The Truth About Spanking/Hitting
California Assemblywoman Sally J. Lieber is introducing a bill to ban corporal punishment of children in homes. It would make it a misdemeanor to hit infants and babies. A majority of states already ban its use in schools. No state bans its use in homes. 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, 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 almost all cases, physical abuse begins as “discipline”, hitting or shaking a child. In New York, 9,031 children were physically abused in 2004 according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Studies show that actual rates of abuse are much higher. We continue to spend billions of dollars on child abuse treatment. Children continue to fall between the cracks of the institutions that were designed to protect them. 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
Sixteen countries, mostly in Europe, have banned corporal punishment of children in all settings including homes. One hundred nine 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. Last year, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution calling for a ban of all forms of corporal punishment of children. An international study on violence against children currently before 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
The Center for Effective Discipline is a non-profit organization which provides information about the effects of corporal punishment and alternatives to its use. It operates two programs, End Physical Punishment of Children (EPOCH-USA) and the National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools.
Contact: Nadine Block, Executive Director of the Center for Effective Discipline, 155 W Main Street #1603, Columbus OH 43215
Tel: 614-221-8829 Fax: 614-221-2110 URL: www.stophitting.org