If You See Another Parent Hit a Child: What Could You Do?
The train was rolling west through the corn and wheat fields, and dusk was starting to settle in. We had been underway about 3 hours, and a little boy of about 5 years was starting to get restless a few seats in front of me. He would peek out, wander briefly into the aisle, stand up on his seat — all to the increasing distress of his mother: “Sit down… can’t you behave?… be quiet!” And, finally, the sound I had been dreading, the crack of flesh against flesh, as she slapped her little boy in the face. He whimpered briefly, she hissed “Now stop it,” and all was ominously quiet.
I can no longer take this. Over the years, I wondered what might be helpful in such situations…
Spanking and Other Physical Punishments — Revisited
Legislation is being introduced in the US House of Representatives to ban physical punishment in schools (HR 5628). Many medical and psychological organizations support this ban and have position statements which condemn physical punishment and offer solutions. These include the American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org), the National Association of Social Workers (www.nasw.org), the National Alliance of Pupil Services Organizations (www.napso.org), and the American Psychoanalytic Association (www.apsa.org).
This issue affects human beings around the world. The Position Statement of the American Psychoanalytic Association is quite complete. It highlights the recent research, the national and international issues involved, and the alternatives and solutions.
Progress in Efforts to Stop Spanking & Other Physical Punishments
Legislation to ban corporal punishment in schools has been introduced in the US House of Representatives. New York Representative Carolyn McCarthy recently introduced a bill “To end the use of corporal punishment in schools ” (HR 5628)
Effective Alternatives to Physical Punishment
Why do children — and adults — behave as they do? The answer always lies in the feelings. Feelings lead to behaviors. Feelings are the motivators of our actions.
The problem with physical punishment is twofold. First, physical punishment elicits precisely the negative feelings one does not want to generate in children, namely, distress, anger, fear, shame, and disgust. Second, physical punishment squashes precisely the feelings one wants to encourage in children, specifically interest and enjoyment.
Why Do We Still Spank (Hit) Children?
Why do we still spank children? The usual answer is to get them to do what we think is best for them — i.e., to obtain behavioral compliance. And, yet, the answer is much more complicated. Dealing with children can stir up very charged and old feelings. The arguments and screaming of a child can push the same buttons that one's own parents or siblings pushed long ago. Or perhaps one does to one's child what was done to oneself: "I was spanked as a child, and I turned out all right." — Yes, but perhaps you turned out all right in spite of the spanking, not because of it … and perhaps things would have been even better if the effective alternatives to spanking which do exist had been utilized.
Infant Child Development & The Problem of Physical (Corporal) Punishment
Physical punishment is associated with an increase in delinquency, antisocial behavior, and aggression in children, and a decrease in the quality of the parent-child relationship, mental health, and the child's capacity to internalize socially acceptable behaviors; adults who have been subject to physical punishment as children are more likely to abuse their own child or spouse and to manifest criminal behavior.