Tag Archives: violence

Stop Hitting Kids in School: An Interview with Nadine Block

By Lisa Lord, editor of The Attached Family.com.

spankOutLogoThough research continues to show that spanking and other forms of physical punishment are both ineffective and harmful, and despite many nations across the globe instituting bans on corporal punishment in schools and homes, the laws of the United States still do not reflect this reality. Corporal punishment teaches children that violence is a way to solve problems. Children worried about being paddled are not free to learn. And according to The Center for Effective Discipline (CED), certain groups–poor children, minorities, children with disabilities and boys–are hit in schools up to 2-5 times more often than other children. Nadine Block, cofounder of the CED and SpankOut Day April 30, is committed to changing this for American children and children everywhere.

Block spearheaded the advocacy movement in Ohio, USA, that resulted in a legislative ban on school corporal punishment in that state in 2009. In her latest book, Breaking the Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment, Block shares her experience and wisdom to inspire others to join the movement to end corporal punishment of children, and to give them the tools to make it happen.

It was enlightening and inspiring to talk with her about what advocates have been able to achieve thus far, how much farther we all have to go to see the end of child corporal punishment and how the United States compares to other nations when it comes to legally-sanctioned physical punishment of children.

LISA: Tell us about your new book Breaking the Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment. What inspired you to write this?

NADINE: I wanted to bring attention to the existence of the practice, because over 200,000 children in 19 states are still being permitted to be hit for misbehavior. This is shameful and unnecessary—and a lot of people don’t know it’s still going on.

I also want to give people tools to protect their children as much as possible if their school districts still permit corporal punishment, and to help end it for all children. It is not enough to say, “No paddling.” You have to show people how it can be ended and encourage them to do so. My experience of more than 25 years of working at all levels–local, state and federal–gives me a unique perspective to be able to do that. About 70 percent of adults in surveys say we should ban it, so I wonder where is the tipping point? When can we get this done?

LISA: How do you feel about the U.S. status globally on the topic of corporal punishment of children?

NADINE: I am embarrassed that we are the only country other than Somalia that has not signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which provides for giving children basic human rights including protection from harm. I am embarrassed that over 100 countries have banned corporal punishment in schools and that 36 have banned it in all settings, even homes, but we allow it in schools in 19 states and in homes in every state.

LISA: As a parent, the thought that someone else would be legally allowed to hit my child is shocking.

NADINE: In some school districts, parents have no right to disagree or to prevent this. In those cases, we tell the parents to write a letter stating that under no condition should their child be hit, and if the school needs help disciplining the child, then the parent will come to school and meet with the staff. Then the parent should sign and date the letter and try to have the child’s pediatrician sign as well. I’ve found that most school districts would be hesitant to hit that child, because the parents have said unequivocally not to.

LISA: You worked as a school psychologist and saw the effects of corporal punishment firsthand. You said in a previous interview with API, “One cannot study learning and behavior without becoming opposed to physical punishment of children. It is harmful and ineffective in the long term.” What kinds of effects on learning and psychological well-being have you seen?

NADINE: We know that people learn best in a more nurturing environment. It is hard to learn when fear is a motivator. Kids may also become school resistant and not want to go to school, and part of the reason is fear of getting paddled, especially for sensitive children who are hurt by even seeing someone else paddled. In my book, I have an example of a reading teacher who tells how kids would come into her reading group anxious and worried, either because they would be hit when they got back to the classroom for something they did, or because of something they saw.

It is not a way to teach children to be independent. What does this teach them about [what to do] when the punisher isn’t nearby? This is not what we want for the long term. We want people who are independent and know that following rules is good for them and the country and their family, not just to escape punishment.

LISA: Why do you think that policymakers ignore research when it so plainly spells out the risks of corporal punishment on children? Who is opposing ending corporal punishment in schools?

NADINE: A lot of it is regional. There are areas of the country, particularly the South and rural areas, where people tend to be more supportive of the use of corporal punishment and do not want it to be interfered with. Some have not fully examined it and give a knee-jerk response. It’s a very emotional issue for them. To question the use of corporal punishment is to question the parenting they had, the parenting they are giving and authority in general.

I believe it shows a fear of losing authority. They look through a prism of tradition, order and faith [religion]. They believe that parents are losing authority and children are worse than ever before in history. They do not believe the statistics that show young people today are less violent, have fewer out-of-wedlock babies, and do less drugs and drinking. They read about a few bad apples and extrapolate that to a whole population.

