I cant seem to upload my essay so i'm going to just copy and paste it here. I did not include my works cited page due to size limits.Banning Corporal Punishment in Order to Better Our Children
Most American parents see corporal punishment as an effective tool in their parenting arsenal to get their child to stop unwanted or dangerous behavior. The issue with this perspective is that it has been well documented that corporal punishment can lead to depression and other mental health disorders. In today's world most of the industrialized, civilized countries have already banned the use of this practice to not only protect their children, but to better the country's future. Why is it that the world's greatest country has not followed suit? Is it ignorance? Is it the culture? Whatever the reason, the fact remains that America is far, far behind in creating policies to protect the innocence that exists within our children, and overall America's future. Banning corporal punishment in America can lessen the magnitude of mental health disorders by changing the intergenerational negative family dynamics into positive ones, reducing the amount of violence children are exposed to, and by being able to easily identify children at risk for abuse.
To start, it has been well documented that the use of corporal punishment on young children can have negative effects on the mental health of the child, such as depression. It has also been shown that these effects can persist into adulthood. Every year there is an estimate of 18% of all American adults that suffer from a mental health disorder such as depression (Bekiempis). Spanking, among other physical punishments have been the parenting normality when it comes to discipline for quite some time. While there are very few theories as to why corporal punishment can lead to mental health disorders, the fact remains that it does. One renounced researcher named Elizabeth Gershoff, conducted a meta-analysis of 88 different corporal punishment studies published in the last 62 years. While she did admit that most of the research done on corporal punishment is usually biased in the manner that the researchers only study the negative side of this kind of punishment. One cannot ignore the fact that she identified 10 different undesirable effects that come from corporal punishment, and that there was a 94% consistency among these effects. These negative effects included mental health, aggression, and the quality of the parent-child relationship, among other issues.
Most American parents have easy access to the internet, which they use to research the best car seat, baby bottle, or pacifier. Yet parenting techniques are still in the cave man age of handing information down from generation to generation. Why is it that these parents choose to research the most minuscule detail like a pacifier, but not how to raise and discipline their own flesh and blood? The reality of the situation is that most parents see nothing wrong in the way that they were raised. Most parents feel as if they are mentally healthy and because of this, they will likely adopt their parent's techniques. A parent who was spanked as a child is more likely to perceive that punishment as necessary and effective than a parent who was not spanked as a child. Spanking and physical punishment has been one of the main means of discipline in America for decades, essentially due to the fact that it is perceived as one of the most immediately effective disciplinary tools. Yet George Holden's study, among others, shows that a spanking and other forms of corporal punishment may make a child immediately comply, but within a few minutes the child is back to being mischievous. This is partly due to the fact that young children cannot developmentally understand why they are being spanked. This well-documented fact disproves one of the main reasons why American parents choose to use corporal punishment.
Since corporal punishment in America is the cultural normative when it comes to discipline, many parents will need to be educated on what is both effective and what is considered developmentally appropriate for disciplining young children. One cannot just take away an 'essential' parenting tool and expect for the public to follow through. In order for this ban to be effective the way it needs to be, there needs to be a program designed for educating parents. A program to help teach parents that discipline does not always need to equal punishment, and that the development of the child's brain has a great deal to do with how the child is behaving. What one parent may consider bad behavior that would warrant a spanking, is probably normal toddler behavior that could have been handled without violence involved. Such as a 2 year-old having a meltdown in a store over not getting what he or she wanted. This is typical toddler behavior, and no amount of spanking is going to teach this child not to do that. If anything, it is modeling to the child that it is okay to lose your temper in public over petty nonsense, essentially reinforcing the bad behavior they just displayed by modeling more bad behavior. What could teach this child how to behave in public is by modeling the appropriate behavior, maybe by walking out of the store, and not allowing the child to go on the next trip to the store (Nenia).
In order for any relationship, including one between a parent and their child, to be successful there are a few key components. These components include trust and communication. Imagine a 2 year-old who is at the store with his mother. This boy begins to throw a tantrum over not getting the toy that he requested. Almost instantly his mother snatches the child up off the ground and firmly smacks his butt a few times. Even though the specific detail may differentiate, this kind of situation takes place every day all over America. When a parent reacts in such a volatile manner to a young child, it can in turn make that child have intense feelings of anger, resentment, anxiety, and fearfulness towards their parent. These feelings can make the child, understandably, want to avoid their parents. When a child is fearful and avoiding his or her parent, this can lead to a complete deterioration of the relationship due to no trust, and no communication. Now, if a child feels as if the punishment did not fit the crime, than that is when resentment can come into play (Gershoff 542).
Resentment can also ruin the parent-child relationship by the child, again, distancing themselves from their parents. Most Americans would not think of aggression or consistent violent behavior as a mental disorder within itself, but there are a handful of these disorders that are listed in the American Psychiatric Association's official diagnostic manual. An example of one of these disorders is called Intermittent Explosive Disorder, which is essentially when the individual acts "grossly out of proportion" to a stressor in an aggressive manner (Diamond, "Anger Disorder..."). Although there are a few diagnoses that do cover aggression, the American Psychiatric Association is possibly going to add another aggression disorder called, Post-Traumatic Embitterment. This disorder entails when an individual is left to fester in their resentment (Diamond, "Anger Disorder: Part Two..."). The main difference between these two disorders is that the Intermittent Explosive Disorder can make an individual behave in an irrational manner during a certain time period while the Post-Traumatic Embitterment Disorder is a constant level of aggression due to resentment. Even though this is not an official mental health disorder yet, there are countless psychologists who recognize that extreme aggressiveness can be just as much of a mental health disorder as depression. Clinical psychologist, Stephen diamond recognizes that continuous, extreme anger and resentment can be a mental health disorder. As stated before, children can feel resentment towards their parents when they feel as if the punishment did not fit the crime. If a child who was spanked feels this resentment, and is not taught how to deal with it in a healthy way, then resentment can actually lead to a mental health disorder. Most parents who do spank are usually ignorant to this fact because parenting techniques are handed down from each generation, making this effect multiply through the years. It is also reasonable to assume, through this assumption that most children are not taught how to deal with negative emotions in a healthy way.
