Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Corporal Punishment Bans May Reduce Youth Violence

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Corporal Punishment Bans May Reduce Youth Violence

Article excerpt

FROM BMJ OPEN

NATIONWIDE BANS on corporal punishment of children in the home and school seem to have had a positive impact on fighting among adolescents, with males in those countries about 30% less likely to engage in fighting and females almost 60% less likely to do so, according to a study of school-based health surveys completed by 403,604 adolescents in 88 different countries published in BMJ Open.

"These findings add to a growing body of evidence on links between corporal punishment and adolescent health and safety. A growing number of countries have banned corporal punishment as an acceptable means of child discipline, and this is an important step that should be encouraged," said Frank J. Elgar, PhD, of McGill University in Montreal and his colleagues. "Health providers are well positioned to offer practical and effective tools that support such approaches to child discipline. Cultural shifts from punitive to positive discipline happen slowly."

The researchers placed countries into three categories: those that have banned corporal punishment in the home and at school; those that have banned it in school only (which include the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom); and those that have not banned corporal punishment in either setting.

Frequent fighting rates varied widely, Dr. Elgar and his colleagues noted, ranging from a low of less than 1% among females in Costa Rica, which bans all forms of corporal punishment, to a high of 35% among males in Samoa, which allows corporal punishment in both settings. …

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