TORONTO (Reuters) – Spanking children can cause long-term developmental damage and may even lower a child’s IQ, according to a new Canadian analysis that seeks to shift the ethical debate over corporal punishment into the medical sphere.
The study, published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, reached its conclusion after examining 20 years of published research on the issue. The authors say the medical finding have been largely overlooked and overshadowed by concerns that parents should have the right to determine how their children are disciplined.
While spanking is certainly not as widespread as it was 20 years ago, many still cling to the practice and see prohibiting spanking as limiting the rights of parents.
That point of view highlights the difficulty in changing hearts and minds on the issue, despite a mountain of accumulated evidence showing the damage physical punishment can have on a child, says Joan Durant, a professor at University of Manitoba and one of the authors of the study.
“We’re really past the point of calling this a controversy. That’s a word that’s used and I don’t know why, because in the research there really is no controversy,” she said in an interview.
Well, there you have it. The Science is Settled. There is no controversy. Our masters have spoken. Obviously parents should have no right to discipline children as they see fit. What do they know?
I like this part.
“What people have realized is that physical punishment doesn’t only predict aggression consistently, it also predicts internalizing kinds of difficulties, like depression and substance use,” said Durant.
“There are no studies that show any long term positive outcomes from physical punishment.”
I think better behaved children might be a positive outcome. Since spanking has fallen into disrepute, more and more children have become ungovernable brats. I could make some sort of connection but I am obviously not qualified to dispute Settled Science.
With the study, Durant hopes parents will start to look at the issue from a medical perspective.
“What we’re hoping is that physicians will take that message and do more to counsel parents around this and to help them understand that physical punishment isn’t getting them where they want to go,” she said.
She also hopes that countries that allow the practice – including Canada – will take another look at their child protection laws.
Because we can’t allow parents to decide how to raise children. It takes a village, or at least governments to do it right.
And, to conclude with some comedy,
Canada is one of more than 190 countries to have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a 1989 treaty that sets out protections for children.
The treaty – which has been ratified by all UN member states except for the United States, Somalia and South Sudan – includes a passage stating that countries must protect children from “all forms of physical or mental violence”.
Somehow the fact that states such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have signed this treaty has not prevented the practice of honor killings in these countries. But then, that treaty is not about the welfare of children. It is about eroding the concept of national sovereignty. This study, I suspect, is not about spanking. It is about giving the state an increased opportunity to intervene in private life.
Remember, “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.”
- Spanking makes kids more aggressive, should be illegal: Report (theprovince.com) Actually, I’ve found just the opposite to be true.