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Child Abuse and Neglect: Spanking does
more harm than good: psychology study

CHICAGO United States (Xinhua) -- Spanking may be increasingly harmful for children on a more global scale than previously known, a University of Michigan (UM) study indicates.

The study used data collected by UNICEF in 62 countries, and demonstrated that caregivers’ reports of spanking were related to lower social development among 215,885 3 to 4-year-old children.

A parent or caregiver was asked in person if the child gets along well with other children; if the child hits, kicks or bites others; and if the child gets distracted easily.

The question about spanking concerned the physical discipline used within the last month with the child or their sibling.

One-third of the respondents indicated they believed physical punishment is necessary to bring up, raise or educate a child properly.

Among the children studied, 43 percent were spanked, or resided in a home where another child was spanked.

A child’s social development suffered in both cases in which he or she was spanked or during times when a sibling had been spanked, the study showed.

"It appears that in this sample ... spanking may do more harm than good," said Garrett Pace, the study’s lead author and a doctoral student of social work and sociology at UM.

Pace also noted that "reductions in corporal punishment might do a great deal to reduce the burden of children’s mental health and improve child development outcomes globally."

More effort to create policies that discourage spanking has occurred globally.

In fact, 54 countries have banned the use of corporal punishment, which can only benefit children’s long term well-being, Pace said.

Spanking is one of the most common forms of child discipline used by parents worldwide.

The study has been released in the new online issue of Child Abuse & Neglect.


Childhood spanking may lead to adult mental health problem: study

CHICAGO United States (Xinhua) -- Children getting spanked may feel depressed, attempt suicide, drink at moderate-to-heavy levels or use illegal drugs when they grow up, a study of the University of Michigan (UM) shows.

The study used data from the CDC-Kaiser ACE study, which sampled more than 8,300 people aged from 19 to 97. Study participants completed self-reports while seeking routine health checks at an outpatient clinic.

They were asked about how often they were spanked in their first 18 years, their household background and if an adult inflicted physical abuse, say push, grab, slap or shove, or emotional abuse, say insult or curse.

Nearly 55 percent of respondents reported being spanked.

Men were more likely to experience childhood spanking than women.

Compared to white respondents, minority respondents other than Asians were more likely to report being spanked.

Those reporting exposure to spanking had increased odds of depression and other mental health problems, the study showed.

Researchers note that as both spanking and physical abuse involve the use of force and infliction of pain, as well as being linked with similar mental health outcomes, it is important to prevent not just child maltreatment, but also harsh parenting before it occurs.

"This can be achieved by promoting evidence-based parenting programs and policies designed to prevent early adversities, and associated risk factors," said Shawna Lee, UM associate professor of social work.

"Prevention should be a critical direction for public health initiatives to take."

The study and its findings have been published in Child Abuse and Neglect, a monthly social science journal covering child protection.

United States professor accused of spanking female student to resign

WASHINGTON United States (Xinhua) -- Mahmoud Hamad, an associate professor on political science at Drake University in the U.S. state of Iowa, will be allowed to resign over accusation of threatening to spank a female student, local media reported Friday.

An internal investigation by the university found Hamad, 42, "physically, sexually and verbally intimidated female students and did exploit the power differential that existed between him and his female students," according to a FOX News report.

"Drake University is committed to the safety and well-being of all students, and especially those who have the courage to come forward with a complaint," Jared Bernstein, director of the university’s public relations, told Fox News in a statement.

Nickey Jafari, 24, a graduate of the university, was the first student to speak out about Hamad’s misconduct.

She wrote a Facebook post last year amid the #MeToo movement, accusing that during a student trip to Egypt in 2011, Hamad, as the group’s leader and instructor, "asked her to sit on his lap" and she did twice.

The professor also reportedly asked Jafari to call him "Dad" and threatened to "spank" her if she did not receive all A’s.

Investigators found Jafari’s claims "credible" and found the professor "violated university policies through unwelcome advances and unwelcome verbal and physical conduct and intimidation aimed at female students because of their sex."

Hamad’s resignation will be effective June 1.

He is now placed on a leave of absence and "has no teaching or academic responsibilities" at the college.

The university did not refer the case to the Des Moines Police Department.

Majority of French says no to "spanking law"

PARIS France (Xinhua) -- A minority of French, or about 30 percent, supported banning the corporal punishment of children via legislation, according to the results of a latest survey.

Only 27 percent of men and 33 percent of women showed support for banning spanking or slapping children in France, according to a survey conducted by Le Figaro, the result of which was released on Friday.

The survey polled 1,050 French adults.

On March 4, the Council of Europe, an international organization that defends human rights in Europe, ruled that France is in violation of European rules regarding the use of corporal punishment for children.

The council found France not in compliance with the Revised European Social Charter, an agreement signed by 43 states in Europe, on the grounds that "smacking" as punishment is not "prohibited in a sufficiently clear, binding and precise manner under French law or case-law."

The council made the ruling about two years after the British charity Approach, a child protection organization, lodged a complaint accusing France of violating the European Social Charter.

The complaint revived a debate over corporal punishment in France, where smacking or spanking is nothing illegal except in school or in prison, but the right of parents to correct their children’s behavior.

Public opinion has been divided over the necessity to ban violence against children through legislation, with the majority of French adults fail to agree with the ruling of the Council of Europe, several media reports have revealed.

Laurence Rossignol, France’s Secretary of State for the family, said in an interview earlier that she does not think legislation on banning corporal punishment of children is necessary.

Russia-Finland spat over children’s rights deepens

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Moscow should undertake tough measures against Finland to change Helsinki’s approach to the rights of Russian families there, the Russian children’s rights commissioner said Tuesday.

"Finland’s position toward Russian mothers would not change unless the tough economic, political and judicial measures are undertaken," Pavel Astakhov wrote in a special report sent to President Vladimir Putin.

