Compelling Research

A review of the evidence on the physical punishment of children Equally Protected? A review of the evidence on the physical punishment of children

Date: November 2015

Author: Dr Anja Heilmann, Prof. Yvonne Kelly, Prof. Richard G Watt

Summary: 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. 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.

Original Link: Equally Protected? A review of the evidence on the physical punishment of children

Mothers self-reported violence toward their children: A multifaceted risk analysis   Risk factors for violent parenting and possible intervention

Date: December 2014

Author: Kirsi Peltonen, Noora Ellonen, Tarja Poso, steven Lucas

Summary: The universal aim of decreasing parental violence against children requires the detection of risk factors associated with violent behavior among parents. Although research has identified a number of such risk factors, these findings are scattered and a comprehensive picture is lacking. In the present study, 20 child— parent- and family related factors have been included in a combined analysis to assess which of these may pose as risk factors for moth-ers’ severe violent behavior toward their children. The study is based on a representative sample of 2,716 Finnish mothers with 0–12-year-old children and was conducted as anonymous survey. Analyses were carried out using logistic regression models. 6% of the mothers had committed severe violent acts, i.e., slapped, hit, punched (with a fist), kicked,bit, hit/try to hit the child with an object or shook (under 2 year old) child at least once during the 12 months preceding the survey. Corporal punishment experienced by the mother as a child (OR 2.45, CI 1.55–3.88) or used by the mother as a method of discipline (OR 11.14,CI 5.95–20.87), strongly increased the likelihood of severe violent acts. Additionally, work-or family related stress (OR 1.83, CI 1.24–2.73) and lack of help in dealing with parent-ing problems (OR 2.55, CI 1.66–3.90) were detected as risk factors for severe violent acts toward one’s own child. The findings suggest that prevention of corporal punishment maybe an important hinder to the transmission of experiences of violence from one generation to another, and that contextual and situational factors may overlap the influence of individual-related risk factors.

Original Link: Mothers’ self-reported violence toward their children: A multifaceted risk analysis

Report on Physical Punishment in the United States  Physical punishment of children: lessons from 20 years of research

Date: 2012

Author: Joan Durrant, PhD and Ron Ensom, MSW RSW

Summary: Over the past two decades, we have seen an international shift in perspectives concerning the physical punishment of children. In 1990, research showing an association between physical punishment and negative developmental outcomes was starting to accumulate, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child had just been adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations; however, only four countries had prohibited physical punishment in all settings.

Report on Physical Punishment in the United States  Economic impact of violence toward children

Date: 2012

Author: Madeleine Gomez, Ph.D. and Earnest Zambrano, MBA

Author: Center for Disease Control: Child abuse costs U.S. $124 billion:$124-billion/

"A Child's Long-Term Development May Be Harmed By Physical Punishment"

Date: 2012

New research report:

Reasons to Avoid Spanking a Child  Research Evidence of the Negative Child Outcomes Linked with Corporal Punishment.

Date: August 2011

Author: Elizabeth Gershoff, Ph.D.

Summary: Powerpoint format presentation of the latest studies of the negative effects of striking children.

Author: In recent years, I have used research to answer three basic questions:

  1. Does corporal punishment "work"?
  2. Do effects of corporal punishment vary by culture?
  3. Is corporal punishment distinct from abuse?

Report on Physical Punishment in the United States  Report on Physical Punishment in the United States

Date: 2008

Author: Elizabeth T. Gershoff

Summary: The model for this review was the Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth, a document in 2004 by the Coalition on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth, a national partnership of Canadian organizations concerned with the well-being of children and their families. The author is grateful to the Coalition and to the authors of the Canadian Joint Statement, Joan Durrant and Ron Ensom, for their generosity in allowing this report to be modeled on their excellent document.

Global progress towards prohibiting all corporal punishment  Global progress towards prohibiting all corporal punishment

Date: August 2010

Author: Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children

Summary: The following table summarizes the legal status of corporal punishment of children – and progress towards achieving prohibition – in all states in all settings, the home, schools, penal systems (as a sentence for crime and as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions) and alternative care settings. Governments are increasingly enacting laws to prohibit this form of violence against children. As at August 2010, 28 states plus the interim government of Southern Sudan have achieved full prohibition, where all corporal punishment of children is unlawful, including by parents within the family home. In at least a further 23, governments have made a commitment to enacting full prohibition and/or draft legislation which would achieve full prohibition is under consideration in parliament.

US Progress Table  State-by-state analysis of the legality of corporal punishment in the US

Date: 2011

Author: Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children

Summary: A state-by-state analysis of the legality of corporal punishment in the US.

Respecting Children  Respecting Children

Date: August, 2006

Author: The United Reformed Church

Summary: Children have a right to feel safe and secure in their upbringing; not only physically safe, but emotionally safe too, and adults have the moral responsibility to nurture children without recourse to actions that in any way diminish the child. This moral responsibility surely has to be shaped by the love of God for each one of us.

a Violent Education  A Violent Education

Date: August, 2008

Author: Human Rights Watch

Summary: Corporal Punishment of Children in US Public Schools

Position Paper on Corporal Punishment in Schools  Corporal Punishment in Schools

Date: 2003

Author: Journal Of Adolescent Health

Summary: The Society for Adolescent Medicine concludes that corporal punishment in schools is an ineffective, dangerous, and unacceptable method of discipline.

US: Notes on School Prohibition  US: Notes on School Prohibition

Date: 2011

Author: Sharon Owen, Ph.D.

Summary: The citations I checked are those given at for states identified as prohibiting in schools. I also checked cross references to other laws within those provisions. I haven’t checked other laws when there are no cross references, but I would’t be surprised if doing so revealed further legal defenses (e.g. in criminal codes).


Our Mission

The MISSION of the Action Team to End Hitting Children is to gather many people to do small jobs for the purpose of diminishing and finally ending the hitting of children. By "htiting" we mean to include beating, spanking, slapping, shaking, popping, and any other form of physical or emotional punishment that demeans the child and creates emotional, mental, and physical harm. Our strategy is to use many people to do small amounts of work that create momentum to make a difference. 

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