Why Physical Punishment Does Not Work
“I’m sick and tired of violence… I’m tired of war and conflict in the world. I’m tired of shooting. I’m tired of hatred. I’m tired of selfishness. I’m tired of evil. I’m not going to use violence no matter who says it!” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
All human beings are born with universal built-in feelings. Darwin, Tomkins, Ekman, and others have shown that human babies are born with various responses to stimuli. These we call feelings: interest, enjoyment, surprise, distress, anger, fear, shame, disgust. As we get older, these responses combine with experience to form our more complex emotional life. In other words, feelings cause behaviors!
Overview of Physical Punishment
Physical punishment is a major public health problem. Approximately 60 percent of adults still approve of physical punishment, despite compelling evidence that it does not work, it makes things worse, and there are more effective alternatives. Physical punishment involves the use of physical force in order to correct or punish the child’s behavior. This includes hitting, pinching, whipping, slapping, and so on. One is not permitted to hit one’s spouse or a stranger; these actions are considered assault and battery. Why in the world should one be permitted to hit a smaller and even more vulnerable child?
Studies show that children who are hit are more likely to become aggressor themselves, i.e., bullies and future abusers of their children and spouses. They tend to learn to use violent behavior as a way to deal with disputes. If hitting a child is not wrong, then nothing is wrong.
Research on Physical Punishment
The evidence shows that physical punishment is stunningly harmful at every developmental level. analyses of hundreds of studies document that physical punishment is associated with: verbal and physical aggression; delinquent, antisocial, and criminal behavior; poorer quality of parent-child relationships; impaired mental health; and later abuse of one’s own spouse and children.
The International Community and Physical Punishment
there is an international consensus that the physical punishment of children violates international human rights laws. 37 countries have now prohibited physical punishment and The United States is not one of them. Among these countries are Sweden, Germany, Spain, Greece, and Venezuela. More than 100 countries have banned physical punishment in schools but, Remarkably, It is still legal in 19 states in the United States.