• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

There Should Be No Debate about Corporal Punishment

It is impossible to have missed the many news stories in the past few weeks focusing on NFL players beating their loved ones. And, while many have denounced the vicious attacks perpetrated by players against their girlfriends and children, it continues to shock me that they also have so many defenders. I have written previously about Ray Rice and other players who are perpetrators of domestic violence, so my focus here is on the issue of child abuse.

Minnesota Vikings’ star running back Adrian Peterson is facing charges in Texas for felony child abuse based on allegations that he beat his 4-year-old son with a “switch,” or tree branch. Pictures of the boy show a series of bloody gashes and welts from the attack. Peterson told police that “the whooping” he gave his son was what he received as a child.  It seems that Peterson may be repeat offender, as he was accused last year of beating another son who he said had been cursing. The boy’s mother, a different woman than the mother of the child beaten with the switch, filed a report with Child Protective Services but no charges were ever brought against Peterson. Although the Vikings initially planned to allow Peterson to play this weekend, he is now suspended, with pay, of course, while the legal case is pending.

While the Vikings have finally acted, Vikings sponsor Radisson has suspended its support for the team, Nike suspended its contract with Peterson, and Target has removed all number 28 Vikings jerseys from its stores, many have rallied behind Peterson’s alleged right to “discipline” his child. People from Peterson’s home town of Palestine, Texas commented that corporal punishment is common in East Texas, is considered a family matter, and wouldn’t impact their support for their hero.  NBC NFL analyst Tony Dungy described having grown up with this type of discipline and commented about the need to give players a second chance, implying support for Peterson. Former NBA player, current analyst, and ever-loudmouth Charles Barkley commented on CBS Sports’ “NFL Today” that “I’m from the South. Whipping is … we do that all the time…Every black parent in the South is gonna be in jail under those circumstances. I think we have to be careful letting people dictate how they treat their children.” NFL player Reggie Bush defended Peterson, claiming that he also “harshly disciplines” his 1-year-old daughter.

What galls me more than these supporters’ comments, though, is the fact that people are using this case to debate the merits of corporal punishment. While surely this form of so-called discipline can be administered in less overtly abusive ways than are alleged in the Peterson case, there really is no debate about whether it is the most effective way to punish young people for inappropriate behavior. It is not. Research is very clear about two things: 1) Corporal punishment can result in physical and emotional damage; and 2) there is always a better way to correct misbehavior.

First, numerous studies have documented the physical and emotional harm inflicted when children and teens are spanked, paddled, or beaten with other implements. From hemorrhaging to scarring to increased rates of depression, aggression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, drug and alcohol use, young people who have been spanked often endure long-term physical signs of the abuse. A recent study found children who were regularly spanked, defined as at least once per month for more than three years, had less gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex that have been linked to depression, addiction and other mental health disorders. A 2010 study published in Pediatrics found that frequent spanking when a child was 3, defined as more than twice in the previous month, was linked to an increased risk for aggressive behavior when the child was 5.  Studies have repeatedly shown that persons who were physically punished as children, like Adrian Peterson, are most likely to use those same tactics with their children. Some say that they have learned that violence is an appropriate method of conflict resolution. A Canadian study published in 2012 reviewing two decades of research on the subject found “…no study has found physical punishment to have a long-term positive effect, and most studies have found negative effects.” The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a directive in 2006 calling physical punishment “legalized violence against children” that should be eliminated in all settings through “legislative, administrative, social and educational measures.” Thirty countries have banned physical punishment of children in all settings, including schools and homes. The American Psychological Association (APA) has strongly condemned the practice and supports non-physical forms of punishment.

Even if there are legitimate concerns that these studies do not conclusively prove that corporal punishment is damaging, there is always an alternate way to punish children who misbehave. The APA recommends positive reinforcement for good behavior and calls on parents to engage children in conversations about appropriate ways of resolving conflict. Parents magazine has written that the most effective forms of punishment teach young people how to control their behavior through internal measures.

Defend Adrian Peterson if you will, but can we please stop acting like there is some real debate about the issue of corporal punishment? “I-was-spanked-and-I turned-out-OK” is not a legitimate reason to continue a practice that has been so widely documented as potentially dangerous and for which there are a host of other effective, more peaceful, alternatives.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology

More articles by:

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 21, 2019
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Wolf at the Door: Adventures in Fundraising With Cockburn
Rev. William Alberts
Myopic Morality: The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Sheldon Richman
Let’s Make Sure the Nazis Killed in Vain
Horace G. Campbell
Chinese Revolution at 70: Twists and Turns, to What?
Jim Kavanagh
The Empire Steps Back
Ralph Nader
Where are the Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?
Thomas Knapp
Excuses, Excuses: Now Hillary Clinton’s Attacking Her Own Party’s Candidates
stclair
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Brian Terrell
The United States Air Force at Incirlik, Our National “Black Eye”
Paul Bentley
A Plea for More Cynicism, Not Less: Election Day in Canada
Walter Clemens
No Limits to Evil?
Robert Koehler
The Collusion of Church and State
Kathy Kelly
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Charlie Simmons
How the Tax System Rewards Polluters
Chuck Collins
Who is Buying Seattle? The Perils of the Luxury Real Estate Boom
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
Arshad Khan
The Turkish Gambit
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail