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Here’s Why Corporal Punishment Can Negatively Impact Children in the Future

In the Australian breakfast program, ‘Sunrise’, the matter of banning smacking was being discussed. Susie O’Brien, a columnist for the Herald Sun, emphasized her concerns on why smacking your children should not be permitted. She stated that “You can’t smack your dog, you can’t smack your partner, why is it that we still allow smacking of our children? The real issue is that perhaps a tap isn’t the worst thing in the world, but parents, some parents don’t know when to stop and a tap becomes a smack becomes a bash becomes a belt, and overtime smacking becomes less effective and so parents do it harder and more often. You know, if you got a kid who’s hitting his sister, you say “don’t hit your sister” – you hit him to show that hitting is wrong, it just doesn’t make any sense…”

O’Brien’s opinion highlighted the notion that a parent’s need for their child to be obedient can reach to such heights that they begin to depend on corporal punishment as a means to manipulate the behavior of their child. Smacking is then held as a form of control over children and the more abuse projected on them, the more likely they will act accordingly. But, a child may begin to recognize the logic behind corporal punishment and find that their parents’ use of it must have been rightfully so.

A recent study exhibited by The University of Texas Medical Branch has discovered a strong correlation between adults who have been spanked during their childhood and adults who have been physically abusive towards their partners. This study may have regarded the concept that the physical abuse that a parent or guardian inflicts on a child could cause acts of similar abuse towards their future partners. Although many individuals may disagree with this study, knowing that as adults or teens, they have never been or thought of being violent towards their partners, the study is simply analyzing the majority.

The UTMB researchers developed theories as to why the correlation exists, determining that many children tend to view the behavior of a superior adult as a basis for how they should act as well. Thus, children who have been abused by their parent or guardian may have considered this a way of resolving conflict, and could possibly act abusively towards their future partners. Children also begin to value corporal punishment as a means to change the behavior of an individual, as it is often used to somehow ‘apply’ obedience to kids. This verifies to children that if one were to hit someone else, it is likely that their manner will change.

Although there are various reasons behind violence in an intimate relationship, such as the use of drugs, childhood trauma and mental health and well-being, corporal punishment should be a factor considered in such cases.

Photo: DPA

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Shania Rajan
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Shania Rajan is a writer, currently based in Melbourne, Australia.

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