In the wake of a 2004 video of a Texas judge beating his teenage daughter with a belt, which received huge YouTube circulation last week, the national conversation about parents using physical means of discipline on their children has risen to fever pitch.
Hillary Adams, now 23, learned last week that the statute of limitations had expired on charges of abuse or judicial misconduct against her father. She had uploaded the video in hopes that her father would be remorseful for her behavior and reconcile their relationship.
No countries in North America ban physical punishment by parents, but there's a perennial debate about the line between discipline and abuse, and who's allowed to administer it. It flared again last week after millions watched a seven-minute YouTube video from 2004 that showed a Texas judge cursing at his teen daughter and beating her with a belt.
While there are laws against child abuse, it's legal in all 50 states for parents to hit their children, and for schools in 19 states to physically punish kids. About 80% of American parents said they've hit their young children, and about 100,000 kids are paddled in U.S. schools every year, researchers said.
Kids are still hit with hands, belts, switches and paddles, said Elizabeth Gershoff , an associate professor of human development and family sciences at University of Texas, despite research that shows it doesn't model or teach behavior parents are looking for, that it damages trust between parent and children and that it can lead to increased aggression.
Although more parents are trying a variety of disciplinary measures, corporal punishment isn't going away, and some researchers argue that it shouldn't. It's effective for gaining immediate compliance from young children, and is unlikely to have long-term negative effects, they said. More powerfully, it's hard to stop a discipline technique that's been passed down through generations.
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