Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Canadians against spanking

The Canadian CBC News reports:
The Criminal Code's justification for physical punishment of children such as spanking should be removed, Canadian researchers say.

Monday's issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal includes a paper reviewing how the understanding of the effects of physical punishment of children has shifted dramatically in 20 years.

Children who have experienced physical punishment tend to be more aggressive toward parents, siblings, peers and, later, spouses, and are more likely to develop antisocial behaviour, said Joan Durrant, of the department of family social sciences at the University of Manitoba and Ron Ensom of Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.
These "researchers" are not scientists or even physicians or pediatricians. They are anti-spanking zealots. They did not do any research; they just gave opinions based on the research of others. There article is here, but behind a paywall and no free copy is available.

I always think that it is strange when someone writes an article with the ostensible purpose of changing public behavior based on informing the public of the latest scientific research, but then refuse to make the article available to the public.

It doesn't matter. I have seen some of the research studies. There is indeed a correlation between antisocial behavior and spanking. However, there is no agreement on whether the bad behavior causes the spanking or the spanking causes the bad behavior.

The authors want to make spanking a crime:
"Physicians can urge the federal government to remove Section 43 from the Criminal Code, which provides legal justification for the use of physical punishment, thereby undermining public health initiatives," the authors concluded.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2004 that parents have the right to spank their children. But the country's top court also set out "reasonable limits."

Those limits include:

* Spanking could be used against children between the ages of two and 12 years old.
* Children could not be disciplined with an object.
* Hits to the head would be unacceptable.
* Spanking remains legally contentious in Canada.

The authors said that effective discipline depends on "clear and age-appropriate expectations, effectively communicated within a trusting relationship and a safe environment."

More than 400 organizations in Canada have endorsed the Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth, which encourages positive approaches to discipline and states that physical punishment of children and youth plays "no useful role in their upbringing and poses only risks to their development."
I don't know how they got 400 Canadian organizations to sign up for this, because there is no study showing that any other method of discipline works better than spanking.

Even if you don't believe in spanking, you should be against making spanking a crime. If that happens, the law will be used to undermine parental autonomy, and lead to CPS agents telling you how to rear your kids.

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