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Corporal Punishment as Behavioral Management


The problem of managing children’s behavior has always been challenging to the public because there is no unified view on what effective procedures should be implemented for doing so. When it comes to corporal punishment of children, the public has disregarded the problem and did not associate it with domestic violence despite the adverse effect it had on children’s physical and emotional well-being. It is proposed to analyze this problem from a scholarly point of view in order to provide an effective explanation of the negative influence of such punishments and to prove that they are forms of domestic violence.

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As mentioned by Hyland, Alkhalaf, and Whalley (2013), corporal punishments that parents use to manage their children’s conduct not only impair their physical health but also lead to mental issues that can deteriorate their behaviors even further. The problem lies in the public not giving enough attention to corporal punishments while exploring domestic violence as a pervasive issue.

For example, in the report prepared by Fortson, Klevens, Merrick, Gilbert, and Alexander (2016) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it was mentioned that one in seven children had been subjected to abuse; importantly, the researchers pointed out that the was not enough legislative approaches that could reduce the corporal punishment of children. Despite the fact that there is some evidence to suggest that domestic violence is a pervasive issue that negatively influences the emotional and physical well-being of children, there is still a need for finding more statistical data that will point to the adverse impact of corporal punishments.

Problem Analysis

Parents are the main people who are responsible for their children’s development, understanding of the world around them, and promoting desirable behaviors that meet special standards and rules. Misbehavior of children is a burning topic for consideration in many countries because parents want to choose the most appropriate options to solve this problem, the society aims at protecting children and their rights, and policymakers have to consider all aspects to make sure that justice and clarity are supported.

In many countries, corporal punishment is the way of how parents try to manage their children’s behaviors. Many American parents believe that one good spanking may replace a number of words and explanations (Lansford et al., 2014). However, the problem is not that parents choose this option because of its simplicity and fast effects. The concern is that not all parents, as well as other family members, are actually aware of the outcomes of corporal punishment on their children, promoting the development and support of domestic violence.

The point is that corporate punishment is usually explained as an activity that is used to change child maltreatment. Still, Schneider, MacKenzie, Waldfogel, and Brooks-Gunn (2015) admit that it is wrong to compare or combine the terms of corporate punishment and child maltreatment, and the possibility to introduce these two terms as synonyms result in high risks of physical abuse and domestic violence.

Many social workers and political stakeholders may find it necessary to develop special legislation and laws to protect children against their parents. At the same time, it is wrong to support the possibility of partial interference of the government in family affairs. It is necessary to gather enough information, clarify each action and a situation in general, and consider all possible factors that may influence child and parental behavior. The problem is that the law is not always a solution to corporal punishment and domestic violence.

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There are many factors and reasons that can be used to explain corporal punishment chosen by parents as a method of behavioral management. Despite possible similarities between corporal punishment and domestic violence, Lansford et al. (2014) suggest focusing on the social circumstances of different countries. For example, the countries that support an authoritarian style of parenting do not find corporal punishment as a problem, and the counties where laissez-faire parenting is promoted may ban corporal punishment in any form (Lansford et al., 2014).

Schneider et al. (2015) discover another aspect of this problem, explaining that the appropriateness of corporal punishment may depend on a person who reports on domestic violence. The recognition of all these factors proves that the problem of child maltreatment and corporate punishment cannot be fast solved. Much time, clear examples, and cultural peculiarities have to be taken into consideration.

The problem of domestic violence has to be solved because it also influences public opinion and attitudes. It is not enough to state that the punishment of children is wrong or right. It is necessary to be ready to discover all its merits and demerits through the prism of such issues as education, legislation, and research. Mental health problems, unstable behaviors, poor academic achievements, and low employment may be the results of corporal punishment in families. At the same time, the absence of control and punishment may lead to the same problems. Therefore, thorough research and strong arguments have to be used to prove the extent to which corporal punishment may be approved, and the limitations when this type of punishment as a type of domestic violence cannot be allowed.

