The September 2012 issue of The Canadian Medical Journal has just published the work of Joan Durrant PhD and Ron Ensom, MSW, RSW. These two authors have looked at twenty years of research that indisputably says – physical punishment has no place in effective child rearing.
I’ll quote from the conclusion in their article:
“The evidence is clear and compelling – physical punishment of children and youth plays no useful role in their upbringing and poses only risks to their development. The conclusion is equally compelling – parents should be strongly encouraged to develop alternative and positive approaches to discipline.
Effective discipline rests on clear and age-appropriate expectations, effectively communicated within a trusting relationship and a safe environment.”
This summer the American Academy of Pediatrics released a study linking harsh physical punishment including pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping or hitting to later mental illness. Researchers found that between 2 and 7 per cent of mental disorders were attributable to physical punishment in childhood (The Globe and Mail, Wednesday, September 5, 2012, L6.)
The message is clear. Spanking, even a tap on the bum, is out. As parents we need to learn non-physical ways to gain compliance. We need to control ourselves and find ways that don’t involve using our superior strength to overcome a smaller person. Surely with our adult smarts we can learn how to remain calm and effective, gaining our children’s respect and love.