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Breakthrough from Scotland - A review of the evidence on the physical punishment of children
“The international evidence could not be any clearer – physical punishment has the potential to damage children and carries the risk of escalation into physical abuse.”
Written by: Dr Anja Heilmann, Prof. Yvonne Kelly, Prof. Richard G Watt
A positive start in life provides the foundations for good health and wellbeing. A supportive, nurturing and loving family environment is particularly important in early childhood to encourage and enable children to develop and reach their full potential. Wider society has a key role in protecting children through the creation of supportive conditions for families to flourish.
Unfortunately in Scotland and across the UK many children do not have the best start in life. For many children, physical punishment is still part of their upbringing. This is despite the fact that physical punishment violates children’s human rights according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This excellent report has conducted a comprehensive review of the evidence on just how prevalent the physical punishment of children is, and what its effects are on the child and family. The evidence presented here is both alarming and compelling.
Despite a steady decline in recent decades, physical punishment remains a common occurrence in many families in the UK. Public attitudes are however changing, with a noticeable shift towards viewing physical punishment as unacceptable in modern society. This review has presented very strong and consistent evidence of the harmful effects of physical punishment on children and their families.