LISA: What is your strategy when you meet this kind of resistance?

NADINE: The first thing to realize is that social change is slow, but people do change over time. If they hear a message over and over again, they tend to come around. You have to be temperate, consistent and persistent. You may move people, but it may not happen quickly.

In the beginning, it was difficult because I thought that bringing research and reasoned arguments would change hearts and minds. I learned it is much more difficult. You have to appeal to emotions, too, such as with stories about children who are injured. You have to be consistent and temperate in response to critics, who are often quite angry. We move slowly in protecting children but have not gone backward. Knowing you are on the winning side makes advocacy much easier.

If you can get people in the community or the church to come on the side [of opposing corporal punishment], it’s easier. For example, when I found that several African American school board members supported corporal punishment and didn’t want it taken out of schools, Dr. Alvin Poussaint and I asked 20 national African American leaders–including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., and Marian Wright Edelman [founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund]–to sign a proclamation calling for an immediate ban on corporal punishment in schools. Having that proclamation come from inside was helpful.

LISA: If you are from one of the states that doesn’t allow corporal punishment, then it might not be on your radar screen at all.

 NADINE: Right. I think that people from the North, such as New Jersey, where corporal punishment has been banned a long time, need to start moving toward the more European model, which is to ban it in all settings, like 36 countries have done. We can do that incrementally, if necessary, like not allowing the use of instruments to beat children or not allowing children with disabilities to be hit. Protecting children still needs to be on the radar.

There have been a few bills in states like Massachusetts where they have tried to do that. But they will have to try more than once to educate people about why this is needed. It’s so much easier to kill bills in legislature than to pass them.

LISA: In a part of your book, you mention that most educators are not sadists, but they are using the paddling because that is all that is promoted at the school for discipline. Perhaps you can recommend some great positive discipline programs for schools that want to consider transitioning from corporal punishment?

NADINE: Our education goal is to improve instruction and behavior for all students. We want to have caring, informed, empathic, productive citizens. It means using misbehavior as an opportunity for teaching rather than just punishing. It means recognizing that most misbehavior is a mistake in judgment. It means thinking about what we, as adults, want to happen when we make mistakes. We want to learn from them, not be hit for them. It means teaching children social skills they need to behave appropriately, such as listening, asking questions politely, cooperation, managing anger and disagreement, and sharing.

The successful programs are data based and provide a decision-making framework that supports good practices every day throughout the district. Many school districts use Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS). It is a U.S. Department of Education system-wide effort that involves using data for decision making, defining measurable outcomes that can be evaluated and supported, and implementing evidence-based practices that can be used for prevention. So instead of punishing kids for specific things, it looks at what we are punishing kids for–perhaps tardiness or fighting in the halls, for example–collecting data so that we know what needs to be changed, then looking at preventive practices that could be used decrease the problems. (See the CED’s website for more information about positive discipline programs.)

In school districts, there is either an atmosphere of looking at things to punish or looking for a way to solve problems. I’d rather be in a district looking for ways to solve problems.

LISA: How can parents and professions start an advocacy effort and locate like-minded policy lawmakers to join them?

NADINE: Advocates for bans should check the list of national organizations that have positions against school corporal punishment. There are more than 50 of them on the CED website.

Start by gathering a support group. At the state level, work on those organizations that already have positions against corporal punishment. Get them to sign a proclamation calling on the state legislature to ban it. Having a long list of organizations shows support for a ban.

Locally look at the organizations that have positions against corporal punishment and find members in the community, such as PTA members, psychologists and mental health professionals, and physicians, especially pediatricians and ER [emergency room] doctors who see paddling injuries. Parents who have had children injured often make wonderful supporters.

Keep informed by reading stories about corporal punishment and doing research on its effects. Join organizations like The Center for Effective Discipline. Help start or join organizations seeking bans in your state. (The CED can help identify these.)

As for lawmakers, take a look at their websites. What bills have they introduced? What is their background? For example, Governor Ted Strickland was a compassionate psychologist prior to becoming a legislator, and he was instrumental in getting a ban in Ohio schools. If you are trying to change a school district policy, attend a board of education meeting. You can tell a lot about the board members by questions they ask, their empathy for children and parents, and their responses.

