Physical punishment, sometimes called corporal punishment, is anything done to cause pain or discomfort in response to your child’s behaviors.

Examples of physical punishment include:

  • spanking (one of the most common methods of physical punishment)
  • slapping, pinching, or pulling
  • hitting with an object, such as a paddle, belt, hairbrush, whip, or stick
  • making someone eat soap, hot sauce, hot pepper, or other unpleasant substances

Studies have indicated that exposure to maltreatment and other forms of violence during childhood is associated with risk factors and risk-taking behaviours later in life. These include violent victimization and the perpetration of violence, depression, smoking, obesity, high-risk sexual behaviours, unintended pregnancy, and alcohol and drug use. Such risk factors and behaviours can lead to some of the principal causes of death, disease and disability – such as heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, cancer and suicide. Child maltreatment therefore contributes to a broad range of adverse physical and mental health outcomes that are costly, both to the child and to society, over the course of a victim’s life.

Research finds that hitting children does not teach them about responsibility, conscience development and self-control. “Hitting children does not teach them right from wrong,” says Elizabeth Gershoff, PhD, an expert on the effects of corporal punishment on children who provided research for the resolution. “Spanking gets their attention, but they have not internalized why they should do the right thing in the future. They may behave when the adult is there but do whatever they want at other times.

Parents who use physical discipline may be teaching their child to resolve conflicts with physical aggression. Researchers found that spanking can elevate a child’s aggression levels as well as diminish the quality of the parent-child relationship. Other studies have documented that physical discipline can escalate into abuse. One of the main factors in juvenile delinquency is physical punishment that they received from their parents, teachers, or someone else in the surrounding.

Children who are physically punished become afraid of exploring their surroundings, they avoid extending their cognitive skills. Most of the strict parents directly or indirectly inhibit their children from exploring and learning. Children do not learn to reason and think logically as they have never been allowed to reason and understand. Poor academic scores are also common in children who have been punished physically at home or in school.

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