Corporal Punishment Should not Be Used Against Children

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About this sample


Words: 1733 |

Pages: 4|

9 min read

Published: Apr 29, 2022

Words: 1733|Pages: 4|9 min read

Published: Apr 29, 2022

In Canada, there are a number of laws and policies in place to ensure the safety of all Canadians, especially those who are the most vulnerable in our society – children. In our society if a crime is witnessed, we are able to call or report it to the police. We take for granted the feeling of being protected and having safety while walking down the street as we know that law enforcement and the community are on watch and can intervene if needed. At the touch of a few buttons, we can have emergency responders arrive to us in minutes. However, not everything is visible in the public sphere of life as many things go unnoticed and happen behind closed doors, and often in the home. The use of corporal punishment has been linked to negative developmental outcomes for children, yet it is still legal to use corporal punishment on a child. This essay will discuss the effects of corporal punishment, why parents use corporal punishment on their children and if this style of parenting should be used. A decision made by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004, ruled that there were limitations on the use of corporal punishment. It cannot be used on children under 2 years old and over 12 years old, or a disabled child of any age. It also stated that it could not be degrading or inhuman or harmful, and that it can not include the use of any type of object like belts or rulers.

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​Research has shown that exposure to domestic violence has long-term effects, with adverse effects on intrapersonal thoughts, emotional health, social skills, learning, and physical health. The argument being that if the research shows that domestic violence has long term affects, we shouldn’t be allowed to use corporal punishment on children. Corporal punishment can be defined as the uses of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain, but not injury, for purposes of correction or control of the child’s behavior’. Some parents use this as a parental style on their children; when for example, the children don’t behave or do as they are told, some parents will use corporal punishment when they see fit.

When a parent uses corporal punishment on their own child, it can interfere with the relationship and development of trust that is forming between the parent and the child. This in turn will make the child less likely to comply. If the child is always living in fear of being punished, then the attention of the child is focused on the consequences to himself or herself rather than it being the consequences of his or her behaviour. If the child only complies when being controlled by corporal punishment, once the punisher is absent the child’s internal motivation to comply is weakened. Spanking is the most common corporal punishment used on children. The younger the child is the more likely to have corporal punishment used on them. If the parenting style changes from punitive to non-punitive, research shows that the child’s aggressive behaviour scores as low as those who parent solely using non-punitive. It doesn’t seem to be used efficiently by parents once their child hits the age of 9. It is hard to know exactly how hard the child is being slapped, as some adults spank more than others. 

In a traditional family household, the mother is more likely to use corporal punishment than the father. Parents previous experience themselves with corporal punishment will affect how they parent their child. A research has shown that parents who are hit as children are more likely to hit their own children. Cultural and subcultural norms may influence the use of corporal punishment in addition to the parent’s past history with corporal punishment. 

When parents use corporal punishment, they may not realize the extent to which they are spanking their child. For example, abusive parents spank their children more often than non-abusive parents and that excessive spanking may be a risk factor for child abuse. Therefore, relying on the spanking may increase the potential use of severe and frequent physical punishment being done. 

​In the past, corporal punishment was used by parents, as well as teachers, for religious reasons. If you used to be left handed in school the teachers would spank your hand with objects such, as rulers so you wouldn’t use your left hand to write; the reason being that the left hand is associated to the devil’s side. It was forced upon many people to change their dominant writing hand from left to right simply for religious views, and suffered corporal punishment for it. My grandmother being one of those people who unfortunately can’t write very legible today as she is right handed by being forced at school. It is believed that this form of child punishment would beat the sins out of the child. The child must benefit from the discipline being used. Which goes further into detail to explain that a child’s age and disability can affect the child’s ability to learn from the use of force. That the force must be “reasonable under the circumstances” and “not offend societies views of decency”. The term “reasonable force” up to the individuals own interpretation which can also lead to it being misinterpreted. Sometimes the law needs to step in and remove children from their parents if the treatment and punishment that the children get are too severe. On the other hand, some parent’s choose to use corporal punishment as it is believed to be an effective tool in correcting bad behaviour, reinforcing respect and obedience, protecting the child from harm, teaching life lessons, and preparing them for life’s challenges. It was perceived in the past that if corporal punishment is being used, then you are considered a good parent, and even can be seen as a sign of caring.

