Print Сite this

Physical Punishment for Children and Its Impact

Since ancient times, physical punishment has been one of the most popular methods of child upbringing. Given the current level of violence, it should come as no wonder that physical punishment is so widespread. Thus, critics cannot consider such physical punishment as a sole problem; it is, actually, just another spin-off of society’s difficulties, and the reactions of people to certain stresses and to particular characteristics of their makeup, whether genetic, psychological, or communal. A child beater could be the same sociopath who goes around breaking windows for the fun of it, or a person gets into fights at the least provocation. Physical punishment for children is related to such concepts as child abuse and molestation prohibited by the law and implying criminal responsibility for abusers. Today, physical punishment is prohibited in schools and at home, but still, many parents use this type of punishment to ‘educate’ their children. Physical punishment causes more harm than good, because it results in great psychical and emotional suffering of children but does not improve their behavior and attitudes.

We will write a
custom essay
specifically for you

for only $16.05 $11/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More

Parents who u children, may well have been abused themselves as children, or watched their fathers assault their children. Poverty and being without a job may have something to do with it, as they do with all other kinds of violence. There is an example when a father stabbed his child to death because he lost his temper over her constant complaints about his inability to hold down a job. Unemployment is not the only reason for physical punishment. To begin with, the role that custom plays in bringing physical punishment about and in preventing it cannot be ignored. There are, thus, certain “rules” that govern violent behavior within a particular group (Miller-Perrin and Wurtele 2001). The murder of kin to uphold a family’s honor occurs frequently among Arab Muslims. Critics also know that many cultures, including that of the Japanese, had a long history of using infanticide — the killing of children — to get rid of unwanted daughters. In the ancient world, imperfect children were hurled to their deaths from the pick of Mount Taygetus, and in Africa, in the South Pacific, and among our own American Indians, it was not uncommon for the younger members of a family to do away with the elderly members when they became decrepit and lost their capacity to work. The physical punishment that troubles society today is a good deal different from those issues from the past. Physical punishment goes far beyond any cultural values, for in America it occurs among almost all the ethnic groups that make up our nation. Therefore, it is a psychological problem for many parents. It often occurs in families only because society still regards violence as a legitimate way to react, to keep things in hand, to discipline, to get revenge (Vitiello, 1997). Physical punishment stands as a glaring example of how some adults attempt to control, take revenge on a family member who has broken a “rule,” or take out personal frustrations and insecurity. Seldom, if ever, is the victim at fault in cases of true child abuse. Critics are not talking here about the light tap on the cheek or the rear end of a child who has irritated his or her mother or dad. Although some child psychologists argue that all forms of physical violence, no matter how minor, are to be fated, this is not the sort of child abuse that has medical specialists and police departments alarmed (Ackerman and Rogers 2007).

Usually, one hears of the cases in which very young children are physically punished; because a young child is particularly susceptible, these are the incidents that generally receive extensive media attention. But according to specialists in modern social science, adults, too, are abused. “They are likely to be on the receiving end of abuse in different ways than they were as children,” says one report on the subject (Greven 1992, p. 87). The point about the children who are abused become abusers themselves is a telling one, and one that keeps appearing in statistical data of mistreated children. It can be clearly explained by the following facts: when a young child becomes parents, they have not, actually, trained for the job. In fact, they received much more training when they learned how to drive a track and got their licenses. Adults learn how to be parents pretty much “on the job.” (Smullens, 2002). They feel their way through it, making mistakes, learning from them, and in most cases, doing pretty well in the end. But about all they can draw on is what they have learned in their own homes, from their parents. And too often, parents know no other way of “teaching” a child than by using physical punishment (Graczyk 1998).

A child who has been treated harshly cannot help being affected by the hostile actions of their parents, and when they grow up and have their own children, they find it difficult to be tolerant; so they respond by being aggressive. Studies by Greven (1992), an analyst at Medical School, found some years ago that repeated brutalization as a small child by parents or parent substitutes turned up in the backgrounds of some people who later killed a relative or family member. Greven (1992) found out several other issues. One was that the abusers experienced long periods of loneliness during childhood. Another was that they lacked the ability to play games. Furthermore, some parents had low feelings of their worth and experienced a good deal of disgrace as children. Other experts have suggested that raising twins places enough stress on parents to add to the risk of physical punishment in these families. Other studies indicate that physical punishment rates are higher in large families and in families where there are short time periods between births (Straus and Donnelley,1994). The increased stress of child-rearing under such conditions has been blamed for the higher rate. In a recent report, Rosemond (2000) explains that analysts who conducted a study of child abuse concluded that although such abuse results from a complex mix of many factors, parents should be aware of the huge physical and economic requirements they will have with two infants. Furthermore, they found that in families with twins, siblings are victims more frequently than the twins themselves — a finding that suggests that the birth of twins places tremendous stress on the entire family (Kennedy, 2007).

