I attended the first Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment and Promoting Positive Discipline, June 2-4, hosted by S.M.U. psychology professor George Holden, Ph.D. in Dallas. Attending were activists representing twenty one countries who are dedicated to abolishing all forms of spanking, paddling, slapping, hitting and smacking of children world wide. We discussed studies that show corporal punishment produces no positive outcomes and is associated with increased aggression, as well as behavior and mental health problems. It also fosters lower IQ, poorer academic performance, and increased bullying.
Children's rights advocates Robert Fathman, Nadine Block and Jimmy Dunne at the Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment and Promoting Positive Discipline, 2011.
Currently twenty-nine nations have passed laws banning corporal punishment of children in homes beginning with Sweden in 1979. Ask any group of adults if they would like to be hit and the answer will always be no. Being hit is painful, humiliating and can cause injuries. If anyone hits an adult, whether a friend, stranger or spouse they will likely be arrested and charged with assault.
Dr. George Holden, the event's organizer
Children do not have this equal protection under the law but they should. It is perfectly legal in Texas for parents and caregivers to whip children with bare hands, paddles, extension cords and belts because of a misguided law passed six years ago. It is also legal to paddle school children with wooden paddles in Texas even though it is against the law in thirty-one more child-friendly states. Thankfully the Texas legislature recently passed Rep. Alma Allen's HB 359 which gives parents the right to deny corporal punishment for their children as a discipline measure in districts that still allow this discredited policy. The bill awaits Gov. Rick Perry's signature.
At the Dallas conference, I talked to people from London, Paris, Israel, Thailand, Ethiopia, Australia and New Zealand who are all working to end corporal punishment of children.
Research shows that corporal punishment is ineffective as discipline and poses only risks to children's development. Sixty-five percent of three year olds in a sample of nearly 2,000 families had been "spanked" by one or both parents in the previous month.
A study which tracked corporal punishment of 3-11 year olds from 1975 to 2002, found that 18% fewer children were slapped or spanked by caregivers in 2002 compared with 1975. However, in 2002, 79% of preschool-aged children were spanked and nearly half of children aged eight and nine were hit with an object such as a paddle or switch.
Parents are role models for children's behavior. When we hit, slap or spank, we are teaching our children to hit. When we cuss, children learn to curse.
Violence hampers children's development, learning abilities and school performance. It inhibits positive relationships, promotes low self-esteem, emotional distress and depression.
When you finish reading this article, just remember the following: 1) It is never OK to hit a child. 2) Spanking teaches children to hit. 3) People are not for hitting and children are people too. 4) It is no more acceptable to hit your child than to hit your spouse. 5) Children deserve the same respect and protection under the law that adults enjoy.
Jimmy Dunne, Pres. People Opposed to Paddling Students, 1306 W. Brooklake Dr., Houston, TX 77077 281.584.9707 www.nospankingzone.org