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Corporal punishment is a form of discipline that is deeply ingrained in Western society. The bible reads "he that spareth his rod / hateth his son: but he that loveth him his chasteneth his betimes" (Proverbs, 13:24), and this sentiment is clearly reflected in today's disciplinary styles. Research has also shown just how deeply embedded these ideals actually are; ninety percent of parents in the U.S. use corporal punishment as a disciplinary technique with their toddlers, and fifty percent with their adolescent children (Childhood spanking and increase antisocial behavior, 1998). Despite these outrageous statistics, the worldwide plight for child protection has actually been improving. In the 15th century, beating and abuse for educative purposes were commonplace and even considered essential (Aries, 1962), but today corporal punishment is banned in schools in all countries except Australia, Canada, South Africa and the U.S. (Zigler & Hall, 2000). In addition, Austria, Cypress, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Norway and Sweden have further committed themselves to child welfare by banning all forms of corporal punishment, both in school and in the home (University of Alabama, 1998). Corporal punishment has not only been shown to be ineffective in reducing undesired behavior, but it can result in severe physical and psychological consequences, that can have detrimental short and long-term effects on the child. Studies illustrating these points are not new, the consequences of physical punishment have been observed and disregarded on many occasions, yet corporal punishment continues. All these studies indicate that corporal punishment is not only an outdated form of discipline, but also a harmful one that deserves serious reconsideration. A policy similar to that introduced in Sweden in the late 1970's would ban the use of corporal punishment by all authoritative figures (parents and teachers included) and would be instrumental in protecting out children from harm.
Straus (1994) defines corporal punishment as "the use of physical force with the intention of causing the child to experience pain, but not injury, for the purposes of correction or control of the child's behavior" (p.4). From this definition it appears that the only distinction between corporal punishment and physical abuse is the intention of injury. Intended or otherwise, it has been show that corporal punishment can have both long and short-term physical and psychological effects on the child. Due to the very fine line between socially and legally sanctioned physical punishment and physical abuse, parents who use corporal punishment to discipline their children run a higher risk of crossing this line, and physically abusing their children (Parke, 1982). One such example when corporal punishment could unintentionally graduate to physical abuse is when the punishment is ineffective in controlling behavior, and due to frustration parents resort to increased physical severity, injuring the child (Marion, 1982). It has been reported that sixty percent of childhood physical abuse is as a result of a punishment attempt (Zigler & Hall, 2000). As a result of statistics such as these, numerous researchers have concluded that reducing corporal punishment is necessary in protecting children from physical abuse (Gelles & Straus, 1988; Straus, Gelles & Steinmetz, 1980; Williams, 1983)
Corporal punishment has also been found to adversely affect the psychological wellbeing of children. Straus (1994) revealed that increased levels of corporal punishment during childhood and especially during adolescence, led to an increased likelihood of depression in adulthood. Females were found to have higher levels of depression than males, though this is perhaps more of a reflection of the actual population and the way males and females deal independently with stress, rather than corporal punishment itself. Geven (1991) concluded that such a relationship between corporal punishment and depression was due to a latent anger at being spanked, suppressed through childhood and resurfacing later in life. Straus (1994) asserts that the
Terminology mentioned in this term paper
Names referenced in this report
Straus, Campbell, Williams, Bandura, Parke, Marion, Aries, M. A., Zigler, Bongiovanni, Levin, Peterson, King James, Ross, Debbie Campbell., Marion, M., R. H., R. H. Starr, Ronald Press, E. F., M. A., Gelles, R. J.,
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P., Journal of clinical psychology, University of Alabama., Canadian Council, National Institute of Education Conference,
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Doubleday, Sweden, Canada, U.S., Australia, Austria, McGraw-Hill, Norway, Denmark, Finland, South Africa, Italy, Ottawa, Evanston, Cambridge, G.J.,
Health Conditions referenced in this essay
a serious side effect,
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Zigler & Hall,
Companies referenced in this research paper
Simon & Schuster, Ballinger Publishing Co,
Keywords included in this research paper
corporal punishment, physical punishment, physical abuse, behavior, the punishment, New York, child abuse, Bandura, disciplinary, aggressive behavior, social learning theory, child protection, child discipline, child welfare, suicidal ideation, child rearing, psychological, long term, Child development, antisocial behavior, social psychology, adults, family life, Hall, anti social behavior, adolescent, childhood memories, policy, early childhood, Gelles, American Family Physician, Sweden, Canadian criminal code, a reflection, family life educator, Ross, social policy, social history, Western society, incidental learning, risk factor, unintentional injury, South Africa, time lapse, positive parenting, high frequency, fine line, positive reinforcement, clinical psychology, spanked,