Dianne DeSantis: What is being taught by hitting?

June 4, 2009

Dianne DeSantis asks in The Examiner,

If a child does not know how to behave, how did they learn that behavior? Should a parent be allowed to hit a child because of the way he or she behaves?

Think about these questions. Would you be motivated to change your behavior because someone hit you? Why or why not? Would you feel violated? What makes hitting a child different than hitting an adult? What is being taught by hitting, spanking, or threatening?

The short term effect from spanking is that children will learn to avoid the behavior, avoid the parent, or how to be sure the parent does not see or learn about undesirable behaviors, but not to reason, think for themselves, or make better decisions.

The long term effects are embedded memories of either mild discomfort to pain, violent behavior, an unpleasant experience, confusion, stress, animosity among family members, unhappiness, sadness, fear, emotional reactivity, dislike for the facilitator, low self esteem, learned avoidant behaviors, and the most profound emotion attached to spanking or physical harm is anger. Many people who are taught to behave appropriately by way of spanking, threats, or physical harm become angry adults.

The whole article poses important questions about the effectiveness of physical punishment on children, and is well worth a read.

Plunket Barnardos Save the Children Unicef Jigsaw Ririki Parents CentrePaediatric Society Womens Refuge Epoch

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