​On the other hand of the argument, we have those who are strong advocates against the use of corporal punishment completely, as they perceive it as immoral. We have laws in place to protect adults and even pets from being harmed, yet children can be. This puts the child at risk and can even be potentially abusive as well as distressing. This violates our Canadian Charter of Freedoms and Rights and is seen as an ineffective way to correct “misbehaviour”. Those who are opponents to the use of corporal punishment, stress that it is a violation of the human rights and goes against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children are the most vulnerable, and parents are those who make sure that they are safe, but it puts in question if the child is safe when they are being punished physically at their parents own discretion. We don’t allow adults to get hurt physically by others, but we allow them to hurt those who are vulnerable. During childhood development, children learn by observing and mimicking. If they see their parents hit them or slap them while they are mad the child, the child might mimic that behaviour when they get mad, as well as that is what they see happen as a consequence of getting mad. Some children might begin using some of the corporal punishment being used on them towards other classmates at school, such as when getting in an argument with another child about playing with a toy. The child growing up in the punitive environment would be more likely to use an aggressive or physical behaviour compared to the child who isn’t punitive. We cannot legally correct the misbehaviour of someone above the age of 12 in our society with physical force, and it is argued that it should be the same for children as well. Some people see corporal punishment as a way for parents to assault their children, a right granted to adults by the government and section 43 of the Criminal code. In general, we should be protecting those who are the most vulnerable who need protection and have rights just like any other Canadian or person in the world. 

Parents turn to corporal punishment for many reasons. They might have been raised with corporal punishment themselves, they don’t know other parenting styles to use as an alternative or simply because nothing else seems to work. There are many problems that can arise and even worsen when spanking a child. It models aggression, and children are more likely to do what their parents do than do what their parents say. It can make the child feel shamed as they see themselves as “bad” and can develop some issues with self-esteem. A child who feels shame won’t learn or be motivated to improve their behaviour. It isn’t a parenting style that you can follow after the child reaches a certain age, therefore children will outgrow corporal punishment as they get older and parents should find an alternative way to punish their child, taking away an electronic device for a day can be more effective than spanking the child. Too often parents rely on corporal punishment to fix behavioural problems which could end up developing the problems further. Parents should explore all types of disciplinary styles, but most don’t search for an alternative.

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​To conclude, corporal punishment has been a parenting style for a long time and used throughout generations. It would be very difficult to eliminate all corporal punishment in the household, as it is often not seen, and it is allowed in section 43 of the Criminal code. Parents are going to parent their child how they deem acceptable but there needs to be more education on the effects of corporal punishments and other methods of punishment that they can impose. There is not one sole way of parenting a child properly, and every parent has a right to choose how to discipline their child. With further overall education on corporal punishment, we can change the way society views it. Overall corporal punishment can be used effectively, but how often, how severe and the reason is not always appropriate. One child in a household may correct their behaviour after having corporal punishment and the other sibling in the household may not, where the removal of an electronic device may be their corrective form of punishment. Corporal punishment shouldn’t be the only form of punishment used on a child as it is extreme and should be used as a last resort.

Works Cited

  1. Benjet, C., Kazdin, A. E., & Spanking, C. T. F. O. A. (2003). Corporal punishment by parents and its impact on children: Challenges for public health and implications for research. Aggressive Behavior, 29(6), 531-548.
  2. Durrant, J. E. (2008). The law and corporal punishment in Canada. Child Abuse Review, 17(2), 83-101.
  3. Gershoff, E. T., & Grogan-Kaylor, A. (2016). Spanking and child outcomes: Old controversies and new meta-analyses. Journal of Family Psychology, 30(4), 453-469.
  4. Gershoff, E. T., Lansford, J. E., Sexton, H. R., Davis-Kean, P., & Sameroff, A. J. (2012). Longitudinal links between spanking and children's externalizing behaviors in a national sample of White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian American families. Child Development, 83(3), 838-843.
  5. Larzelere, R. E., & Kuhn, B. R. (2005). Comparing child outcomes of physical punishment and alternative disciplinary tactics: A meta-analysis. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 8(1), 1-37.
  6. Larzelere, R. E., & Kuhn, B. R. (2014). Patterns and outcomes of spanking and verbal punishment by age 3 and age 5. Parenting, Science and Practice, 14(2), 71-94.
  7. Lansford, J. E., Wager, L. B., Bates, J. E., Dodge, K. A., & Pettit, G. S. (2012). Forms of spanking and children's externalizing behaviors. Family Relations, 61(2), 224-236.
  8. O'Leary, S. G., & Vidmar, M. (2005). Marital aggression, co-parenting, and preschoolers' externalizing behavior in families with paternal alcoholism. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 14(3), 343-358.
  9. Strassberg, Z., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1994). Spanking in the home and children's subsequent aggression toward kindergarten peers. Development and Psychopathology, 6(3), 445-461.
  10. Talwar, V., Carlson, S. M., & Lee, K. (2011). Effects of a punitive environment on children's executive functioning: A natural experiment. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108(3), 542-560.
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