Spanking Remains Common, Studies Show08/12/10
THURSDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Spanking and other forms
of corporal punishment are still common worldwide even though 24
countries have adopted bans on physical punishment since 1979,
according to recent studies.
The researchers noted that spanking has declined in the United
States since 1975, but corporal punishment is still used to
discipline nearly 80 percent of preschool children.
"The findings are stark. Harsh treatment of children was epidemic in all communities. Our data support the conclusions that maltreatment occurs in all nations," Dr. Desmond Runyan, a professor of social medicine at the University of North Carolina (UNC), said in a university news release.
He was lead author of a study that conducted surveys in Brazil,
Chile, Egypt, India, the Philippines and the United States, and
found that rates of corporal punishment were "dramatically higher"
in all communities "than published rates of official physical abuse
in any country."
The study was released online Aug. 2 in advance of publication
in an upcoming print issue of the journal
Runyan and colleagues also found that:
- Corporal punishment was more widely used by mothers with fewer
years of education.
- Rates of corporal punishment vary widely among communities
within the same country.
- Harsh punishment by parents isn't less common in countries
other than the United States, and actually may be more common,
especially in low- and middle-income countries.
Another study, led by Dr. Adam J. Zolotor, an assistant
professor of family medicine at UNC School of Medicine, found that
18 percent fewer children were slapped or spanked by caregivers in
2002 compared to 1975. However, 79 percent of preschoolers were
still spanked in 2002, and nearly half of children aged 8 and 9
were hit with an object such as a paddle or switch.
The findings were released online in advance of publication in
an upcoming print issue of the journal
Child Abuse Review.
"This study shows that the U.S., unlike most other high-income countries, has had little change in the use of corporal punishment as commonplace," Zolotor said in the UNC news release. "Given the weight of evidence that spanking does more harm than good, it is important that parents understand the full range of options for helping to teach their children. A bit of good news is that the decline in the use of harsher forms of punishment is somewhat more impressive."
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