Corporal Punishment Is Not Alright

Corporal punishment is legal in all states of the United States; it is also legal to use certain implements such as a belt or paddle.

Does that make it ethical?

Corporal punishment of children isn’t uncommon either. More than one third of parents have reported using corporal punishment on children less than a year old, often with a slap on the hand. With more than 85% of American youth have been physically punished by parents during their childhood and/or adolescence. While it is reported that the hand it most often used, more than one in four parents have also reported using an object, such as a hairbrush or wooden spoon, to hit their children, according to a 1995 survey.

In a more recent study made in 2014 a real-time investigation of mothers in Texas found that nearly half used some form of corporal punishment through out the course of the study. Subjects tended to use spanking when angry and for trivial misdeeds, such as minor social transgressions by children. In their book “Eavesdropping on the family: a pilot investigation of corporal punishment in the home”, Holden, Williamson, and Holland observed that the mothers tended to use spanking when angry. And that it was often used for trivial misdeeds.

Further more mothers who spanked, relied on spanking as a punishment instead of using it as a “last resort”. While spanking was often implemented as a control it was not effective in stopping the unwanted behavior.

George Holden stated that, “The recordings show that most parents responded either impulsively or emotionally, rather than being intentional with their discipline”. Those studied resorted to corporal punishment on average of eighteen times per week. Up until that point researchers estimated that corporal punishment was used roughly eighteen times per year. Because of the disparity between the real-time study and studies based on self-reported data Holden believes that the amount of corporal punishment used is dramatically underestimated. And the amount of physical punishment used by parents is much higher.

Corporal punishment in the home is not evenly distributed. Affluent families at the upper end of the socioeconomic scale tend to spank their children the least often. The number increased in middle‑class parents, who tend to administer corporal punishment in greater numbers than their affluent counterparts. Still the highest frequency came from lower‑class parents.

While the publish support of corporal punishment has declined since the 1970’s, support still holds strong around 71% despite the growing body of research which shows it has numerous adverse effects such as aggression, antisocial behavior, anxiety, and depression in children. With popular opinion favoring corporal punishment provided it does not involve implements.

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