News / USA

    Beating Children Remains Common Worldwide

    Cultural differences play a role when it comes to physically disciplining children

    Research reveals cultural differences about what seems to be acceptable when it comes to physically disciplining children.
    Research reveals cultural differences about what seems to be acceptable when it comes to physically disciplining children.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Rose Hoban

    Thirty years ago, the United Nations ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child - a document that spells out the basic human rights of children, and states that children need special protection and care.

    But three decades on, how are children doing?

    Pediatricians from the University of North Carolina have taken a look at one measure of children's well being - the extent to which they are subject to corporal punishment and abuse.  

    One of the pediatricians, Desmond Runyan, was at an international meeting about a decade ago when he proposed that countries work in parallel to measure the type and extent of child abuse occurring in each place.

    Researchers from Chile, Brazil, Egypt, the Philippines, India and the U S  agreed on common methods to measure child maltreatment in their respective countries.  

    Cultural differences

    Runyan says more than 10 years later, the data reveal interesting cultural differences about what seems to be acceptable when it comes to physically disciplining children.

    "Among the things we learned for instance was that in India, slapping a child in the face or head is more common than spanking them," he says. "And in Egypt, 25 percent of the mothers said that they had beaten their child up, which was defined as  hitting them over and over again with a closed fist."

    "And then the other interesting things were like the Philippines, the rate of telling people that evil spirits or the bogey man was going to get them, the kind of emotional, kind of threatening to lock them out of the home, was very high."

    However, despite the differences in punishment methods, Runyan found some notable similarities.  For example, he found  the education level of mothers impacted how often they resorted to physical discipline.

    "The more years of education, the lower the rate of harsh physical punishment in kids," Runyan says. "So that was our major overall finding."

    Effectiveness of spanking

    He maintains that one of the big problems with corporal punishment - aside from the obvious - is that it just 'isn't effective' at changing behavior.

    "The children that were hit were more likely to be misbehaving still after five years than the kids who weren't hit," Runyan says. "It teaches them to be more aggressive."

    He maintains there are other more effective tools of parenting that don't include physical punishment, but still correct behavior.

    Runyan's colleague at UNC, Adam Zolotor, agrees. He says the research shows that routinely spanking has been shown to result in many negative behaviors as the children grow up.

    "Most children that are spanked don't develop those outcomes but some do, and we are not always good at predicting at who's going to develop those bad outcomes," Zolotor says.  "And there are lots of other effective tools of parenting, and I think it's important that all parents have a broad range of tools that they don't have used effectively to teach their children."

    Zolotor also looked at the extent of corporal punishment of children in many countries, but he examined what happened in countries which had enacted bans on corporal punishment, or spanking.  

    Ban on corporal punishment of children

    These types of laws have been enacted in many countries, from Europe to Latin America.

    Zolotor found that in these countries, the rates of physical abuse had dropped as the rate of physical punishment dropped.  But, he says, that for a country to pass a ban, physical punishment needs to already be falling out of favor.

    "Spanking has to be unpopular enough in a representative government that is politically feasible to pass an anti-corporal punishment law," Zolotor says.

    "But then I think that the passage of the anti-corporal punishment law and then maybe the policy, and the media, and the research support that comes with the passage of those laws reinforces further declines in corporal punishment."

    Zolotor also examined which countries had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and found that only two countries in the world had not signed on. Those countries are Somalia and the United States.

    "Some people have said a bit tongue in cheek that it's perhaps because Somalia is a country without enough laws and the U.S. is a country with too many laws," says Zolotor. "There has been in opinion expressed in the political theater that the U.S. doesn't want to pass a law that would leave them accountable to the UN in terms of our own legal framework and protection of children."

    He points out that only 24 of the 193 signatories to the Convention have  banned corporal punishment outright.  He says such a ban isn't necessary to signing onto the law.

    "It would mean that we would need to be working towards eliminating this type of violence against children," he says.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.