User Tools

Site Tools

Why physical punishment for children is absolutely unacceptable


Physical (corporal) punishment, or spanking, is the practice of using violence on children to modify their behavior. Unfortunately, there are still parents who consider this practice acceptable, if not absolutely normal. It is also supported by some public figures with ultra-conservative and authoritarian views, such as the American psychologist James Dobson. He believes that gentle parenting methods alone are not enough; they must be mixed with the infliction of pain on children for disobedience and challenging the authority of parents, as this is the best method of preventing bad behavior[1]. In addition, he argues that authoritarian parenting should help preserve social order and prevent social unrest like that which occurred in the United States in the 1960s. Most people will probably find Dobson's position extremely cruel, misleading, barbaric, inadequate, and even delusional. However, we will still look at the specific arguments against the use of violence towards children.

First of all, it should be noted that corporal punishment simply does not work. Instead of affirming parental authority, spanking only demonstrates parental weakness and frustration[2]. Also, an analysis of 75 studies involving 161,000 children demonstrates that physical punishment does not eliminate unwanted behavior[3][4]. And it leads to 14 significant harmful effects:

– Poorer moral reasoning;

– Increased childhood aggression;

– Increased antisocial behavior;

– Increased externalizing behavior problems (disruptive or harmful behavior directed at other people or things);

– Increased internalizing behavior problems (symptoms of anxiety or depression);

– Child mental health problems;

– Impaired parent-child relationship;

– Impaired cognitive ability and impaired academic achievement;

– Lower self-esteem;

– More likely to be a victim of physical abuse;

– Antisocial behavior in adulthood;

– Mental health problems in adulthood;

– Alcohol or substance abuse problems in adulthood;

– Support for physical punishment in adulthood (it is appropriate to mention Dobson again, who was also beaten when he was a child).

The effects of physical punishment are similar to those that occur due to trauma caused by some other types of childhood experiences, including physical and emotional abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and family mental illness. Also, research has shown that when children are exposed to harmful experiences, they become hypervigilant to the emotional expressions of others, as some of them, such as anger, become associated with subsequent bad actions. In children who have been physically punished, the brain begins to work in the same way as in children who have been exposed to other forms of violence[5]. In addition, adverse childhood experiences can increase the risk of certain physiological problems, such as poorer muscle metabolism[6].

Finally, some researchers believe that punitive political attitudes, including the favoring of war as an instrument of national policy and capital punishment, are consequences of punitive upbringings. Those who have been beaten, terrified, and shamed by parental authorities as children and who have not subsequently benefited from psychotherapy displace their childhood anger onto political issues and outgroups. It is believed that the widespread, abusive child-rearing practices in Germany at the turn of the 20th century played a significant role in the subsequent rise of Nazi supporters[7][8][9].

▶ Discuss the topic "Why physical punishment for children is absolutely unacceptable"

1) Dobson, J. C. (1970). Dare to Discipline
2) Ridgely, S. B. (2016). Practicing What the Doctor Preached: At Home with Focus on the Family. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199755073.001.0001
3) Gershoff, E. T., & Grogan-Kaylor, A. (2016). Spanking and child outcomes: Old controversies and new meta-analyses. Journal of Family Psychology, 30(4), 453–469. doi:10.1037/fam0000191
5) Cuartas, J., Weissman, D. G., Sheridan, M. A., Lengua, L., & McLaughlin, K. A. (2021). Corporal Punishment and Elevated Neural Response to Threat in Children. Child Development, 92(3), 821–832. doi:10.1111/cdev.13565
6) Duchowny, K. A. et al. (2024). Childhood adverse life events and skeletal muscle mitochondrial function. Sci. Adv.10. doi:10.1126/sciadv.adj6411
7) Hall, M., Pilisuk, M. (2012). Some Causes and Consequences of Direct and Structural Violence. In book: Nonkilling Psychology (pp.126-135)
8) Miller, A. (1983). For your own good: Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux
9) Milburn, M. A., Conrad, S. D. (1996). The politics of denial. Cambridge: MIT Press
Last modified: 2024/05/13 16:31 by Volunto

All materials and concepts are free to distribute and use if this website ( is mentioned as the source (CC BY 4.0) CC Attribution 4.0 International
CC Attribution 4.0 International Donate Powered by PHP Valid HTML5 Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki