Consequences of Corporal Punishment
Accumulated research supports the theory that corporal punishment is an ineffective discipline strategy with children of all ages and, furthermore, that it is often dangerous. Corporal punishment most often produces in its victims anger, resentment, and low self-esteem. It teaches violence and revenge as solutions to problems, and perpetuates itself, as children imitate what they see adults doing. Research substantiates the following consequences of corporal punishment: • Children whose parents use corporal punishment to control antisocial behavior show more antisocial behavior themselves over a long period of time, regardless of race and socioeconomic status, and regardless of whether the mother provides cognitive stimulation and emotional support (Gunnoe & Mariner, 1997; Kazdin, 1987; Patterson, DeBaryshe, & Ramsey, 1989; Straus, Sugarman, & Giles-Sims, 1997). • A consistent pattern of physical abuse exists that generally starts as corporal punishment, and then gets out of control (Kadushin & Martin, 1981; Straus & Yodanis, 1994). • Adults who were hit as children are more likely to be depressed or violent themselves (Berkowitz, 1993; Strassberg, Dodge, Pettit, & Bates, 1994; Straus, 1994; Straus & Gelles, 1990; Straus & Kantor, 1992). • The more a child is hit, the more likely it is that the child, when an adult, will hit his or her children, spouse, or friends (Julian & McKenry, 1993; Straus, 1991; Straus, 1994; Straus & Gelles, 1990; Straus & Kantor, 1992; Widom, 1989; Wolfe, 1987). • Corporal punishment increases the probability of children assaulting the parent in retaliation, especially as they grow older (Brezina, 1998). • Corporal punishment sends a message to the child that violence is a viable option for solving problems (Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 1980; Straus, Sugarman, & Giles-Sims, 1997). • Corporal punishment is degrading, contributes to feelings of helplessness and humiliation,...
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