Friday, November 18, 2005

Corporal Punishment Smackdown

There's a bit more evidence to put on the mountain-high pile of evidence on physical abuse and it's effect on children. In the study I'm going to cite, they're very nice calling it "physical punishment":
Physical Punishment Increases Kids' Risk of Aggressiveness, Anxiety

Even if it's a normal part of the culture, physical punishment makes children more likely to be aggressive and anxious, says a study of 336 families in six countries.

Researchers interviewed mothers and children in China, India, Italy, Kenya, the Philippines and Thailand.


No matter the country, all children who were subject to physical discipline were more likely than other children to show higher levels of aggression, anxiety and other emotional problems, said the study published in the journal Child Development.
They did find the effects mitigated in countries that routinely use corporal punishment:
However, the study did find that these problems weren't as bad in countries where physical discipline was more common and culturally accepted compared to countries were physical discipline was less accepted, BBC News reported.
Mitigated doesn't mean gone.

You've really got to wonder if there's a correlation between these findings (this study is one of many finding the same thing) and this post about American's accepting torture as legitimate? After all, if an individual grows up expecting to be hit at times by those in authority, that would be "normal" for them....right? It's a well-known fact that Americans are heavy users of corporal punishment, used more extensively in "red states". I haven't done the research, but I'd bet that the approval of torture correlates to corporal punishment.

I've also wondered about the correlations to physical abuse and the problems between the sexes, i.e. men (who were abused by mothers) who hate women and women (who were abused by fathers) who hate men. But that's a whole other post.

Being a parent is a very difficult job. Using physical punishment is a holdover from a time in human history when people just didn't have the technology or the time to work at teaching children without resorting to being physical. It was also during these times that children could benefit from being a bit on edge; a bit anxious. When life is harsh, anxiety is a good thing serving a survival purpose. In other words, the parents physical behavior mimic the real world.

But the people of the United States do not live (as of this writing) in that world. The skills increasingly necessary to function successfully in a modern world include the ability to logically, and lovingly, relate rather than having a strong back, or being hypervigilant. Unfortunatley, cultural and technological change occur much more quickly than people do. (see Future Shock)

The best model of parenting that I've seen along these lines is "Parenting with Love and Logic" by Foster Cline and Jim Fay (I am not affiliated with them). This method is far from indulgent using important skills to set firm limits with children, without using any violence. But, as I said above, it takes education, time and work.

Parenting is a lot like the old saying I often cite....."Pay me now, or pay me later". Parents generally find that the investment in good parenting does pay off handsomely in later years resulting in resilient teens and self-reliant adults.

And, oh by the way, society benefits too.


At 12:18 PM, Blogger Lynne said...

As a kid, I would rather have gotten a spanking than having to stay in my room and miss my favorite tv show! That was the worst!

Course, that's back in the ancient time when kids didn't have a tv, stereo, phone, computer, etc. in their room.

I agree with your post.


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