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Corporal punishment has been a controversial topic in America and the whole world. Those supporting it argue that it is an effective punishment method to give well behaved children while its proponents propose that it affects the psychology of children interfering with their development. Oas (2010) review on the current status of corporal punishment indicates that research supports that children need to be disciplined with corporal punishment by parents. However, there remain no guidelines on how to stop psychologists from recommending corporal punishment.

In the early years, 1890-1940, corporal punishment was very important in the education system, (Midddleton, 2010). It was not controversial and it was widely accepted to maintain discipline in schools. The research was conducted through use of questionnaires given to individuals who were at school during that period. It showed that it was the source of tension between teachers and pupils because to the children, corporal punishment was harsh and unjust.

According to the research conducted by Dupper and Digus (2008), corporal punishment is still being used in the 29 states where it is illegal. This has been shown to be due to culture and religion. Schools in states where Evangelical Protestant religion was practiced, corporal punishment was prevalent. Bible quotes are used to support use of this means of physical punishment. It is however the responsibility of social workers to protect children in the United States against corporal punishment both at school and at home through offering education on detrimental effects of corporal punishment.

Clement and Chamberland (2009) investigated the attitude of mothers towards corporal punishment and the blame on child through a telephone survey. The results indicated hat mothers were sensitive to consequences of punishment and the experience of concern when the children turned violent. This was to support the need of prevention programs aimed at reducing stress to parents who witnessed corporal punishment. A similar study was conducted on fathers by Lee, Perron, Taylor and Guterman (2011) on use of corporal punishment. Factors like father-child relation, father stress, alcohol and drug abuse and major depression were linked to the likelihood of spanking their children. Girls were found to be less likely spanked by their fathers than boys. Interaction of parental support and gender to the child receiving corporal punishment was shown to indicate that frequent corporal punishment by the father correlated with child depression even though the mother was supportive of the child while support by the father balanced aggression and depression from mother punishment, (Harper, Brown, Arias & Brody, 2006).

The society is responsible for supporting corporal punishment using their culture as an excuse; (Lansford & Dodge 2008). Frequent use of corporal punishment was associated with aggression in children, interpersonal violence and warfare. These results conceded with adult violence in those areas were prevalent. Investigations by Vaaler, Elison, Horton and Marcum, (2008) on the perspectives of Presbyterian Church clergy on corporal punishment indicates that male clergy support corporal punishment though those who had witnessed one of their members abusing the form of punishment did not recommend it.

Most research indicates of detrimental effects to children who experience corporal punishment. To find the relationship between corporal punishment and the tendency of the child to hit others to resolve conflicts, Simon and Wurtele, (2010) found that children whose parents approved corporal punishment were more likely to hit their peers to resolve interpersonal conflicts. This coincided with the tendency of these children to use this form of discipline on heir children.Despite the calls for abandonment of physical punishment, the public still supports corporal punishment as Robinson, Funk, Beth and Bush (2005) found out. However, information passed on to students about corporal punishment would help towards realization of its ineffectiveness.

Ecological Systems Theory

The theory examines how a child develops in relation to the environment. Research shows that if the parents supports and practice corporal punishment, children are more likely to copy this trend and show violence into their adulthood. In relation to the theory, the microsystem affects the way a child behaves.  The exosystemand the macrosystemwhich includes the society and the church also affect the development of the child because cultural practices and church teachings encourage or discourage use of corporal punishment in homes. The view of corporal punishment in the environment dictates whether the development of the child will be affected by use of corporal punishment.

The research articles utilize the ecological systems theory in the methodology and conclusions. They show the influence the environmental factors like cultural practices and religion on corporal punishment which if practiced affects development of a child. However, most of these studies do not show a link between the environment and child’s development though the link between the environment and corporal punishment exists. This is because most researchers are interested only in the effects that corporal punishment affects the behavior of a child and not the reasons that may be spreading the popularity of corporal punishment in homes and school.


Clément, M. E, Chamberland, C. (2009).the role of parental stress, mother’s childhood abuse

and perceived consequences of violence in predicting attitudes and attribution in favor of corporal punishment Journal of Child & Family Studies, 18(2), 163-171, p, 2 DOI: 10.1007/s10826-008-9216-z


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Middleton, J (2008),The Experience of Corporalpunishment in schools,History of Education,

37(2),253-275, DOI: 10.1080/00467600701607882 1890-1940.


Robinson, D.H., Funk, D. C., Beth, A, Bush, A. M. (2005).Changing beliefs about corporal

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Simons, D. A.andWurtele, S. K.. (2010). Relationships between parents’ use of corporal

punishment and their children’s endorsement of spanking and hitting other children. Child Abuse & Neglect, 34(9, 639-646; DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2010.01.012


Vaaler, M, Ellison, C., Horton, K., Marcum, J. (2008).Spare the rod? ideology, experience, and

attitudes toward child discipline among presbyterian clergy. Pastoral Psychology, 56(5), 533-546; DOI: 10.1007/s11089-008-0129-y


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