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Banning spanking and other corporal punishment tied to less youth violence

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Countries who ban all corporal punishment see less violence in boy and girls

Banning only in schools reduces physical violence in girls but not boys

CNN —  

Making sure that Americans don’t revert to corporal punishment is key, experts say. An increasing amount of research shows that the end results of corporal punishment may not be positive.

“Societies that have these bans in place appear to be safer places for kids to grow up in,” said lead study author Frank Elgar, an associate professor at the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University in Montreal, in a prior interview.

Many argue that corporal punishment is required, Sege said, to “teach a child right from wrong, and if we don’t use corporal punishment, children will run wild.”

Many argue that corporal punishment is required, Sege said, to “teach a child right from wrong, and if we don’t use corporal punishment, children will run wild.”

If that was correct, Sege said, “you would expect the international outcome to be more violence among youth once a country bans corporal punishment. That is not what the evidence here is saying.

Different results for girls and boys

According to Elgar, the study is one of the “largest cross-national analyzes of youth violence” done to date.

The analysis used data from two ongoing global surveys, the Health Behavior in School-aged Children and the Global School-based Health survey, which interview children ages 13 to 17 about various health and social topics such as sexual behavior, alcohol, drug and tobacco use and violence. Similar studies in other countries were included, as well.

Youth in those surveys were asked “In the past 12 months, how many times were you in a physical fight?” Frequent physical altercations were defined as four or more fights within that period.

Elgar and his team ended up with over 400,000 adolescent answers from a diverse mix of 88 counties that had full, partial or no bans on spanking or other forms of corporal punishment.

Corporal punishment was defined as an adult’s use of physical force to “correct or control” a child’s behavior. The punishment is meant to be painful but not to physically injure.

Of the 88 countries in the study, 30 had full bans on corporal punishment, meaning it is banned in both schools and homes. Those countries include New Zealand, Iceland, Portugal, Spain and a number of Scandinavian and Central and South American nations.

Thirty-eight countries, including the United States, the UK and Canada, had partial bans, in which such punishment is prohibited only in schools.

The remaining 20, which include Israel, Egypt and a number of African countries, had no ban in place at the time of the study.

“Boys in countries with a full ban showed 69% the rate of fighting found in countries with no ban,” Elgar said. “In girls, the gap was even larger, with 42% the rate of fighting found in countries with no ban.”

The lowest rates of violence were found in Costa Rica, Portugal, Finland, Honduras, Spain, New Zealand and Sweden, in that order.