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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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Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
Reports of a 5-by-5-foot padded enclosure where misbehaving kids are sent as punishment has many parents in Arizona upset and disappointed. The state does not have any laws prohibiting seclusion and even restraint for students–some with special needs–who are majorly disruptive and need to calm down, according to local news station CBS 5. From CBS5.com’s report on the “scream rooms:”
Leslie and Eric Noyes are the proud parents of a 7-year-old boy.
“He’s just a great kid, you know?” Eric Noyes said.
The second-grader has some special needs, so he was placed in the special education class at Desert Sage Elementary School in the Deer Valley Unified School District.
One day he came home with a disturbing story.
“He has been complaining about being restrained – he uses that word, restrained. And being put into cool down,” Leslie Noyes said.
“I was thinking there’s probably some bean bag chairs, maybe some books and just a room to get away from his general class. I had no idea it was literally almost a padded cell,” Eric Noyes said.
Leslie went to school armed with a camera and took pictures as proof.
They show a 5-foot by 5-foot padded box placed inside an empty classroom.
“My son has said he’s been there anywhere from a few minutes to almost all day,” Leslie Noyes said.
CBS 5 News went to Deer Valley with the accusations that a young boy saying he wasn’t even let out to use the bathroom, and that he had to eat lunch in there.
They refused to speak with us on camera, but released a statement that reads in part, “If a child requires the use of seclusion/physical intervention, parents are notified as soon as possible within the same school day. Two adults always accompany the child when secluded. This is the last method of behavior management schools use with a student.”
Deer Valley’s spokesperson also said Eric and Leslie’s son has been in the room 17 times since October, but they deny he was left there any longer than 15 minutes at a time.
Image: Phoenix area “scream room” chamber, via KPHO.com.
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Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
Chances are you’ve seen the YouTube video of Tommy Jordan, the North Carolina dad who shot his teenage daughter’s laptop. Viewed more than 22 million times in one week, the video has sparked passionate debate across the Internet.
Jordan’s 15-year-old daughter posted an angry, hurtful rant on Facebook about having too many chores, and Jordan—who’d spent hours the previous day updating her laptop—was furious that this was how she was using it. “Today was probably the most disappointing day of my life as a father,” he says at the start of the video. He reads his daughter’s post to the camera and then shoots her laptop eight times.
Comments on YouTube are split: Many say Jordan’s reaction is too extreme or criticize his use of a gun. But many others praise his tough-love approach with comments like “Give this man a medal” and “Tommy Jordan for President.” On Time.com, columnist Susanna Schrobsdorff notes that many parents of teenagers dream of doing what Jordan did:
It is both disturbing and so deeply satisfying that you can’t watch it without reliving every fantasy you’ve ever had about hurling one of your teen’s gadgets out a window or under a car after they’ve used it to ignore you or deceive you, or distract themselves from something they’re supposed to do.
KJ Dell’Antonia of the New York Times Motherlode blog writes that “Mr. Jordan acted childishly,” but she says she’s felt his anger: [I]f you’ve grounded a kid in anger, or yanked an arm or felt an ugly expression on your face and heard a tone in your voice that you’ve never used with anyone other than your beloved child, you know what I mean. Our children infuriate us like no one else.”
Jordan hasn’t spoken to reporters, but he has posted comments on his Facebook page. (He says child protective services did pay him a visit, and found his guns stored securely.) He also mentioned lessons he and his daughter have drawn from the experience. From the Los Angeles Times:
“We’ve always told her that what you put online can effect you forever,” [Jordan] said. “She’s seen first-hand through this video the worst possible scenario that can happen. One post, made by her Dad, will probably follow him the rest of his life; just like those mean things she said on Facebook will stick with the people her words hurt for a long time to come. Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back, so think carefully before you use the Internet to broadcast your thoughts and feelings.”
Readers, what’s your take on the laptop-shooting dad?
Image: Tommy Jordan screenshot via the Los Angeles Times.
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Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
Mounting evidence suggests that spanking kids sets them up for long-term negative consequences, according to a research review published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The review found that children disciplined with spanking or slapping are more likely to be aggressive as children and delinquent as they get older. Research also shows that physical punishment may slow cognitive development.
Joan Durrant of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and her coauthor reviewed studies on physical punishment conducted in the last two decades and say none of the studies showed benefits to spanking.
MSNBC offers more details:
In one U.S. study, researchers looked at 2,400 mothers who spanked their 3-year-olds twice the previous month, and found that children had an increased risk for higher levels of aggression when they were 5 years old.
“In the U.S., physical punishment is such an entrenched part of the culture that virtually no one has experienced growing up without it,” Durrant said. ”This situation makes it difficult for parents to visualize raising a child without it.”
This raises an obvious question: Is it possible that children who are spanked are naturally more difficult or aggressive? The researchers report that some studies controlled for those factors but still found that spanking was linked to later behavior problems.
Another study found that parents who were taught no-spank techniques for dealing with misbehavior reported a drop in their child’s difficult behaviors as the parents adopted the new techniques. The researchers encourage parents to learn such techniques.
Parents, what’s your take on this research?
Image: Spanking via Shutterstock.
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