Psychological Effects Of Corporal Punishment Manuscript3
Psychological Effects of Corporal Punishment 6. Carries a strong potential for escalation. The problem with the use of
corporal punishment is that, if punishments are to maintain their efficacy, the
Violeta Villaroman-Bautista, Ph.D. amount of force required may have to be increased over successive punishments.
Department of Psychology This was observed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which stated that: "The
University of the Philippines only way to maintain the initial effect of spanking is to systematically increase the
intensity with which it is delivered, which can quickly escalate into abuse".
I am Violeta Bautista, a faculty of the Psychology Dept of U.P. I am in the field called Additionally, the Academy noted that: "Parents who spank their children are more
Clinical Psychology. Aside from teaching I do counseling and psychotherapy in the likely to use other unacceptable forms of corporal punishment. In the Philippines,
clinic. I have encountered in my practice the many ways by which the use of that can include pagpapaluhod sa mongo, pagbitin ng patiwarik habang nasa loob ng
corporal punishment has had deleterious effects on the lives of children. Though the sako o pagkukulong sa toilet or madilim na kuwarto.
would-be effects of such punishment are related to a host of other factors in the
family of the children, by and large corporal punishment may be identified as a Escalation can also result from the parents losing control in the heat of their
major factor that contributes to many negative effects on the behavior & frustration and anger. One study found that 40% of 111 mothers interviewed were
personality of children. If I may state a generalization from the many actual cases in worried that they could possibly hurt their children. It has been observed that
my own practice and from the literature in this topic, it is the following- frustrated parents turn to spanking when attempting to discipline their child, and
Corporal punishment is able to bring immediate compliance among then get carried away (given the arguable continuum between spanking and hitting).
children but in the long run, it proves to be ineffective and poses great
risks to the psychological and physical well being of children. This is 7. Trains a child to use violence. Spanking can teach children that it is acceptable
because corporal punishment-- for the strong to use force against the weak. It sends a message to the child that
violence is a viable option for solving problems (Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 1980;
1. Weakens the trust bonds between parents and their children. The children Straus, Sugarman, & Giles-Sims, 1997).
are confused and pained that the ones they love and who profess to love them are
also the ones who bring them pain (ACEI, 2007). 8. Is associated with more behavioral problems. Among toddlers and young
children, there is evidence that frequent spanking is correlated with higher levels of
2. Creates fear in the child. The message that can get to a child from a slap or anti-social behaviors when the children were observed 2-4 years later. These
spanking is that a parent or a trusted adult is prepared to induce pain to get behaviors included higher levels of hitting siblings, hitting other children in school,
obedience. defying parents and ignoring parental rules. It is ironic then that though corporal
punishment gets immediate compliance, in the long run, it actually works against its
3. Engenders feelings of confusion, resentment and anger. Many children who objective (that is obedience).
received corporal punishment grow up to be angry adults. Studies have shown that
the more frequent the spanking the children received the more intense is the anger Reasons for corporal punishment possibly causing increased misbehavior and
that they experience in their adult years. defiance in the long run may include: children imitating the corporally-punishing
behavior of their parents by hitting other people; acting out of resentment
4. Lowers the child’s self esteem. Children tend to perceive corporal stemming from corporal punishment; reduced self-esteem; loss of opportunities to
punishment as rejection by the punisher-usually the parents. The feeling of learn peaceful conflict resolution; punishing the parents for the acts of corporal
rejection together with that of shame which comes from experiencing a humiliating punishment; and assertion of freedom and dignity by refusing to be controlled by
event contribute to the weakening of the child’s sense of self worth (Sternberg et. corporal punishment.
al., 1993, Straus, 1994, Hyman, 1997).
5. Engenders a more external locus of control. An external locus of control is
the person’s sense that he/she is not able to effectively control what is happening in
his/her life, and therefore she or he is under the mercy of external circumstances.
Studies have shown that children who experienced physical punishment have higher
external locus of control, suggesting their need for more confidence and guidance in
dealing with life stressors.