This is what I did in Ohio. The states around Ohio, like Kentucky and Indiana, still have corporal punishment, but we don’t because we worked at it.

LISA: What effect do you hope your book will have on society?

NADINE: First I want to say corporal punishment in schools is still going on. It isn’t appropriate, and we need to change it. Also I want to tell people how they can do this, to give them the tools and the process they need to go through.

If you take on something like this, you will meet wonderful people, you will feel good about helping children, and you will teach them that giving back is so important. You get so much more back than you ever put in. No state has ever rescinded laws in corporal punishment in schools. Some people have tried, but it has never happened. This is a winning-side argument—and it is a great side to be on. It is the winning side of history.

Visit the Center for Effective Discipline (www.stophitting.com) for information and resources including effective discipline at home, successful positive discipline programs for schools, tools for advocacy efforts, and the latest news from the CED.

Prevent Your Child From Becoming a Bully

By Sarah Fudin, social media and outreach coordinator for USC Rossier Online.

According to a recent infographic from USC Rossier Online, “School Bullying Outbreak,” one in four children are bullied every month and 160,000 students miss school every day to avoid bullies. But what is really disturbing is how many children can easily become the perpetrator. Up to 42 percent of students have admitted to bullying a peer, and 43 percent of middle school students have threatened to harm a peer. Thus, not only do we need to teach our children how to deal with bullying, we also need to teach them not to engage in bullying behavior.1159995_79733938 outkast

Several studies have shown that secure attachment to parents decreases the chance of a student becoming a bully. In a 2010 study published in the Canadian Journal of School Psychology, “Attachment Quality and Bullying Behavior in School-Aged Youth,” Laura M. Walden and Tanya M. Beran found a correlation between lower quality attachment relationships to primary caregivers and bullying behavior. Students’ sex and grade levels were not significant factors. Students that reported higher quality attachment relationships with their parents were less likely to bully others.

A University of Virginia study conducted by Megan Eliot, M.Ed. and Dewy Cornell, Ph.D., “The Effect of Parental Attachment on Bullying in Middle School,” found a relationship between insecure parental attachment and children who bullied. Continue reading Prevent Your Child From Becoming a Bully

Letter to the Editor: The Truth about TV

By Joanna Glass, leader of API of Garner, North Carolina

Editor’s Note: This Letter to the Editor was written inTV time response to an article published on The Attached Family on July 28, 2009, “TV as a Teaching Tool?” The topics on The Attached Family are open for discussion, and readers are welcome to write articles in response to any of the articles published in this ezine. Attachment Parenting International will clarify any points related specifically to the Eight Principles of Parenting; but with topics that do not fall directly under the Eight Principles, we aim to foster a healthy discussion of ways that parents can strengthen their attachment with their child. To submit a response for publication, e-mail editor@attachmentparenting.org.

We all hear the negative about television. Television is associated with obesity, sleep problems, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), violent behavior, and poor school performance. Is there truth to it? Should we blame our problems on electronic media?

Author’s Note: I wrote to my fellow leaders and to API Headquarters asking about this issue and approached them with some of my feelings about what I have learned over the years. They were very open and receptive to hearing some of the alternatives to some of the negative information that is being brought up about this subject, so I wrote this article. It is a bit longer than I planned. The wonderful view of API is that families of varying beliefs can participate. It is open to everyone. It is an online community that has not created a homophily atmosphere, which has begun to plagues so many other sites and groups.

API groups and forums leave so much room for diversity, and with diversity, we have room to grow as people and as parents. If we homogenize everything and only associate with parents who believe the same thing, we are only hurting ourselves and our children, for our children are not us, they are their own person who craves exposure to new information.


The information that the American Academy of Pedatrics based their statement on was shown not to be factual. This information can be obtained directly from the ADHD sites and the author of the “study” himself.

Dimitri Christakis, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and co-director of the school’s Institute for Child Health, admits that his study was limited. He based his research on a previous survey of about 1,300 mothers who recalled the television habits of their children in early childhood. Such after-the-fact reporting is considered highly fallible, because parents often over- or under-report the amount of TV watched.

What’s more, the study linked TV-viewing to general attention problems rather than to diagnosed ADD. Study participants were never asked whether their children had Attention Deficit Disorder. Instead, the study looked at five kinds of attention difficulties, including “obsessive concerns” and “confusion,” neither of which are core ADD symptoms.

