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​Corporal Punishment


Corporal punishment is an action intended to cause physical discomfort or pain to correct, teach or deter a child.  It includes actions such as spanking, slapping, shaking, pulling hair or ears, forcing children to hold uncomfortable positions, and putting noxious substances in children’s mouths.  It might or might not injure the child physically.  It almost always hurts the child emotionally.  Its emotional impact can contribute to a wide range of problems.

















Does this mean that everyone who was spanked as a child has problems?  No, of course not.  It means that spanking doesn’t help children learn what we want them to learn.  And it means that every time we spank a child, we raise the risk that the child will develop problems.

Why is this so?  Spanking only addresses the behaviour, not the feelings behind it.  It might stop a child from doing something in the moment, but the child hasn’t learned how to do things differently.  And it can lead to built-up resentment and hostility that the child cannot express for fear of further punishment. 

Today, we have a tremendous amount of knowledge about how children learn and develop.  We know other ways of teaching children that don’t have these risks and harms.

Even ‘everyday spanking’ is consistently associated with:


  • more aggression

  • more fighting

  • more acting-out

  • more mental health problems

  • more negative relationships with parents

  • lower self-esteem

  • lower cognitive ability

  • weaker moral values