Corporate punishments of children are very widespread in the US and the rest of the world as the primary go-to method of discipline, usually utilized for particularly bad misbehaviors. At the same time, it is associated with child cruelty and abuse. The duty of a psychology professional is to provide accurate information on the practice and dissuade a parent or a caregiver from using it. The growing body of evidence shows that corporate punishment does not achieve any long-term disciplinarian goals while hampering their short and long-term psychosocial development.
The objective of corporal punishment is to control a child’s behavior through fear of physical pain. Poulsen (2019) finds that such an approach does not prove effective, as the only source of punishment is the parent. When they are not around, or when they are unaware of infractions, a child may avoid consequences and will actively try to do so. This results in an erosion of trust between family members and various negative consequences. Bassam et al. (2018) argue against corporal punishments due to ethical concerns of children becoming violent and taking advantage of those weaker than themselves, following their parents’ example. The research finds that forced compliance often results in rebellion, which only grows as the child becomes older. Finally, Heeks et al. (2022) find that the only success corporal punishments achieve is immediately stopping whatever activity the child is doing. At the same time, the same could be achieved through physical restraining of the child.
Overall, corporal punishments are a method of the past. It is not very effective in enforcing discipline while hindering a child’s psychosocial development. It loses out to restraining as a means of preventative activity and teaches wrong lessons to children. Moreover, the line between corporal punishment and abuse is very thin, which is why a parent or a caregiver should not use it at all, if possible.
Bassam, E., Marianne, T. B., Rabbaa, L. K., & Gerbaka, B. (2018). Corporal punishment of children: Discipline or abuse? Libyan Journal of Medicine, 13(1), 1-8.
Heekes, S. L., Kruger, C. B., Lester, S. N., & Ward, C. L. (2022). A systematic review of corporal punishment in schools: Global prevalence and correlates. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 23(1), 52-72.
Poulsen, A. (2019). Corporal punishment of children in the home in Australia: A review of the research reveals the need for data and knowledge. Children Australia, 44(3), 110-120.