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Should Spanking Be Banned?

Bills have been introduced in several state legislatures to ban all physical punishment of children. So far none has been successful. States have already acknowledged the harmfulness of physical punishment and it seems it is only a matter of time before such legislative efforts will be successful. A majority of states already ban its use in schools, daycare, child care centers, institutions for children and foster care.

A Human Rights Issue

Proponents of banning corporal punishment of children say it is a human rights issue. In the U.S., corporal punishment was once lawful for wives, slaves, military personnel, people in institutions and prisoners. Laws have been passed to give all adults protection from this practice.

Reducing Physical Abuse Of Children

Many child abuse experts have called for an end to corporal punishment of children as a means of reducing childhood physical abuse. In most cases, physical abuse begins as "discipline," hitting or shaking a child. In each state hundreds and sometimes thousands of children are physically abused each year. Studies show that actual rates of abuse are much higher. We continue to spend billions of dollars on child abuse treatment. Banning corporal punishment of children in schools has led to far fewer injuries. Likewise, banning corporal punishment of children in homes would reduce physical abuse in those settings.

International Progress In Protecting Children

Nearly 50 countries, mostly in Europe, have banned corporal punishment of children in all settings including homes. Over 100 countries have banned corporal punishment in schools. These legal actions were taken to reduce physical abuse of children and give children the right that other human beings have to be free from physical harm. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child through its Committee on the Rights of the child has called on all member states to ban corporal punishment of children and institute education programs on positive discipline.1 An international study on violence against children commissioned by the UN General Assembly calls for a ban on all corporal punishment of children.2 The author of the report, Dr. Sergio Pinheiro says that calling for an end to all corporal punishment is challenging but "Children's rights to life, survival, development, dignity and physical integrity do not stop at the door of the family home, nor do states' obligations to ensure these rights for children."



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