Serious as the pressure is on the family as a whole, it is clear that the children who are physically punished suffer the most. Apart from the physical marks, which can be incredibly disfiguring, there are the imperceptible ones left on the children’s minds. There is the guilt that a child often feels for having done something wrong to deserve such punishment. There is an envy for the parent who physically punishes the child. Children are likely to leave home and possibly turn to prostitution. It should be noted that not all physical punishment is directed at children. Verbal abuse, refusal, or desert can be just as devastating to a child as a blow. One might also ask whether physical punishment is a form of child abuse (Hopper 200S). Since a child is the least likely one to report such a case, the burden lies with other members of the family, neighbors, friends, and with medical staff, who often see the abused children in hospital rooms. Thus, again, it is up to critics to be attentive for evidence of physical punishment, and to at least make known our concern when it is supposed. Clearly, researchers have no right to blame someone based on weak proof; there is always the hazard of false indictment in cases when physical punishment, or any crime, is committed. But there is nothing incorrect with confiding doubts to a close friend, to churchmen or school principal, or even to a policeman (Kennedy, 2007; Pro-Corporal Punishment Answers 2001).

In general, though, parents have become more aware of the problem of physical punishment and it has received much media attention recently. For many reasons, the same physical punishment does not always apply to spouse abuse. Right, reports discussing the battered child and the prevalence of the issues appear frequently in newspapers and TV news. But the actual incidents of physical punishment — which is more widespread than abuse — are not portrayed as frequently as the cases in a battered child. It is typically only when a child has been murdered by a father that the issue is aired fully (Rosemond, 2000). From time to time, children themselves are too afraid to disclose that they have been physically punished; they fear the father might retaliate and beat them more. They may also be embarrassed to discuss such incidents with others. Or, they may experience they were at responsibility for provoking a father to punishment them, and so they remain quiet. When police are called, they often find it difficult to determine — unless the child shows serious physical injuries — whether a family fight or a beating has occurred. Thus, police from time to time send away such people, and write them down in their reports as only a “domestic argument.” Friends and neighbors may also be of little support for a child. From time to time, they are unwilling to get involved in personal family problems and upbringing; at other times, they may encourage the child, who may have left home after an incident, to return to a family and “try to work it out.” Such advice only proves any feelings a child may have that it is he who is responsible. Some critics also consider that children are responsible because they behave ably — that is, that they enjoy being beaten. Others say that they are free to leave whenever badly but that they do not because abusive parents often assure never to do it again, beg for forgiveness, or excuse their behavior simply by saying they just lost their heads temporarily (Rathbum, 2007). This type involves an actual physical punishment (Miller, 2000).

In sum, physical punishment is unlawful as it is the same as abuse and maltreatment of a child. Behavior like that can be as devastating as a blow with a fist or a slap, but it is not the sort of abuse that a woman can rely on in court if she is trying to prove her husband is abusing her. Physical punishment may not be justified to people familiar with the details of a certain case. But it is not always easy to convince a court. Moreover, many authorities still question whether enough scientific knowledge about what is called the battered woman syndrome exists to permit psychologists and psychiatrists to testify as expert witnesses on the subject. Physical punishment does not improve the behavior of a child but increases family violence and leads to psychological distress and disorders in later years.

Get your
100% original paper
on any topic

done in as little as
3 hours
Learn More


Ackerman, T., Rogers, B. (2007). Mother may face more charges of child abuse. Houston and Texas News. Web.

Graczyk, M. (1998). Survey details child abuse growing in Texas. Associated Press. Web.

Greven, P. J. (1992). Spare the Child: The Religious Roots of Punishment and the Psychological. Vintage.

Hopper, J. Child Abuse. (2007). Web.

Kennedy, R. (2007). Corporal Punishment -Should Beating Be Banned?. Web.

Miller, A. (2000). For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 3rd edition.

Miller-Perrin, C. L., Wurtele, S. K. (2001). Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: Sharing the Responsibility. University of Nebraska Press.

We will write a custom
for you!
Get your first paper with
15% OFF
Learn More

Pro-Corporal Punishment Answers (2001). Web.

Rathbum, S. (2007). Recent child abuse cases raise question. Web.

Rosemond, J. (2000). To Spank Or Not To Spank. Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Straus, M.A., Donnelley, D.A. (1994). Beating the Devil Out of Them: Corporal Punishment in American Families. Lexington Books.

Smullens, S. (2002) The 5 Cycles of Emotional Abuse: Investigating a Malignant Victimization. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association 5, (1); 16-22.

Vitiello, M. (1997). Three Strikes: Can We Return to Rationality. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 87, (1): 395-481.

Cite this paper

Select style


StudyCorgi. (2021, December 4). Physical Punishment for Children and Its Impact. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, December 4). Physical Punishment for Children and Its Impact.

Work Cited

"Physical Punishment for Children and Its Impact." StudyCorgi, 4 Dec. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Physical Punishment for Children and Its Impact." December 4, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Physical Punishment for Children and Its Impact." December 4, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Physical Punishment for Children and Its Impact." December 4, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Physical Punishment for Children and Its Impact'. 4 December.

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.