Corporal punishment of children does more harm than good. This statement has been discussed for centuries, but the public opinion of this practice around the world began to change only in recent decades. One of the possible reasons for such change might be the long-term research, results of which became publicly available. Corporal punishment has shown to be not only harmful to children on a physical level but also may lead to psychological issues while also being ineffective as an approach to discipline. This paper will argue that corporal punishment is very harmful to children and is absolutely ineffective as a disciplinary action.
Argument Against Corporal Punishment
One of the most discussed issues on this topic is the connection of corporal punishment to child abuse. The line that separates them is almost non-existent. Studies have shown that families where corporal punishment is practiced since age 10, are very likely to transition to child abuse in the later ages of the child. In a significant number of cases, children are seriously injured or killed through this process (Fréchette, Zoratti, & Romano, 2015).
The risks associated with corporal punishment on the physical level alone should be enough to consider it an extremely dangerous practice or outlaw it completely. However, there is a deeper level of harm that it brings to the child.
The psychological trauma caused by corporal punishment became a topic of research only relatively recently. Children who are exposed to this type of violence are found to be at a greater risk of poor developmental outcomes in both physical and mental aspects. A study of children aged eight to twelve years old in South Africa found that daily corporal punishment has caused severe negative emotional and behavioral changes in the mental development of children. Violence became a common solution to problems in their lives, and conflict resolution through other means was rarely considered (Breen, Daniels, & Tomlinson, 2015). Children often learn from the behavior of their parents, and when violence against members of the family becomes acceptable, the child is likely to consider using it in everyday life.
Even if a parent decides to disregard the risks of corporal punishment, they are unlikely to be satisfied with the results. Studies show that this practice is overall ineffective as a tool of discipline or teaching. While it may appear that creating a severely negative consequence for misbehavior would prevent the child from repeating this behavior, it is more likely to cause the child to be more secretive about it or move on to more discrete acts of delinquency. Moreover, it undermines the trust between the child and the parent (Gershoff, Purtell, & Holas, 2015). Without a solid foundation through parenting, children may turn to illegal activity as a way of rebelling against their abusers.
The practice of corporal punishment is starting to disappear from modern society. However, some consider it a tradition, and it is difficult to convince them to stop. Perhaps with the use of research studies backed up by strong evidence, this attitude can be changed (Holden, Brown, Baldwin, & Croft Caderao, 2014). Corporal punishment destroys both the physical and mental health of the child while also being completely ineffective as a discipline tool. Hopefully, more people will become aware of this information in the coming years. Otherwise, more children will be at risk of physical and emotional abuse by their caretakers.
Breen, A., Daniels, K., & Tomlinson, M. (2015). Children’s experiences of corporal punishment: A qualitative study in an urban township of South Africa. Child Abuse & Neglect, 48, 131-139.
Fréchette, S., Zoratti, M., & Romano, E. (2015). What is the link between corporal punishment and child physical abuse? Journal of Family Violence, 30(2), 135-148.
Gershoff, E. T., Purtell, K. M., & Holas, I. (2015). School corporal punishment effects on children. In Corporal Punishment in U.S. Public Schools (pp. 37-46). Springer, Cham.
Holden, G. W., Brown, A. S., Baldwin, A. S., & Croft Caderao, K. (2014). Research findings can change attitudes about corporal punishment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(5), 902-908.