There is also evidence that changes in parental disciplinary practices, specifically young children to bottle up their feelings of fear, anger, and hostility thus making
changing from using corporal punishment to positive parenting, result in changes in them prone to depression and suicide in later years.
the children's aggression (Pitzer, 2002). Non-aggressive children at the start of the
study who were spanked were twice as aggressive by the end of the study. Those Studies have also noted that criminal, anti-social, violent, aggressive behavior
who were aggressive at the start but were not spanked throughout the study were manifest in the lives of adults who in their adolescence have been exposed to
half as aggressive at the end of the study. excessive physical discipline. These findings led many researchers to wonder if the
violence associated with conventional levels of corporal punishment could also
9. Perpetuates the cycle of violence within families. In my practice, whenever I trigger violent or aggressive behavior later in life.
encounter cases of children who were exposed to extreme or frequent physical
discipline, I always ask the parents how they were disciplined by their own parents. 13. Hinders success in life. Adah Maurer & James S. Wallerstein in 1987, studied
More often than not I find out that they too suffered from extreme forms of the childhood history of five groups of people- violent inmates at San Quentin,
corporal punishment. Studies in fact show that the more a child is hit, the more juvenile delinquents, high school drop outs, college students and professionals.
likely it is that the child, when an adult, will hit his or her children, spouse, or Maurer and Wallerstein concluded from this study that the more someone is
friends (Julian & McKenry, 1993; Straus, 1991, 1994; Straus & Gelles, 1990; Straus & successful in life (not being a juvenile delinquent, not dropping out of school etc.)
Kantor, 1992; Widom, 1989; Wolfe, 1987). In fact, in the study of Straus and his the less likely that they were physically punished as a child or exposed to severe
colleagues, parents who were physically punished 30 or more times as adolescents physical punishment. To put it the other way around: the more physical punishment
were three times more likely to abuse their children physically as those who never a child has been exposed to, the more likely he/she will become a failure in life –
received physical punishment. Straus however noted that his models shows that become a high-school dropout, a delinquent and even a criminal."
76% of parents who were hit many times (30 or more) as adolescents, did not in
turn, abuse their children--- indicating that children are resilient and has the ability It is in the light of these findings that I appreciate the value of the Proposed Anti-
to transcend the conditioning effects of life events. Corporal Punishment Bill being introduced to the House by the Honorable Monica
Louise Prieto Teodoro.
10. Adversely affects the child’s cognitive functioning. A landmark study
among 1-4 years old American children showed that the more often a child is As a Filipino, I am thankful that on the whole that Philippine culture is basically
spanked, the lower they score in IQ test four years later. The difference in iQ affirming of the value of the person and this includes a general positive regard for
scores were attributed by the researchers to (1) greater verbal interaction non- children. It is the reality though, whether in the Philippines or elsewhere, that
spanking parents may be having with their children, this resulting in the parenting is not always based on sound assumptions and practice.
development of more neuronal connections which is responsible for higher IQ Such parenting may include using corporal punishment and other ways that
scores among the non-spanked children, and (2) greater emotional interference to humiliate or degrade children ways of parenting. I think the Bill under discussion will
child’s cognitive processing, the interference being brought about by the stress that help toward stopping the practice and may be part of the more general public
comes from experiencing physical punishment (Straus and Paschall, 1998). advocacy for sound parenting in the country.
11. Stunts internalization of moral values and capacity for empathy. Studies As a psychologist, I join ranks with many of my colleagues locally and internationally
show that children who get spanked regularly are more likely to cheat or lie, be who challenge the use of a disciplinary strategy that has been proven to be
disobedient at school, bully others and show less remorse (ACEI, 2007). This ineffective and even poses risks to the well being of the children. This Bill gives
finding is to be expected noting the fact that corporal punishment though initially voice to my advocacy arising from my academic heritage.
able to elicit immediate compliance does nothing to help the child understand and
appreciate the moral reasoning behind the situation. (Cyclone, 2001, Maldonado, As a Christian Filipino psychologist, I share the high regard for humanity and the
2005). duty to protect those vulnerable to suffer. I value children as part of humanity
created in the image of God. I am certain this Bill will be helpful in protecting the
12. Is linked to many adult problems. Corporal punishment studies indicate that inalienable rights of children.
there is a clear tendency for children exposed to physical discipline to develop
anxiety, disorder, depression, alcohol abuse or dependence and externalizing of
problems (Strauss ,1985, Berkowitz, 1993, McMillan,1995). Hyman (19970) based
on his practice as a clinician notes that frequent and harsh spankings can cause