Posted: March 24th, 2023

A case against Corporal Punishment by Parents

Within the home setting, corporal punishment is administered by parents or guardians. In fact, there are various forms of physical reprimand, including slapping with the open hand or spanking using slipper, belt, cane, or paddle (MacKenzie, Nicklas, Waldfogel, and Brooks 4). The use of corporal punishment is a topic that has resulted in divided opinions, with some people in support and others completely opposed to this punishment approach. Indeed, public attitudes toward the suitability as well as the effectiveness of corporal punishment tend to vary a lot by country and region. For instance, in the United Kingdom and the United States, social approval of spanking has a majority position from roughly 61 percent to 80 percent (Lenta 690). However, the practice has continued to receive opposition by a majority of child welfare organizations and scientific researchers. Under those premises, it is imperative to apply research evidence to present a case against corporal punishment.

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Many parents and guardians have supported and even applied corporal punishment in the name of its effectiveness in improving children’s behavior. However, policy efforts such as Baby and Child Care in 1946 reduced the use of this form of punishment in the 1950s and 1960s. Such efforts have been the genesis in providing evidence of a detrimental effect of corporal punishment on children (MacKenzie et al. 4). Most of the experts in child care have provided evidence for the argument that the use of corporal punishment is unethical and damaging to the child (Mulvaney and Mebert 403). As such, parents and guardians should view their children as individuals who are capable of understanding the right and wrong; hence, they do not have to be spanked to understand (Lenta 695). However, this is unlike the traditional idea that bringing up the children should focus on developing discipline. In fact, it was believed that babies would become spoiled by picking them up any time they cry.  

Social psychologists have suggested that the divergence in scientific deductions vs. popular opinion is founded on cognitive dissonance. Spanking is allowed in the US and the UK, while obvious child abuse is against the law and socially abhorred (MacKenzie et al. 7). Thus, parents who slap their children may find it difficult to acknowledge such research findings. In fact, they feel that accepting that spanking is negative, even in the slightest way, would be admitting that they the aspect amount to child abuse. From the same perspective, those who were submitted to this form of punishment as children may also suffer the same cognitive dissonance. In addition, accepting the theory might be taken to suggest that they have been victimized and that their parents are child abusers (Lenta 701). Both aspects influence most people to dismiss such findings and favor distorted self-reflection and weak anecdotal evidence.

The society continues to fail when it comes to the use of corporal punishment. Parents and guardians who support this form of punishment are mistaken because of the reality that such acts have been revealed in research to be counterproductive in the long run. Experts have been against corporal punishment, suggesting that it encourages negative outcomes such as abuse of alcohol, anxiety, dependence, and other externalizing problems. Nevertheless, in 2010, a longitudinal study performed by Tulane University controlled for some mystifying variables beforehand, suggested that there are negative outcomes in administering corporal punishment on children (Mulvaney and Mebert 408). In essence, the study found out that it is not only those children who are aggressive that are more likely to face this form of punishment.

Corporal punishment and child abuse are the two factors suggest initiating child-parent violence. For children who their parents spank, it is possible to respond in the same manner, thus being violent against one’s parents. Though the response may not be an instance, it might be portrayed later with the child being tempted to hit back at the parent. While child abuse may be different from corporal punishment, the line separating the two might be very thin and for the children the difference might not be obvious. Thus, the effects of the two on the children might be comparable (Lenta 710). For such children, the feeling of avenging for the acts committed by their parents can lead to the children being violent against their parents. Even if some researchers have suggested that violence in children is a biological trait, it is only when this violence is portrayed in a favorable environment.

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The nature vs. nurture debate has been applied to the issue of whether or not corporal punishment is harmful to children. Most of the studies that have been carried out in these areas have established that a child’s environment is to blame for negative outcomes such as violence and aggressive behavior displayed by a child and not necessarily the biological aspects of the kid (Mulvaney and Mebert 410). To support this case, the argument is that with a positive environment, even those children with biological traits prone to violence may turn out to be well behaved. On the other hand, the case against corporal punishment is presented by child-parent violence (CPV), which suggests that children being violent or aggressive towards their parents would even want to cause physical pain to their guardians. Worth noting is that the child’s nature, environment, or surroundings have a major impact on the youngster.

Corporal punishment is not an effective form of punishment and can have negative effects and outcomes for children exposed to it. It is possible for a child to react in an aggressive manner to this practice or become anxious and develop various other psychological disorders. Therefore, the act should not be encouraged to nurture responsible members of the society who are not aggressive or violent (MacKenzie et al. 21). In essence, the parents should accept that corporal punishment is not an effective deterrent but rather dangerous form of punishment that should be discouraged.

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While the issue of whether or not corporal punishment is good and should be encouraged by parents is still controversial. In fact, the evidence against the act seems to be compelling. Indeed, studies carried out have suggested that there are negative effects on children who are subjected to this form of punishment. The environment in which children are reared plays a very important role in how the children turn out in life. From this perspective, an environment in which children are subjected to corporal punishment is not conducive and might lead to negative outcomes such as aggressiveness, violence, and anxiety, among other behaviors. As such, corporal punishment should be discouraged in favor of other ways of punishing the child, such as grounding or simply talking to the child.


Works Cited

Lenta, Patrick. “Corporal Punishment of Children.” Social Theory and Practice, vol. 38, no. 4, 2012, pp. 689-716.

MacKenzie, Michael J, Eric Nicklas, Jane Waldfogel, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn. “Corporal Punishment and Child Behavioural and Cognitive Outcomes Through 5 years of age: Evidence From a Contemporary Urban Birth Cohort Study.” Infant and Child Development, vol. 21, no. 1, 2012, pp. 3-33.

Mulvaney, Matthew K., & Carolyn Mebert, C. “Stress Appraisal and Attitudes towards Corporal

Punishment as Intervening Processes between Corporal Punishment and Subsequent Mental Health.” Journal of Family Violence, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 401-412.


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