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Shocker, Countries Who Banned Hitting Kids Raise Nicer People!

by | October 30, 2018

There is less fighting among teens in countries where there is a complete ban on all corporal punishment of children, according to a new study. So shocker, these countries who banned hitting kids actually raise nicer people.

Researchers analyzed data across 88 countries, over 400,000 teens in what’s being dubbed the “largest cross-national analysis of youth violence.” The results were published in the journal BMJ. What they found is kind of a no-brainer. “Societies that have these bans in place appear to be safer places for kids to grow up in,” said lead study author Frank Elgar.

The study used data from two ongoing global surveys, the Health Behavior in School-aged Children and the Global School-based Health survey, which interviewed teens between the ages of 13 to 17 who were asked about their participation in physical altercations.

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Of the 88 counties that participated in the study, 30 had full bans on spanking or other forms of corporal punishment (including New Zealand, Iceland, Portugal, Spain and a number of Scandinavian nations), 38 countries had partial bans (including the US, UK and Canada), and 20 had no bans in place (including Israel and Egypt). Corporal punishment was defined as an adult’s use of physical force to “correct or control” a child’s behavior.

The findings report 31 percent less physical fighting in young men and 42 percent less physical fighting in young women in countries who banned hitting kids, compared to countries where laws allow corporal punishment both at school and at home. In countries where there is a partial ban on corporal punishment (such as in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom—where corporal punishment is not banned at home), the level of violence in young men is very similar to that in countries with no bans, while the level of violence in women is lower (at 56 percent).

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Researchers thought that they would find a correlation between the wealth of a country and the amount of teen violence but this wasn’t so. “Bans and levels of youth violence had no relationship to the wealth of a country,” Elgar said. “Some very low-income countries happen to be quite peaceful, while some richer nations, such as the US, UK and Canada, didn’t fare as well.”

Elgar noted, that there may be something about the country’s culture that discourages violence in the first place, and that’s why they implemented a spanking ban.

Globally, close to 300 million children ages two to four receive some type of corporal punishment from their parents or caregivers on a regular basis, according to a 2017 UNICEF report. Studies such as this can provide parents with education on the impacts this type of punishment can have.

It’s only common sense to see that violence begets violence, kids learn from example, so are these countries who banned hitting kids doing something right?

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The United States has a partial ban on spanking, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the use of physical punishment, explaining that it teaches kids aggressive behavior.

Dr. Victor Fornari, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., said, “Children learn from their parents. If parents use force, children learn force. If parents use reasoning and calm, children learn reasoning and calm.”

Fornari, although not involved with the study, suggested that parents remain calm when young children misbehave.

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“Offering a warning is very useful. If the child continues to not listen, a brief timeout may be helpful as long as the child was informed that the timeout would follow the warning,” he said. If a youngster continues to misbehave, he suggests a consequence such as no TV or video games for a day.

Fornari also suggests that parents need to ask for help when they need it. “A tired and frustrated parent is not in a good position to discipline a child,” he said.

What is your opinion on these countries who banned hitting kids? Let us know in the comments below! 

The study was published Oct. 15 in the journal BMJ Open.

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Julie Nealon

Associate Editor, New York USA | Contactable via [email protected]

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