Banning corporal punishment would help to decrease the amount of violent behaviors children are exposed to, especially in a society where violence is glorified. Just about every child in America has been exposed to violence through the media. Between the vulgar sexualized songs on the radio and the brutal bloody violence, both real and fake, which fill up the screens of Americans television, why would any parent want to expose their child to anymore violence when so much of their life is consumed by it? No matter how an individual tries to sugar coat it, smacking, spanking, or any other form of hitting is considered a violent act. If an adult were to smack another adult it would be considered assault. Yet parents are allowed to smack their children who solely rely and trust their parents. Doing this to a child not only models that aggression is an appropriate reaction, but affects their mental health for years to come, due to victimization.
Most advocates of corporal punishment will agree that there are certain guidelines that parents need to follow in order for the 'disciplinary spanking' to be effective. These guidelines range from not spanking children under 18 months to giving the child a warning before actually acting on punishment. Yet, one guideline that advocates stress the most, is that a parent should never administer physical punishment while aggravated (Trumbull). While it has not been completely stated why a parent should not conduct this type of this punishment while aggravated, one can assume that it is because of two factors. One factor being that it shows the child that it is okay to react in an aggressive manner when you are not being respected. The second factor is that a parent who is so frustrated may end up doing much more damaged than they originally intended to, leading to physical and mental abuse.
Now while advocates stress not to be angered while administering the punishment, George Holden's audio study shows some of what the reality is in the midst of the situation. In Holden's study, he originally set out to study verbal punishment, so he had his participants wear audio recorders during certain days at certain times. Due to the fact that he was able to hear the sound of smacking, Holden decided to research corporal punishment instead. Now as for his study, he gave the participating mothers guidelines that reflected those from advocates of corporal punishment, including to not administer the punishment while upset, to use it as a last resort for major offenses, and to limit the punishment to 1 to 2 spankings. Participating mothers followed most of the guidelines including limiting the punishment to 1 to 2 spanking. Yet it was heard over the tapes that most mother were clearly and consistently upset while administering the spanking. Along with the fact that the punishment was given over mild social offenses, and not major offenses as the guidelines stated. Although Holden admits that his study does have a few flaws such as not having a large enough sample size, it is still hard to ignore the evidence that most of the participating parents conducted physical punishment while upset.
In order for one to understand why a ban on corporal punishment would be effective in reducing the amount of mental health disorders by identifying children at risk for abuse, one must understand the slight difference between physical abuse and punishment. While most American parents see physical punishment and abuse on two completely different plains, the sad reality is that they are one in the same. Spanking, slapping, smacking, is all a part of a slippery slope that could lead to physical injury, and or child abuse. The main difference between physical punishment and abuse is how severe the outcome of the punishment could have been, or is. Any action that could lead to physical injury is considered physical abuse. Not only that, but there is a consensus among child abuse researchers that states, "if corporal punishment is administered too frequently or too severely than it can also be considered abuse" (Gershoff 540). There have been numerous reports, not only in America, but in other civilized countries, of children dying at the hand of their parent or caretaker due to over excessive punishment. While this is obviously this situation is usually few and far between, the fact of the matter is that if corporal punishment has been linked to not only physical abuse but also murdered children (Osterman 10).
The fact that the American public has not spoken up about these issues speaks volumes as to how ignorant people are about the possible negative outcomes that come from corporal punishment. Enacting a ban would help inform American parents of these possible outcomes. For example, in Sweden, individuals who were born before and after the ban had very different perspectives on corporal punishment. Older individuals who were born before the ban usually agreed that corporal punishment was a necessary tool for child-rearing. Yet Swedish born after the ban highly disagreed with the older individuals, explaining that there was no excuse to hit a child (Durrant 440). Sweden is not the only country that shows this tread of a change in public perception following a ban, Finland proved this too (Osterman 11). Both of these countries show that once the public is aware of the negative effects that can happen from corporal punishment, the overall perception will change; furthermore, decreasing the amount of parents that use corporal punishment.
In order for a ban in America to be just as effective as Sweden's and Finland's corporal punishment bans, it is critical to market this ban in a positive light. Germany had also enacted a ban against corporal punishment, yet it was not as successful as Sweden's. One factor that is to blame is that the German government did not advertise the ban as frequently or as long as Sweden did (Bussmann 298). One tactical move that the Sweden government used was posting an information graphic on the side of their milk cartons in order for families to see the new ban, and have a dinner discussion as to what it means for the family as a whole. Due to the fact that America is a melting pot of all cultures and all different financial classes, it should be a priority to tailor each marketing move to the demographic of that area. Individuals respond best to new programs when they feel represented and included.
To conclude, in order to help protect young American children from developing unnecessary mental disorders the government should ban corporal punishment. While the research done on corporal punishment may be biased, the studies still show that corporal punishment can lead to undesirable effects like mental health disorder. With close to 1 in 5 Americans suffering from mental disorders, it is crucial to do everything to not only help those that do suffer, but to prevent more individuals from suffering from these horrendous illnesses (Bekiempis). This ban would help decrease the amount of Americans with mental health disorders by breaking the intergenerational cycle of spanking, lowering the amount of violent behaviors children are exposed to, and by easily identifying children who are at risk for abuse. Something must be done in order to not only protect our children but America's future.