Should Parents Use Physical Punishment to Educate their Children

Using physical punishment to discipline children can cause irreversible physical and psychological damage. Although this may seem far-fetched, it has been proven that using spanking, or other physical punishment on children can have a serious impact on their adult life. On the other hand, some families feel that extreme discipline is necessary to educate their children correctly. However, the question is still debatable, as the use of physical punishment on children has proven to be harmful in different ways.
The first issue to consider is the damage physical discipline can cause during the child’s psychological development. Spanking a child often generates a state of anxiety and confusion, interfering with the way the child is able to analyse his behaviour. When a parent uses physical chastisement on a child, the latter is focused on the pain and is perplexed as to why the adult is displeased. In addition, he may not understand which behaviour is right or wrong, as there is no explanation, just a mere physical act. This pain may also lead to a state of resentment towards the adult, thus the child withdraws without caring to understand why he was wrong.
Moreover, physical punishment curbs a child’s creativity. For instance, studies have shown that when a child feels he is threatened, he develops a fight or flight response in defence, which hampers his imagination and creativity .
Furthermore, bodily punishment can also lower a child’s IQ. In fact, research at the University of New Hampshire found that spanking slows down children’s intellectual development by an average of four points, as opposed to children that have not been physically inflicted.
Consequently, considering the above mentioned effects of spanking, it is safe to say that it can impede a child’s normal development.
Secondly, children who have endured extreme discipline and physical punishment can develop into irresponsible and disrespectful adults. For instance, there have been case studies of physically punished children showing anti-social behaviour. The data revealed that even minimal amounts of spanking can lead to an increased likelihood of asocial reactions in children; such as, cheating, lying and bullying. Furthermore, they do not regret having misbehaved. Most of the time, the relationship with other children and teachers is turbulent and they often misbehave. In addition, as adults they are inflexible and are not open to other people’s reasons.
Moreover, children who have received physical discipline tend to accumulate resentment, leading to disrespect for adults and later, in many cases, towards law enforcing bodies. Indeed, most children who are regularly spanked lose trust in their parents and feel adverse towards all adults, thus become disrespectful, because the punishment inflicted on them reinforces rebellion, revenge and bitterness As a result, these children often use foul language and are bad-mannered. Finally, they no longer have faith in the adults who administer the beating, and think that force is an acceptable factor in human interaction.

In addition, children who have been used to physical reprimanding, grow up into adults who have problems relating with others. This is because, children who are slapped feel humiliated and lose their self respect, eventually closing up to the world. Thus, when a small child is slapped by a trusted adult, who is prepared to inflict pain on him this action shatters the bond between parent and child. The child is left feeling humiliated, hostile and betrayed, leading to self destructive behaviour and loss of self esteem.
Eventually, repeated physical violence can damage the child’s personality and cause serious problems with social interaction.
Lastly, physical punishment can be damaging for a child’s physical and sexual development. Inflicting physical pain on a child can easily escalate into abuse.Besides, slapping or spanking can cause bodily harm that is not always visible. Aside from the obvious damage; such as, broken bones or nerve and muscle damage-other injuries that are less evident can occur. This includes, cerebral haemorrhage and sciatic nerve damage when spanking on the buttocks.
More important, physical punishment can escalate and be on the threshold of wife -beating, especially when parents are stressed and don’t realize they are becoming outwardly violent. Because spanking has an immediate effect on the short term behaviour, parents tend to do it on a regular basis. Therefore, this becomes a standard form of punishment on the long term for a misbehaving child. Unfortunately, this often leads to harsher and more frequent spanking as the child gets used to the routine, and can eventually lead to actual violent abuse. The result is that a child is physically and psychologically damaged, similarly to a beaten wife.
Typically, physical punishment often comes in the form of spanking in the buttock region, which often leads to a confusion and sexual imbalance. As a result, when parents spank their children on their buttocks, what is really happening is that they involuntarily trigger off sexual pleasure and pain at the same time. The buttock region is an erogenous zone and connected to the sexual nerve centre. As a result, spanking a child is in fact a sexual violation. This can be disastrous for a child when he becomes an adult, as it leads to confusion as to how sexual pleasure should be perceived and expressed. Therefore, children who are physically corrected or have endured extreme discipline may become unstable and unhappy adults and have problems relating to others.

To summarize, physical discipline should not be admissible considering all these side effects and damage it can cause children, as well as the negative consequences on their adult development.
Sonia Ferrigno ©2016

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