Don’t punish your children. Science says doing so comes at a big cost.

By on November 11, 2017

Corporal punishment is a highly disputed topic among parents who have very strong opinions about whether it is right for a parent to smack a child or not as a form of discipline.

In May 2016, a 7-year old boy went missing after his parents left him out in the woods in Hokkaido, as punishment for throwing rocks at cars. Although the boy found himself a shelter, he was for 6 days without food. After he was found, the father said in an interview with NHK, “In order to discipline him, I wanted to scare him a little and ordered him to get out of the car. Then I was ashamed to admit to myself what had happened.”

In a 2001 incident, a couple tied their son’s hands and feet, put him in a car and left him out in Kudamatsu mountains. The unrepentant father later said in an interview, “I did the same thing before because he does bad things.” “It is of course my place as parent to discipline my child.”

These cases have sparked a debate among parents in Japan as to where to draw the line between discipline and child abuse. The incident had other parents sharing their experience of how the biblical approach worked well for their children. But new findings backed by science says, spanking and physical punishment do serious lifelong damage.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, Spanking and Child Outcomes: Old Controversies and New Meta-Analyses, reviewed and analyzed more than 70 studies in the last 13 years. The evidence-based study concludes that there is no evidence found that spanking corrects a child’s behavior. Spanking has 17 negative outcomes which include anti-social behavior, low self-esteem, impaired cognitive ability, internalizing/externalizing problems, mental health problems, alcohol or substance abuse, aggression and negative relationships with parents, etc.

This tells us that physical punishment does not solve the problem long-term. What does is positive non-physical parenting stragies.

“The United Nations has unequivocally stated that all physical punishment of children, no matter how ‘mild’, violates children’s right to protection from violence and has called for its elimination (United Nations and Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2007)”

(The laws in each country concerning corporal punishment of children)

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected in your neighborhood, or if you are a child who is being maltreated, contact 189.  This service is under the office of  Japan’s Ministry of Health and Labor.

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