Astakhov, who was attending the 6th Congress of Children’s Rights Commissioners in Kazan, called to "stop exporting" Russian children abroad.

Finnish social services last week removed four children, including a week-old newborn, from their Russian parents and has since been denying the parents and diplomats access to the youngsters, Russian media reported.

Finnish officials said the removal was undertaken to protect the children from alleged abuse after a 6-year-old girl complained in September that her father has spanked her.

On Monday, Astakhov described the Finnish approach to Russian citizens "humiliating" and proposed to declare Finland "a zone dangerous for Russian families with children."

Also Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused Helsinki of "provocative non-constructive behavior" following the refusal of Finnish officials to meet with Russian diplomats over the fate of the four Russian children.

"We do not see the Finnish authorities’ readiness for a dialogue to secure the rights of children in the mixed or Russian-speaking families," the ministry said in a statement, adding that removing the children from their Russian parents has become systematical in Finland.

Brazilians oppose bill forbidding spanking of children

RIO DE JANEIRO Brazil (Xinhua) -- The majority of Brazilians oppose a recent bill that forbids corporal punishments of children, according to a survey published on Monday.

The bill, proposed by the Brazilian government two weeks ago, prohibits all sorts of corporal punishments and other "cruel and degrading treatment" of children.

It is now awaiting a vote in the Brazilian Congress.

Among 10,905 respondents, 54 percent are against the new bill, while 36 percent in favor, and the remaining 10 percent undecided, according to the Datafolha survey published by Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo.

The survey has a margin or error of 3 percentage points.

The survey, conducted between July 20 and 22, also shows that Brazilian women use physical punishments more often than men.

A total of 69 percent of mother respondents said they have spanked their kids at least once, compared to 44 percent of fathers.

Some 72 percent of the respondents (74 percent of men and 69 percent of women) said they have suffered from some kind of corporeal punishments in their childhood, and a total of 16 percent were subjected to frequent spanking.

Teachers’ authority becomes focus of debate in face of less obedient students

BEIJING China (Xinhua) -- Confucius, one of China’s greatest educators, who lived about 2,500 years ago, might miss the good old days if he was teaching in today’s schools.

He would be puzzled by the regulation issued by China’s Ministry of Education late last month, which authorized class teachers to criticize students for misbehavior.

"Isn’t it something taken for granted?" asked a netizen in a post on China’s popular virtual community on Wednesday.

Wang Dinghua, deputy director of the ministry’s basic education department, told Xinhua the new regulation aimed to firmly support teachers in managing increasingly rebellious students.

Most discussions about the regulation on the Internet focused on whether teachers are losing once-unshakable authority.

China has a time-honored tradition of respect for teachers.

Students used to be perfectly obedient in the classroom.

For example, in a tale of the Song Dynasty (960-1276) 40-year-old Yang Shi, during a visit to his master Cheng Yi, waited outside in the heavy snow, unwilling to wake his master up from an afternoon nap.

It’s a different picture now.

Qiao Liang, a high school class teacher at Tianjin’s famed Yaohua Secondary School, said students were much less respectful.

"Once a student slammed the door on me and walked away after I pointed out his misbehavior," said the 26-year-old man.

But in the prestigious school the students’ behavior was comparatively good , he said.

"I heard students in some schools played poker in class, or threatened teachers when being criticized," he said.

Li Fengping, who has been a teacher for 20 years, said students were more rebellious than ever.

"Most students have huge egos now. Even if they show respect, they don’t really listen to your words," she said.

In such circumstances, more and more teachers ignored behavior and attitude problems and were inclined to focus on teaching, which is worrying education experts.

Xu Zhiyong, a Beijing Normal University expert specializing in education policy, said:

"To point out students’ wrongdoing and help them correct it is an essential part of education."

Parents agree. Guo Liyuan, mother of a 10-year-old boy, said so long as teachers mean no harm, they had the right to criticize students.

"If a teacher backs away from correcting students’ mistakes, he’s not doing his job," she said.

"There is nothing new in the new regulation.

"The Education Law, which took effect in 1995, said the same thing," said Xu.

"The ministry is merely reasserting teachers’ rights and obligations."

Not only the students but also parents have doubts about teachers.

Jie Yahua, the mother of a 14-year-old girl, said:

"We expect teachers to correct our kids, but the real problem is how."

Her daughter was stalked by a boy from her class.

The mother kept it secret from her daughter’s class teacher after she found out about it.

"I was afraid the teacher would not be able to handle it well.

"If so, it might have a negative impact on my daughter and the boy," she said.

Parents now are paying as much attention to teachers’ skills as they do to their own parenting.

Among the country’s 10 million teachers, not every one lives up to the expectations of parents.

"As long as teachers use correct methods, we are more than happy to cooperate," Guo Liyuan said.

But her boy was once spanked by a teacher.

Teachers are aware of current changes.

"We are very careful about the words we use for fear of harming a student’s pride.

"We also tailor the necessary punishment according to different students," said Qiao Liang.

"The ministry rule does not mean teachers have lost their authority," Xu Zhiyong said.

"It just shows our society has progressed to regulate teachers by laws and rules.

"They can not do whatever they like to students.

"The previous teacher-centered education has shifted to a student-oriented mode."

"Now, we respect and pay greater attention to the personality of students.

"But this can not go to extremes in indulging their wrongdoings."


Spanking and Child Development: We Know Enough Now
To Stop Hitting Our Children - Elizabeth T. Gershoff

More Harm Than Good: A Summary of Scientific Research on the
Intended and Unintended Effects of Corporal Punishment on Children

Child abuse or child maltreatment is physical, sexual, or psychological maltreatment
or neglect of a child or children, especially by a parent or other caregiver



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