Nor did the study consider the kinds of programs children watched. Educational programs, such as Blue’s Clues or Mr. Rogers, which have a slower pace, rely on storytelling, and avoid rapid zooms, abrupt cuts, and jarring noises, weren’t differentiated from more aggressive programming. Neither did the researchers consider whether TV-viewing and attention difficulties presented a chicken-or-egg situation. According to an article in ADDitude Magazine, “Living Well with ADD and Learning Disabilities,” some critics suggest that younger children with pre-existing attention deficits may be drawn to watching TV, while solving simple puzzles or concentrating on games would be an uphill battle. They add that parents of these children might turn to the TV for relief more frequently than parents of kids who have less trouble staying focused.

Another interesting article about ADD and technology by Joel Spolsky stated: “ADD is often marked by an inability to focus on a given task or, in the case of ADHD, a tendency to hyperfocus and then lose complete focus. Just as with multiple personality, mainstream media has made autism and ADD appear to be commonplace and everywhere.

Technologists have also adopted and promoted these concepts, marking them as valuable to the way of geek life. Many of you are staring at your laptops, multitasking. At computer conferences these days, like the one where this talk was given, it’s not unusual for 80% or 90% of the audience to be using laptops for something during the presentations.”

Our society requires that we be able to not have complete focus at all times. Many parents assume that their child sitting very focused on the television program is a lack of focus, when in fact it is not. We disrupt them and pull them away, which actually creates the problem with paying attention. Just because it may not be something that we are interested in doesn’t mean it is any less important.

Parents will excuse situations by commenting that if it is educational, then it is OK, but as a child who was brought up with this concept, I lacked one most important lesson: The lesson of doing something for the joy of it and because it was what I wanted, something I am learning to do now. For a child, play and joy are the first and most important lessons in life. As a parent, you may not learn something out of watching a children’s program or playing a computer game, but your child may: personal happiness – self happiness that was not created only because you told them it was something they could be happy about. Once I found out how important this was to my child, I found absolute joy in watching and participating with their digital life. I don’t always get it, but what I get is a connection and a bond with my child. They know I trust them enough to find their path and their own joy and that it doesn’t impact my personal beliefs or make either of us wrong.


Television does not promote violence. Children watching violent programs without their parents taking the time to explain things to them can create situations where violence can occur.

Dozens of books have been written, hundreds of studies published, and hundreds of thousands of invectives thrown by each side towards the other. Despite the extensive research, video games have not been proven to be harmful or to cause violence. The persistence of opponents in trying to pin society’s issues on television and video games is an unfair attempt to demonize a new media for issues that it has not caused.

What makes kids smack others and maybe grow into homicidal adults? Not the tube, says new research, but a lack of social skills – something that television can also provide as an increasing number of families have lost this ability, even down to the basic act of knowing how to invite someone to their home or even how to ready a home for company.

All babies are born with violent tendencies, which most kids learn to control as they grow older, a University of Montreal professor who has spent more than 20 years studying 35,000 Canadian children told ScientificAmerican.com. Those who don’t or can’t learn are the ones who become violent. Author
Richard Tremblay states: “It’s a natural behavior, and it’s surprising that the idea that children and adolescents learn aggression from the media is still relevant. Clearly, youth were violent before television appeared. We’re looking at to what extent the chronically aggressive individuals show differences in terms of gene expressions compared to those on the normal trajectory. The individuals that are chronically aggressive have more genes that are not expressed.” This is an indication “that the problem is at a very basic level,” he added.

A pregnant woman’s smoking, drinking, poor nutrition, or exposure to excessive stress can cause or contribute to a fetus’s abnormal genetic development, Tremblay said. Damaged genes can prevent a child from learning skills for self-expression, reducing his ability to interact socially, and thus make him prone to violence. Tremblay cited genes involved with language acquisition and development as an example; children who can’t speak well get frustrated easily and can erupt violently as a result.

Violence is also passed on. Parents who have violent tendencies pass these along to their children. The prisons are filled with people who were abused as children and grew up to be abusive adults. This is not caused by television but by the lack of intervention and education for families to not use violence as a means to raise their children or solve their problems. We are a country based on fear and violence. We tell our children that we solve our problems by hitting them or hitting each other, and then get upset when they do it and blame television or other media. Violence has been around longer than television.

The Bible has more violence in it than most television programs, and I don’t often hear people saying “close that, turn it off, don’t read that, or you may become violent.” They actually take the time to talk about it with their children.

And I have even seen parents and churches use violence to force belief. It isn’t just the Bible, but all literature. Humans are naturally drawn to violence because we are raised with so much of it. For more information about the history of it and how violence perpetuated in American homes, you may want to read Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family.

Poor School Performance

Poor school performance has been blamed on so many things instead of what it really happening — that the American School systems are failing our children.

Children do not do well in school, because school has become a place where everything is controlled. Instead of children learning naturally and at their own pace, they are forced to learn information that they are not yet interested in or information is being put into them at a pace that they are not able to handle. The hours are too long and the methods being used are cookie-cutter ,not taking into account the individual. Children are being told what they can do from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep. Even the simple act of using the bathroom has become an issue.

Having to ask for permission to use a bathroom is a humiliating and very strange thing to do, something we have gotten use do as adults.

School is a place where all of your rights are stripped when you walk through that door. This isn’t conducive to learning. I have heard parents say that if children had complete control over when they could use the bathroom, there would be chaos. Maybe now there would be, as children have lost the ability to control themselves because we as adults have told them they can’t.

Then there are teachers. Many are not qualified, because it is such a low-paying job. It used to be thought that people would teach because they loved the job, not for the money, but when a family can’t afford to pay their rent, why would they want to teach? So we lose many of the better qualified teachers to jobs that can pay them for that knowledge.

One of the reasons behind our choice to homeschool: My husband worked for the Board of Education on a very high level seeing how those people were paid in excess of over $100 an hour and teachers paid next to nothing and zero money being spent on books. Classrooms were forced to share one book per class of students.

The food in most of our schools is some of the lowest grade food available. We know that healthy foods create a healthier brain and learning environment, but yet we feed our children the lowest quality foods. They have created environments where they have taken disruptive students and children who were not learning well in regular schools and put them into a school where they served healthy organic foods and it was proven a success. The food in our school systems is also another reason why our children are obese, not television.

Parents can do more to make changes in the system. One or two parents may be, but as a community, it is not happening. There are parents who feel they can’t do anything to help, but they can. No matter how small it may seem, everything you do to help your school or community can add to the bigger mixture of everyone else doing something small. Parents can look into charter schools and other educational opportunities for their children. My older children did public school until we moved to where we now live, and then after a year of absolute horror of the public school system here, we opted for charter schools. For our youngest we are homeschooling, actually unschooling.

Some Other Personal Thoughts

Are boundaries an issue or an answer? Are limits? It is more that the parents are not interacting and not discussing with their children what they are viewing and what their feelings are about it. I am not saying a three year old should watch a horror movie, but a teen might want to and wouldn’t it be better for a parent to say learn how to explain these situations to their child instead of him getting that explanation from someone or somewhere else?

I prefer not to dictate what my child watches in bits and pieces. I used to feel that way, and I realized I was not allowing my child to find themselves. I was trying to force them to be clones of myself, something they did not want to be and it caused more problems. For me, this was controlled parenting.

I have seen children crushed by parents because they have told them, this show isn’t good or this part is not good and the child really liked them. They felt crushed, because the parents were disapproving of something they loved.

I have also watched children who have limited TV and the way some parents disrespect their child. They walk up to the television in a middle of a show and turn it off, saying that is enough, choosing what the child’s limits are, telling the child that she is incapable of knowing who she is and what she enjoys. I then have not only witnessed, but have been an unwilling participant in, the child’s outburst.

At more than one play date, the child starting hitting the other children who were allowed to continue watching programs that were playing on a public TV. The parents had set up a hostile angry environment. The parent’s reasoning was she was unable to control herself, so she knew her child would not, either. She had set up a self-fulfilling prophecy that she is passing onto her child. Perhaps the parent had not learned any self control because she never took the time to learn self control. I have also seen parents who fear that their child will become something they do not want them to be or learn that there is a lifestyle different than their own, creating a non-diverse household. Not all of us are supposed to like the same thing. That is why there is so much variety in life.

I had limited my older two children, and it backfired completely, just as every other family I knew who did the same thing had happen. Our children never learned to limit themselves or control themselves. I was always doing the controlling for them – the same way that I and so many others were raised.

With my son Ronnie, I have done the exact opposite. Some days he will watch a couple of hours and some days nothing at all, but I don’t say “no” or comment in any way. He doesn’t have access to violence, but he isn’t interested. He chooses what programs he wants to watch on Noggin and the Public Broadcasting Service, and some of them I may not “get” but he does and that is what is important.

He is not obese, but still, I don’t think the problem with obesity is television. It is lack of activity and lack of affordable activity for most families and so many families not being able to afford better quality foods. I don’t see the community centers like I used to back in New York when my girls were younger. Everything is a paid for activity that most families cannot afford or cannot get to, so children are stuck at home with little to do and with lower grade foods that tend to not build energy and promote activity. The schools have taken away most of the activities, and sports are such an expense for so many families. Not all children are great at soccer, hockey, basketball, and football where the last of the physical activity money is being spent, and most of that is coming from parents who raise funds for them. I would love to see that same passion of fundraising come into play for books. But, back on topic, maybe the schools should have nature hikes each day for an hour, something all students could participate in without feeling inadequate or being forced to compete.

Children who binge-eat are generally from households where control is in every part of their lives, including their choices in food. They never learn to control themselves, and I would like to say from day one, their parents are controlling what they eat when, but it usually starts the moment Mommy stops breastfeeding. That is the point where mothers no longer trust their children and tell them when they are hungry, what they are hungry for, and when they are full. They stop trusting them to know when they are tired and when and where they will sleep. This is very confusing to small children who, up until that point, have been given absolute trust. Just as with adults, for small children, this leads to depression, shame, and guilt, which then can lead to inactivity and overeating and other eating and sleeping disorders and anger.

Blaming television or digital media is easy to do. It is so easy to be anti-something, but being for something and finding real solutions instead of saying “no, don’t do this and don’t do that” would be much more effective.

Commercials and advertisement are important. If we truly do not believe in their use, we have no business using them ourselves. We project our fear of not being able to control ourselves around commercials onto our children.

We, as a society, have no right to dictate what advertisement is okay and which one isn’t. I don’t like fast food, but I have no business telling Sesame Street that they can’t take that grant from McDonald’s because parents are not giving enough to support them.

Or what about TV shows that create toys? They do so for a reason. Children like to identify with their surroundings, and those toys offer this possibility outside the moment they are watching the show. Also, these toys offer employment to the people who make them — in many cases keeping a roof over a family’ head. Not everyone has the luxury of living in a beautiful home being able to sit back and say, “Well, making a toy based on the movie is just consumerism and wrong. Can’t there just be a TV show and a movie without it?”

It may be fine for one family or in reality that one person, but what about what the child wants or another family wants, or the family who is dependent on the income from making that toy. Again, I was anti-toys based on movies, but thankfully my daughter Jackie, now 22 years old, helped me to see the light in the situation: the good that the toy brought to the economy, the jobs it provided throughout the process, and then most importantly, the joy it brought her and her little brother.

Turning off the TV while the commercials while they are on does not teach our children about the commercials and does nothing to change the way they are broadcast. Changing the channel does not either. It just teaches children to turn it off or turn away and do nothing to fix it. Even small children understand more than we give them credit for. If they can understand enough to want something they see on a commercial, why do we deny them an explanation of why commercials exist? At what point do we decide that we are just so much better or smarter than they are and should this be a message we project to our children?

For small children, yes, PBS and commercial-free channels are great, but if you are watching them, then hopefully you are supporting them, even if just a few dollars a year. Living in a commercial-free world has a price, and as parents, we need to be willing to pay for it. I asked more than 70 parents during one of our events last year and not one of them gave to PBS, but all of them watched it. I can’t say I was surprised when I said that our local group was in financial crisis, that no one wanted to help raise funds. There seems to be a disconnect where when people think free, it means it costs nothing. Someone always has to pay.

The problem with keeping the flow with this attraction and not opening our minds to other views and possibilities is that we are cutting ourselves off from reality and diversity.

Abolishing Corporal Punishment of Children

From the Council of Europe

Council of Europe pushing to ban corporal punishmentThe Council of Europe wants a continent free of corporal punishment. Hitting people is wrong — and children are people, too.

