Entries in Discipline (3)


Could Spanking Children Cause Harm in Adulthood?, Canada) -- Physical punishment such as spanking, pushing, grabbing or slapping in childhood could do more harm than good, according to researchers.

A study, authored by Dr. Tracie Afifi of the University of Manitoba and colleagues, suggests that childhood spanking could be linked to adult personality disorders.  The researchers found an increased risk of substance abuse and anxiety, mood and personality disorders in adults who reported physical punishment in their childhood. Between two and seven percent of mental disorders are attributable to physical punishment, researchers reported in the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

If not a firm connection, but the researchers say there's at least an association between physical punishment of children and mental problems when they grow older.  Child psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic Kate Eshleman, who was not involved in the study, agrees.

"There is no direct link.  The study just shows that kids that have been physically disciplined are at an increased risk for these things," Eshleman said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics already opposes spanking and Eshleman says spanking is not an effective way to change behavior. She suggests other methods such as removing privileges when children are doing things they are not supposed to do.

"You know, taking a break from the things that they want to do. Or, for older kids, you know, taking away cell phones," she said.

Eshleman cautions that physical punishment affects every child differently and should be avoided despite individual cases where this kind of discipline produced seemingly positive results.

"Certainly there are kids who have been, you know, spanked who have turned out just fine. But, if there are things that we know place people at an increased risk, and we can avoid these things, we certainly want to do so," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Should Your Child Be Spanked at School?

Peter Dazeley/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It is one of the most controversial methods of child discipline, but spanking in school -- usually with a wooden or fiberglass paddle -- is still allowed by law in 19 states. The practice is most prevalent in the Midwest and South.

According to a report from the Juvenile Information Exchange, more than 28,500 students in Georgia were spanked in 2008, mostly in rural counties. The number is much smaller in Florida -- around 3,600 last year -- but that's where the issue is getting new attention.

For the second year in a row, a Florida lawmaker is trying to ban corporal punishment in schools there; last year the measure never made it to the floor for a full vote.

Opponents of the ban say spanking is matter of tradition and good old-fashioned discipline. But at least one Florida mom is suing to stop the practice. Tenika Jones says the principal at the Joyce Bullock Elementary School in Levy County paddled her 5-year-old so severely last April that he cried for hours, triggering an asthma attack, which in turn required a trip to the emergency room.

The boy was spanked for roughhousing with another student on a school bus. Jones said her son had welts on his buttocks, missed a week of school and still has nightmares about the incident.

"That's child abuse to me," the 32-year old told reporters, "If they don't want us to hit our kids, they shouldn't either." Principal Jaime Handlin declined to comment, citing the on-going legislation, but she did tell the Willston Pioneer newspaper that "nothing was violated."

She added, "I disciplined out of love, not anger."

Researchers have found that spanking can increase aggressiveness in children and can even hurt the mental development of young children.

"Corporal punishment doesn't get us the results we want," said Deborah Sendek, program director of the Center for Effective Discipline, a group that advocates against corporal punishment. "You can get the same result from an intervention – simply telling and teaching children to stop the behavior."

Sendek says the practice is not only ineffective, it can also teach children that hitting is acceptable. Sendek, who has worked with abused and neglected children for three decades, says children who are hit ultimately learn to avoid the punisher, not the behavior.

She cited a number of instances in which children were seriously injured and asked why so many American children are subject to this type of punishment.

"We're not allowed to hit a prisoner. We do not hit in the military," Sendek said, "Why do we give prisoners more protection than we give our schoolchildren?”

Even if parents do not agree with corporal punishment, there is little they can do to guarantee that their child will not be hit by an administrator if she or he misbehaves. Sendek says her group suggests that parents who want to opt out of that type of discipline should send a letter to the principal and school administrators at the beginning of each school year, and make sure that their concerns are put in the child's permanent record. She also recommends reviewing the school district's disciplinary policies and voicing any concerns at parent/teacher conferences or school board meetings before a child is ever hit.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Black Students More Likely to Be Disciplined, Survey Finds

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Black students face a greater chance of being disciplined than their peers in public schools, new data from the Department of Education suggests.

A survey of 72,000 schools serving 85 percent of the U.S. found that black school children accounted for 35 percent of those who had been suspended once, even though they made up only 18 percent of the students sampled.  The percentage jumped to 46 among those who had been suspended more than once and to 39 among those who had been expelled.

Compared to their white classmates, black students were found to be three-and-a-half times more likely to be suspended or expelled.

American Civil Liberties Union senior legislative counsel Deborah Vagins, who pushed for the data's release, said, "There's several concerns that are happening in our nation's schools, not just school discipline, but obviously also the re-segregation of schools.  Our schools are becoming more and more racially isolated."

And, as she explained, this can be detrimental to a student's performance.

"Data shows that the more racially isolated students are, the worse it is for their academic achievement," Vagins said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio