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Corporal Punishment Ban Urged in Evidence-based Paper


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Corporal punishment should be banned nationally and supported by a public education campaign and increased access to parental support, according to a new research paper.

The three-tiered strategy for criminalizing corporal punishment was outlined in the paper which reviewed laws in Australia that allow the practice, international conventions relating to children’s rights, evidence of their negative effects, and the results of legislative reforms in countries that have implemented prohibitions.

Professor Daryl Higgins, Director of the Institute for Child Protection Studies at the Australian Catholic University, was one of the co-authors of the paper published today in Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Professor Higgins said the paper, Corporal Punishment of Children in Australia: The Evidence-Based Case for Legislative Reform, showed that the time for excuses and inaction when it comes to banning corporal punishment in Australia is over. Globally, 65 countries have implemented the ban.

According to the recently released Australian Child Maltreatment Study, for which Professor Higgins was principal investigator, 61% of those aged 16 to 24 had experienced four or more incidents of corporal punishment in childhood.

ACMS research found that while 38% of respondents aged 65 and over believed corporal punishment was necessary when raising children, the number dropped by more than half to 15% for those ages 16 to 24.

Professor Higgins said that while the change in attitude was welcome, the paper published today showed there was a risk in waiting for support for corporal punishment to continue to decline.

Professor Higgins said: “We cannot continue to ignore the compelling evidence that shows that corporal punishment significantly increases the risk of serious lifelong mental health disorders, often accompanies experiences of child abuse and neglect, and undermines a child’s right to a life free from violence.”

“It is time to step up our efforts to help parents and caregivers use positive parenting techniques instead of outdated and ineffective forms of discipline that do nothing but harm children and violate their right to safety.”

The paper argued that corporal punishment has lifelong adverse effects on children including reduced trust and connection with those raising them, reduced self-esteem, increased behavioral and mental health problems, and increased risk of substance abuse.

It found that in countries that changed their legislation and followed this up with public education campaigns and alternative strategies for parents and caregivers, rates of corporal punishment decreased.

The team of 14 leading Australian academics behind the paper advocated a whole-of-government approach and the use of regular national parent surveys to measure the impact of legislative change and to monitor child well-being and the prevalence of maltreatment.

more information:
Sophie S. Havighurst et al, Corporal Punishment of Children in Australia: The Case for Legislative Reform, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.anzjph.2023.100044

Provided by Australian Catholic University

the quote: Evidence-Based Paper Calling for a Ban on Corporal Punishment (2023, May 3) Retrieved May 3, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-evidence-based-paper-corporal.html

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