The audience, Causes and Risk

The audience for this research project includes parents with young children, people who are expecting to become parents in the near future, as well as parenting professionals who often provide advice to younger parents. The age of the audience may vary due to the different circumstances in which people become parents. They may range from very young 16-year-olds to people in their 40s and 50s.

Parents of all genders may utilize the information presented in this study, as well as parents from any cultural or ethnic background. Solutions presented in this study should be almost universally applicable to any family that desires to discipline their children in a healthy and non-traumatic fashion. Parenting professionals should also find this information useful because it presents some of the most current approaches to parenting and data on the effects of corporal punishment.

The causes for the negative effects of corporal punishment are relatively clear. The process of a parent hitting a child is inherently traumatic in any culture. A child in this situation experiences both physical and psychological suffering which may stay with him for the duration of their life. Such punishment may also cause serious injury and in worst cases death to the child (Holden, Brown, Baldwin, & Croft Caderao, 2014; Breen, Daniels, & Tomlinson, 2015).

The risk that parents take in an attempt to punish the child’s wrongdoing is much too great for the results that it often provides. This is why the issue of corporal punishment is so often discussed. People aim to minimize the risks, while still providing just punishment for children’s negative actions. This paper should be able to provide possible ways of more risk-averse forms of discipline that would not harm or traumatize children.

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When it comes to the suggested solutions to reduce the occurrence of corporal punishments for children, researchers have proposed that parents eliminate spanking when managing their children’s behaviors because this method lacks the expected effectiveness (Gershoff, 2013). In addition, it was found that there had been an increased rate of deaths associated with domestic violence; 64% of victims die from different reasons, which means that corporal punishments should not be disregarded as a category of domestic violence (Sherman & Harris, 2015). It is also important to mention that children and women are the main targets of domestic abuse because of their lower abilities to resist the assaults (Herschell, Scudder, Schaffner, & Slagel, 2017).

This means that corporal punishments are forms of violence because children’s physical abilities make them more susceptible to the manifestations of physical force. Solutions to address the issue of the negative impact of corporal punishments on children require finding studies whose authors propose alternative techniques for managing children’s behaviors.

A possible solution to reduce corporal punishments and domestic abuse of children, in general, is associated with parents’ education on how to model their behaviors in order to positively impact relationships between them and their children. For instance, mothers who are affectionate and warm toward their children can get away with occasional spanking as a discipline method as opposed to hostile mothers who have tense relations with their children.

It is also proposed to facilitate consistency to enhance the effectiveness of reprimanding children for bad behaviors. For example, when parents act erratically and do not have an established system of disciplinary procedures, they resort to impulsive punishments that can later turn into domestic violence. Facilitating healthy child development is another suggestion to avoid corpora punishments; as mentioned by Merrick (2013) in the article “Child health and human development over the lifespan,” there is a range of issues such as bullying, depression, school violence, child abuse, and neglect, all of which impair children’s development and lead to the deterioration of their emotional and physical health.

The use of appropriate strategies of teaching and psychological counseling is likely to increase children’s self-awareness and make them more prone to being able of expressing their opinions and regulate the tension between them and their parents. Overall, there is a variety of strategies for addressing the problem of corporal punishments of children; however, the issue with laws not addressing these punishments legally is likely to deteriorate the situation even further.


The benefits of the implementation of these solutions are numerous. The first and perhaps the most important benefit is the elimination or at the very least reduction of instances of child abuse as a result of corporal punishment. After informing parents about effective and harmless solutions to childhood discipline, they should become more aware of the damage that corporal punishment can cause, as well as how ineffective it is as a teaching tool.

Parenting is a difficult and stressful activity in which parents may not have a clear idea of what to do. This especially applies to situations that require disciplinary action on the part of the parent. Children are able to commit very harmful and dangerous acts. Therefore punishment is essential, but it is difficult to determine which kind of punishment would be effective and not harmful to the child. The information that these solutions bring should be beneficial to parents who are unable to make a decision about disciplinary actions. A healthy and structured system of discipline would benefit both parents and children.

