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Thursday, March 19th, 2015
If a mother disciplines by spanking or hitting, and then tries to make up for it with extra love and affection, the warm gestures don’t actually help your child to feel better — or to forget.
Researchers from Duke University interviewed more than 1,000 children and their mothers from eight countries (the U.S., China, Thailand, the Philippines, Italy, Kenya, Jordan, Colombia) to determine the extent of physical punishment each child received and their tendency for anxiety and aggression.
The study results, published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, revealed that even though kind gestures eased the stress of corporal punishment among children ages 8 to 10, aggression and anxiety still remained. In fact, the more loving a parent was after physical discipline, the more anxiety a child had. And not surprisingly, the more severe the punishment, the more severe aggression and anxiety increased.
No reason has been determined as to why maternal warmth doesn’t soothe a child, but one simple theory: “it’s too confusing and unnerving for a child to be hit hard and loved warmly all in the same home,” says Jennifer Lansford, research professor at the Social Science Research Institute at Duke University. Mixed signals are confusing, so it doesn’t come as a shock that children respond poorly to contradictory behaviors from their mothers.
“If you believe that you can shake your children or slap them across the face and then smooth things over gradually by smothering them with love, you are mistaken,” said Dr. Lansford. “Being very warm with a child whom you hit in this manner rarely makes things better.”
No matter how angry you are, experts recommend non-physical forms of discipline in order to encourage good behavior in children.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
Image: Young boy via Shutterstock
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Friday, February 6th, 2015
The pope made headlines last month with his repeated support for breastfeeding moms, but now he’s in the news for a different reason: his (apparent) support for spanking done with dignity.
A recent papal address in St. Peter’s Square made waves when Pope Francis shared a story about a father’s physical discipline tactic. CNN reports:
“I once heard at a wedding a father say, ‘I sometimes have to hit my children a little but never in the face, so as to not demean them.’ How nice, I thought, he has a sense of dignity,” the Pope said.
“When he punishes, he does it right and moves on.”
“A good father knows how to wait and knows how to forgive from the bottom of his heart. Of course he can also discipline with a firm hand: he’s not weak, submissive, sentimental,” he said.
“This father knows how to discipline without demeaning; he knows how to protect without restraint.”
Much like the vaccines debate, the spanking debate is a touchy, ongoing topic — and Pope Francis’s remarks seem to fall into the “spare the rod, spoil the rod” side. What makes his comments surprising is that the United Nations recently recommended the Vatican prohibit corporal punishment toward child.
While some have taken to Twitter to express their disappointment, a Vatican spokesperson, Father Thomas Rosica, says the pope wasn’t supporting physical punishment so much as proper discipline. “Let us not read into the Pope’s words anything other than what is there. He speaks constantly of mercy and tenderness,” he said.
“The pope was obviously not speaking about committing violence or cruelty against a child but rather about ‘helping someone to grow and mature,’” reports The New York Times.
Which side do you fall in in the spanking debate?
Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea
Image: Mother spanking daughter via Shutterstock
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Thursday, February 20th, 2014
A Kansas lawmaker has proposed legislation that would make it legal for parents to spank children to the point that the strikes would be allowed to leave redness or bruising on the child. (Update: On Feb. 20 the bill was killed before getting a hearing). More from The Associated Press:
Current Kansas law allows spanking that doesn’t leave marks. Rep. Gail Finney, a Democrat from Wichita, says he wants to allow up to 10 strikes of the hand and that could leave redness and bruising. The bill also would allow parents to give permission to others to spank their children.
It would continue to ban hitting a child with fists, in the head or body, or with a belt or switch.
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Friday, January 10th, 2014
“Zero tolerance” policies in schools, while well-intentioned, are often ineffective and overly zealous, and they create a school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately affects minority students, the Obama administration said this week in a set of new guidelines. The guidelines urge schools to abandon “zero tolerance” policies in favor of alternate methods of deescalating classroom conflicts before they become violent and dangerous. More from PBS.org:
The wide-ranging series of guidelines issued Wednesday in essence tells schools that they must adhere to the principle of fairness and equity in student discipline or face strong action if they don’t. The American Civil Liberties Union called the recommendations “ground-breaking.”
“A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.
Holder said the problem often stems from well intentioned “zero-tolerance” policies that too often inject the criminal justice system into the resolution of problems. Zero-tolerance policies, a tool that became popular in the 1990s, often spell out uniform and swift punishment for offenses such as truancy, smoking or carrying a weapon. Violators can lose classroom time or become saddled with a criminal record.
Police have become a more common presence in American schools since the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999.
The administration said research suggests the racial disparities in how students are disciplined are not explained by more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color.
“In our investigations, we have found cases where African-American students were disciplined more harshly and more frequently because of their race than similarly situated white students,” the Justice and Education departments said in a letter to school districts. “In short, racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem.”
Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the School Superintendents Association, acknowledged that students of color were being suspended and expelled in disproportionate numbers.
In American schools, black students without disabilities were more than three times as likely as whites to be expelled or suspended, according to government civil rights data collection from 2011-2012. Although black students made up 15 percent of students in the data collection, they made up more than a third of students suspended once, 44 percent of those suspended more than once and more than a third of students expelled.
More than half of students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or black, according to the data.
Domenech said his organization will work to educate members about the recommendations. “Superintendents recognize that out-of-school suspension is outdated and not in line with 21st-century education,” he said.
Image: Prison bars, via Shutterstock
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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:
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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.