To protect children from corporal punishment, the Council of Europe has developed tools for the use of governments, parliaments, local authorities, professional networks, civil society, and more generally, anyone caring for children.

Abolition of corporal punishment has become a global goal.

Criminalizing corporal punishment of children is not about putting parents in jail. Abolishing corporal punishment means promoting positive parenting.

What is Corporal Punishment of Children?

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child defines corporal punishment as “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.”

Most corporal punishment involves hitting — smacking, slapping, spanking — children, with the hand or with an implement. It can also involve kicking, shaking, or throwing children, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding, or forced ingestion.

Why Should We Abolish Corporal Punishment of Children?

  1. It is a violation of children’s rights to respect for physical integrity, human dignity, and equal protection under the law.
  2. It can cause serious physical and psychological harm to children.
  3. It teaches children that violence is an acceptable way of resolving conflict.
  4. It is ineffective as a means of discipline. There are positive ways to teach, correct, or discipline children that are better for children’s development and for family relations.
  5. It is more difficult to protect children if corporal punishment is legitimate — this implies that some forms or levels of violence against children are acceptable.

Children are not mini-human beings with mini-human rights.

How Can We Achieve Abolition?

  • Through law reform — introducing an explicit prohibition of all corporal punishment in all settings, including the home; ensuring there are no existing legal defenses that justify corporal punishment by parents or others; and providing guidance on appropriate enforcement of these laws.
  • Through policy measures — ensuring comprehensive prevention policies and effective protection systems are implemented at different levels; and promoting positive, nonviolent forms of child-rearing, conflict resolution, and education.
  • Through awareness — ensuring comprehensive awareness raising of the prohibition of corporal punishment, and of children’s rights in general.

Get Involved
This information is available in a variety of media materials from the Council of Europe. While this campaign is directed toward the European Union, this is a movement meant for all societies and is just as relevant for your community whether you live in London, Munich, Paris, Sydney, or Los Angeles. Click here to see all of the campaign materials that are available to print and pass along.

Negative Experiences Early in Life Can Lead to Teen Violence

From Duke University

Sad BoyAdverse experiences early in life can lead to minor childhood behavior problems, which can grow into serious acts of teen violence, according to new research.  This “cascading effect” of repeated negative incidents and behaviors is the focus of an article in the November/December 2008 edition of Child Development.

Using a novel approach that went beyond simply identifying risk factors, a research team led by a Duke University psychologist measured how violent behavior develops across the life span, from early childhood through adolescence.

The researchers tracked children from preschool through adulthood and documented that children who have social and academic problems in elementary school are more likely to have parents who withdraw from them over time. That opens the door for them to make friends with adolescents exhibiting deviant behaviors and, ultimately, leads them to engage in serious and sometimes costly acts of violence.

About the Study

The researchers followed 754 children from 27 schools in four different areas in the United States for 12 years. The data included school records covering kindergarten through eleventh grade and annual reports collected from the children, their parents, peers, and observers.

The article, “Testing an Idealized Dynamic Cascade Model of the Development of Serious Violence in Adolescence,” appears in Vol. 79, Issue 6, of Child Development, a publication of the Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.

The developmental path toward violent outcomes was largely the same for boys and girls, said Kenneth A. Dodge, the lead author of the study and director of the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University.

Child Temperament a Risk Factor

Dodge and his colleagues in the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group also found that the cascade could be traced back to children born with biological risks or born into economically disadvantaged environments, both of which make consistent parenting a challenge.

About the Research Group

The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group is made up of scientists from Duke University, Pennsylvania State University, Tufts University, The University of Alabama, University of South Carolina, and University of Washington.

The Research Group determined biological risk by assessing the temperaments of the children in infancy, based on mothers’ reports; those at risk were irritable, easily startled, and difficult to calm. These children are more likely to exhibit minor social and cognitive problems upon entering school. From there, the behavior problems begin to “cascade,” Dodge said.

Positive Interactions Make a Difference

“The findings indicate that these trajectories are not inevitable, but can be deflected at each subsequent era in development, through interactions with peers, school, and parents along the way,” said Dodge, who is the William McDougall Professor of Public Policy and a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. “Successful early intervention could redirect paths of antisocial development to prevent serious violent behavior in adolescence.”

Fortunately, successful interventions, such as parent training and social cognitive skills training for children, are available, he said.