Ideally, punishments are a last resort solution, and through the healthy development of the child, the majority of them would be avoided. However, frequent punishments may become a form of domestic abuse, which should be prevented (Fréchette, Zoratti, & Romano, 2015). Overall, the benefits are expected to be substantial if the solutions presented in this study become common knowledge to parents of all ages. Even people who become parents at an older age should gain a benefit because the modern approaches discussed in the study are not as well-known as the older ones. Children should not become victims of domestic abuse because of their parents’ ignorance.

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The majority of people are aware that corporal punishment is harmful to children, but the need for additional research into the adverse effects that it may have on a child should still be performed. Despite the relatively high levels of awareness, people are able to underestimate the danger that such practices can lead to. Stubborn parents may follow the example that their parents set by administering corporal punishment to them and disregard the available evidence as irrelevant.

However, this is a very significant problem, which may lead to terrible consequences if it is not resolved. The line between corporal punishment and domestic violence is almost nonexistent, and the former can lead to the latter when it becomes a habit. The solutions presented in this study can be used by any parent, regardless of their age or gender. By educating parents on how they may safely discipline their children, and increasing their awareness of domestic violence, they might prevent further abuse and possible cases of child injury and death. These solutions would provide clear benefits to both parents and children, as well as improve society as a whole.

Parents can be prone to make mistakes, and the dramatic responsibility that they have to deal with on a daily basis can be overwhelming. This is why education should be at the core of the fight against corporal punishment. People can be very defensive when their parenting style is criticized, but perhaps by hearing advice from qualified professionals, their response would be different. Hopefully, the solutions presented in this study would be taken into consideration by parenting professionals and counselors who seek to provide the most effective advice to their clients.


Breen, A., Daniels, K., & Tomlinson, M. (2015). Children’s experiences of corporal punishment: A qualitative study in an urban township of South Africa. Child Abuse & Neglect, 48, 131–139.

Fortson, B., Klevens, J., Merrick, M., Gilbert, L., & Alexander, S. (2016). Preventing child abuse and neglect: A technical package for policy, norm, and programmatic activities. Web.

Fréchette, S., Zoratti, M., & Romano, E. (2015). What is the link between corporal punishment and child physical abuse? Journal of Family Violence, 30(2), 135–148.

Gershoff, E. (2013). Spanking and child development: We know enough now to stop hitting our children. Child Development Perspectives, 7(3), 133-137.

Herschell, A., Scudder, A., Schaffner, K., & Slagel, L. (2017). Feasibility and effectiveness of parent-child interaction therapy with victims of domestic violence: A pilot study. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26(1), 271-283.

Holden, G. W., Brown, A. S., Baldwin, A. S., & Croft Caderao, K. (2014). Research findings can change attitudes about corporal punishment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(5), 902–908.

Hyland, M., Alkhalaf, A. M., & Whalley, B. (2013). Beating and insulting children as a risk for adult cancer, cardiac disease and asthma. Journal of Behavioural Medicine, 36(6), 632-640.

Lansford, J. E., Sharma, C., Malone, P. S., Woodlief, D., Dodge, K. A., Oburu, P.,… Giunta, L.D. (2014). Corporal punishment, maternal warmth, and child adjustment: A longitudinal study in eight countries. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 43(4), 670-685.

Merrick, J. (2013). Child health and human development over the lifespan. Frontiers in Public Health, 1, 1-10.

Schneider, W., MacKenzie, M., Waldfogel, J., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2015). Parent and child reporting of corporal punishment: New evidence from the fragile families and child wellbeing study. Child Indicators Research, 8(2), 347-358.

Sherman, L., & Harris, H. (2015). Increased death rates of domestic violence victims from arresting vs. warning suspects in the Milwaukee Domestic Violence Experiment (MilDVE). Journal of Experimental Criminology, 11(1), 1-20.

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