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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Tour Will Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

US secretary of state to visit 5 countries in the Middle East, South Asia in bid to strengthen economic and security ties, ease concerns over deal with Tehran More

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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs