hope, that they are not used any more to punish children. While many countries now outlaw the physical punishment of children, only Austria and the Scandinavian countries completely ban hitting them. However, in the United States, corporal punishment of children by parents is legal and widely practiced. It is also legal in the educational system, despite the fact that it is prohibited in the schools of almost all other industrialized nations. The US, Canada and one state in Australia still continue the practice. Thirty-one of the states in the U.S. have banned corporal punishment in their schools. The twenty three others continue to allow teachers to hit and paddle their students when they deem it necessary (Corporal Punishment Fact Sheet). As a nation, we have been slow to understand the harmful effects that hitting has on our children, and we continue to defend our right to continue to hit them. We do not seem to be concerned that spanking and physically punishing our children creates a new generation who will in turn, continue to physically hurt their children. Based on our belief in the value of corporal punishment we are, in fact, likely to encourage our children to use it on our grandchildren. It is frightening that many parents, educators, and others who are involved in child care today act out on children the cruel physical imposition that was inflicted on them by their parents and other care-givers while they were growing up. But even more frightening to me than the passage of physical cruelty to children through generations, is the passage of the belief that punishing children is a necessary part of raising them. Even parents and child-care experts who do not believe in corporal punishment advocate other kinds of punishment such as "time-out" and "logical consequences". (Salk, "When Spankings Are Abuse"). Although many of these methods, which are designed to get children to behave, are viewed as appropriate ways to discipline children, they are, in reality, punishments, the purpose of which is to get children to obey their parents' rules and regulations by imposing on them parental power and authority. The following are some of the ways, other than physical punishment, that are frequently used by parents to punish their children. These were not originally or specifically created as tools to help parents to get their children to behave properly. In general, these methods have been borrowed from the traditional methods used to punish adults who had committed crimes or violated laws, rules, customs, or conventional ways of behaving. Isolation and Confinement Isolation and confinement usually go together. A child is sent to his room, or made to stand or sit in a corner and usually not permitted to be with, or relate to others. The currently popular "time-out" is, of course, confinement, and also isolation, if the child must be alone during the "time-out" period. Less openly discussed forms of this type of punishment are the practices of tying up or chaining children, locking them in rooms, closets, cars, sheds or other areas of confinement. In general, isolation and confinement are for a brief time. However, it is not uncommon for the time period to extend into hours, and although much less common, can extend sometimes to days, weeks, and even months. Basically, isolation and confinement give children the message that they are inferior and unfit to be with other humans. Many children, if they are frequently punished in this manner will come to believe that they are different, "crazy" and unfit when compared to other children who do not seem to require or receive this type of banishment from society. Often, as they mature, these children act in accordance with what they have been made to believe about themselves. Deprivation
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Age restrictions. In general, statistics show that the most typical recipients of corporal punishment in the USA are boys aged 13 through 17 -- much as in pretty well all other cultures since the dawn of time. But in the great majority of American school districts, there are no age limits: the recipient may be any age from 4 through 19. Twelfth-graders, who might have been driving automobiles for three or four years, or having legal sex for two years, can be and are spanked in some high schools. In certain places, such as (which does not use CP at the elementary level at all), it has been reported that most of the district's paddlings take place in grades 9 through 12. Some anecdotal accounts suggest that these students, especially if male, can expect to be paddled a lot harder, stroke for stroke, than younger recipients: "It does hurt pretty bad," says an Alvarado twelfth-grader in about visiting the office to opt for three "pops" in lieu of suspension.
Convention on the Rights of the Child - Wikipedia
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