The Negative Effects of Corporal Punishment

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The Negative Effects of Corporal Punishment

By Nicole Stevens

It happens in playgrounds, supermarkets, shopping malls, and home kitchens. A child disobeys,

talks back or misbehaves, and parent responds in frustration and fury. Research shows that 90 percent

of American parents have used spanking at sometime as a means of discipline, despite arguments from

experts that physical punishment neither corrects nor controls a child's behavior in the long run. (Hales)

One common misconception is that discipline and punishment are the same thing. Discipline means

teaching appropriate behavior punishment is simply a penalty not necessarily a lesson. Corporal

punishment has one benefit and that is temporary obedience. However, it has numerous disadvantages

including short term effects, long term affects, and on society as a whole. There are alternative methods

of discipline that are not only better for the child but parent as well.

“Corporal punishment is of limited effectiveness and has potentially deleterious side effects,”

the American Academy of Pediatrics has said in a policy statement. Studies have shown that youngster

who are repeatedly or routinely subjected to corporal punishment are more prone to low self-esteem,

depression, and poor educational achievement. Preschoolers, who usually cannot understand the

difference between what they did and who they are, may conclude that they are being hit because they

are bad. Older children, feeling humiliated, may either withdraw or try to strike back.(Hales) When

physical punishment becomes noneffective it often escalates into child abuse. All too often what a

parent considers legitimate discipline can deteriorate into violence fueled by anger. (Toth, 2011)

Though the benefits of corporal punishment may be short term the effects are not. Findings

indicated that level of corporal punishment is positively related to depressive symptoms, independent

of any history of abuse and the frequency of other forms of punishment. Although parental monitoring

and perceived norms regarding corporal punishment had no direct or moderating effects, level of

parental anger during corporal punishment was the strongest predictor of depression. (Turner, 2004)

Children who are subject to constant physical reprimanding suffer from a host of mental health issues

as a result. As adults they present with disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress, Depression, and

Anxiety to name just a few. Many struggle their entire lives to engage in healthy satisfying relationships and sadly, when they become parents themselves, they often use the same tactics to

discipline their children as the ones that have destroyed their own lives. In choosing a mate these

individuals are frequently drawn to someone who will mimic the violence they experienced in their

childhood as an unconscious way to try to fix what they could not in an abusive parent. It is also

emotionally familiar territory. Children need to feel safe in their home; otherwise they will grow up

feeling unsafe in the world.(Sarnoff-Ross, 2011)

Corporal punishment doesn't just have an effect on the individual, but also on the society as a

whole. Corporal punishment increases the use of violence in society and legitimizes it in the eyes of

succeeding generations. It promotes a double standard: there are two categories of citizens -

children and adults. It's acceptable to assault children, but not adults. Corporal punishment contributes

to broken family patterns:Families where there is no communication between members become

divided into assailants and the assaulted.(UNICEF) Dr. Benjamin Spock once said “Physical

punishment certainly plays a role in our acceptance pf violence. If we are ever to turn to a kindlier

society and a safer world, a revulsion against the physical punishment of children would be a good

start.”...
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