Should Spanking Be Banned?
Bills have been introduced in legislatures in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and California to ban all physical punishment of children. So far none has been successful. States have already acknowledged the harmfulness of physical punishment and it seems it is only a matter of time before such legislative efforts will be successful. A majority of states already ban its use in schools, day care, child care centers, institutions for children, and foster care.
Should corporal punishment be banned in all settings for children, even homes?
What Is Corporal Punishment?
Corporal punishment is the intentional infliction of physical pain to punish misbehavior. Corporal punishment often used against children includes spanking, pulling ears, pinching and hitting with instruments like belts, whips, electric cords and paddles.
A Human Rights Issue
Proponents of banning corporal punishment of children say it is a human rights issue. In the US, corporal punishment was once lawful for wives, slaves, military personnel, people in institutions, and prisoners. Laws have been passed to give all adults protection from this practice. We continue to allow children, the smallest and most vulnerable people in our society, to be hit. Some people say a law against hitting children is an abuse of parents' rights. Do we consider it an abuse of husbands' rights to prohibit hitting wives? "People are not for hitting and children are people too", says Kansas psychologist and EPOCH-USA Advisory Board member, John Valusek.
Reducing Physical Abuse Of Children
Many child abuse experts have called for an end to corporal punishment of children as a means of reducing childhood physical abuse. In most cases, physical abuse begins as "discipline", hitting or shaking a child. In each state hundreds and sometimes thousands of children are physically abused each year. See: physical abuse statistics by state at the Administration for Children and Families, Child Maltreatment 2006 Table 3-5, Victims by Maltreatment Type at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm06/table3_6.htm.
Studies show that actual rates of abuse are much higher. We continue to spend billions of dollars on child abuse treatment. Banning corporal punishment of children in schools has led to far fewer physical paddling injuries. Likewise, banning corporal punishment of children in homes would reduce physical abuse in those settings.
International Progress In Protecting Children
More than 20 countries, mostly in Europe, have banned corporal punishment of children in all settings including homes. Over 100 countries have banned corporal punishment in schools. These legal actions were taken to reduce physical abuse of children and give children the right that other human beings have to be free from physical harm. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child through its Committee on the Rights of the child has called on all member states to ban corporal punishment of children and institute education programs on positive discipline. An international study on violence against children commissioned by the UN General Assembly calls for a ban on all corporal punishment of children. The author of the report, Dr. Sergio Pinheiro says that calling for an end to all corporal punishment is challenging but "Children's rights to life, survival, development, dignity and physical integrity do not stop at the door of the family home, not do states' obligations to ensure these rights for children".
Should Corporal Punishment Of Children Be Banned? YES.
Center for Effective Discipline, Nadine Block Executive Director, Updated June 2008