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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
“To Train Up a Child,” a parenting book that advocates parents use such extreme discipline measures as starvation and severe beatings with switches and plastic tubes, has been implicated in the murders of three children, all adoptees: 4-year-old Sean Paddock, 7-year-old Lydia Schatz, and 13-year-old Hana Williams. Last month, Williams’ adoptive parents, Larry and Carri Williams, were convicted of homicide by abuse after the girl died of malnutrition and hypothermia, both punishments linked with advice from the book, which was written by a preacher and his wife. Politix.com reports on a petition that is circulating urging Amazon.com to remove the book from its website–so far, the petition has garnered more than 80,000 signatures:
The book by preacher Michael Pearl and his wife Debi advocates using a switch on babies starting at 6 months old. The book also recommends beating older children with a flexible plumbing pipe that “can be rolled up and carried in your pocket.” The Williams’s seem to have taken that advice to heart. When Hana died, her body was scarred by beatings with the plumbing line.
The same kind of tubing was used to beat Lydia Schatz, 7, whose adoptive parents were convicted of second-degree murder in her death. Her parents would intersperse beatings with prayer. Lydia “died from severe tissue damage, and her older sister had to be hospitalized,” the New York Times reports. Another small child, 4-year-old Sean Paddock, was scarred by beatings with the tubing when he died at the hands of his adoptive parents.
The Williams’s told friends that Hana was “rebellious” and recommended To Train up a Child as manual for dealing with rebellious children, according to Slate. Hana has also been deprived of food (perhaps following the Pearls’ advice that “a little fasting is good training”) and forced to shower outside and sleep in a barn without bedding, even in freezing weather.
Currently over 670,000 copies of To Train Up a Child are in circulation.
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Discipline Without Spanking
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics has linked frequent spanking of young children with problems including aggressive behavior and vocabulary and language delays later in childhood. More from CBS News:
Children who were spanked often early in life by their mothers were more likely to be aggressive later in childhood compared to kids who weren’t spanked at all, a study published in Pediatrics on Oct. 21 concluded. Being spanked by dads was also linked to vocabulary and language problems in kids.
“These effects are long-lasting. They aren’t just short-term problems that wash out over time. And the effects were stronger for those who were spanked more than twice a week,” co-author Michael MacKenzie, an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York, told HealthDay.
The study involved more than 1,900 families in 20 medium to large U.S. cities who were enrolled in the long-running Fragile Families and Child Well-Being study. Parents were asked how often they spanked their child when he or she was age 3 and 5, and a child’s aggressive behavior and vocabulary were evaluated at 3 and 9 years.
In total, 57 percent of mothers and 40 percent of fathers spanked their child at the age of 3. When the child was 5, 52 percent of mothers and 33 percent of fathers spanked their kids.
Mothers who were still spanking their child by the age of 5 — no matter how often — were more likely to have a child who was more aggressive than his or her peers by the time they turned nine. Mothers who spanked their child at least twice a week when they were 3 also had children more likely to have these problem behaviors.
Children who were spanked at least twice a week by their fathers at the age of 5 were more likely to score lower on vocabulary and language-comprehension tests.
Image: Parent angry with child, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Children whose parents administer discipline in the form of slapping, shoving, or pushing may be more likely to become obese or suffer other emotional and physical health problems later in life. Reuters has more:
“This is one study that adds to a growing area of research that all has consistent findings that physical punishment is associated with negative mental and now physical (health) outcomes,” said Tracie Afifi, who led the study at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.
Last year, she and her colleagues published findings linking hitting and slapping in childhood to a higher risk of depression and anxiety later in life (see Reuters Health story of July 2, 2013 here: reut.rs/Mo1MXm.)
For the current report, they re-analyzed data collected in 2004 and 2005 by United States Census interviewers, who surveyed more than 34,000 adults across the country.
Participants were asked whether their parents or other adults at home pushed, slapped, grabbed, shoved or hit them for punishment as a child. They also reported their current health conditions.
About 1,300 people reported being physically punished at least “sometimes” without more extreme physical or emotional abuse or neglect. Compared to people who weren’t punished physically as children, they were more likely to have been diagnosed with at least one chronic health condition.
Specifically, those participants were 25 percent more likely to have arthritis and 28 percent more likely to have cardiovascular disease – though the second finding could have been due to chance, the researchers wrote Monday in Pediatrics.
More people who had been punished physically were obese: about 31 percent, versus 26 percent of those with no history of physical punishment.
Image: Angry parent and child, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
The editor of a prestigious Canadian medical journal has called for lawmakers in Canada to strike down a statute that protects spanking as a legal form of physical punishment that parents and teachers can apply to kids, The Globe and Mail reports. Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada states that a parent can use physical punishment “if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.”
“It is time for Canada to remove this anachronistic excuse for poor parenting from the statute book,” editor John Fletcher wrote in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. But Fletcher also said an occasional spanking shouldn’t be treated like a criminal act. From The Globe and Mail:
“If the aim is to improve parenting,” he writes, “then calling the police is the wrong approach.”
Instead, he’s hoping to shift the focus to how ineffective spanking actually is.
“I’m not sure the message has got out that regular physical punishment isn’t a good way to get kids to behave properly and can lead to later problems,” he said in an interview. He defines regular physical punishment as more than two incidents a month.
This follows two recent studies that connected spanking to problems in children. One study, published this summer by the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that physical punishments, such slapping, hitting, pushing and shoving, were linked to mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse in the children who were punished.
Image: Parents with son in trouble via Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
Children whose parents punish them with spanking or another physical means of discipline are more likely to suffer from emotional problems including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and personality disorders, a new Canadian study has found. From CNN.com:
Researchers from Canada found that physical punishment (such as slapping, hitting, pushing and shoving) — even without child neglect or physical, sexual or emotional abuse — was linked to mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and personality disorders.
While it may be true that many of today’s parents were spanked as children and are now well-adjusted, previous studies have also shown that those who were spanked are at a higher risk to be depressed; use alcohol; hit their spouse or own children; and engage in violent or criminal behaviors.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Paediatric Society discourage spanking and other forms of physical punishment. It is unlawful in 32 countries — not including the United States or Canada — for parents and other caregivers to use physical punishment against children.
The new study’s lead author, Tracie Afifi, said she believes that physical punishment should not be used on children of any age and that positive parenting strategies should instead be encouraged.
Preferred methods of discipline do not include physical punishment. For example, withholding privileges, using time-outs and offering consequences (for example, “If you throw your toy and it breaks, you won’t be able to play with it anymore”).
Image: Child being slapped, via Shutterstock.
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