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Developments in the field of Child and Youth Care


Spanking should be illegal, report says

Spanking makes children more aggressive and should be made illegal, a newly released report suggests.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal released a report Monday detailing two decades of research pointing to that conclusion. Joan Durrant of the University of Manitoba and Ron Ensom of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, authors of the report, say the federal government should remove Section 43 from the criminal code which allows physical punishment in certain circumstances. This section was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2004.

"No study has ever found physical punishment to have a long-term positive effect," Durrant and Ensom wrote.

The two point to research, including a study designed to reduce difficult behaviour in children, in which researchers found that families that reduced their use of physical punishment saw a decline in aggression and anti-social behaviour in their children.

Images of children's brains gathered in another study suggested that physical punishment may change areas in the brain connected to performance on IQ tests and could increase a child's vulnerability to drug and alcohol dependence.

A 2000 Canadian study found children who were spanked were seven times more likely to be assaulted by their parents.

"The evidence is clear and compelling: physical punishment of children and youth plays no useful role in their upbringing," Durrant and Ensom said in The Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth, which was endorsed by more than 400 organizations.

Andrea Mrozek, manager of research at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, is concerned by Durrant and Ensom's conclusions.

"I'm concerned the studies they examined correlate abuse and spanking and say that those are the same things," she said.

"Those are not the same things. They are distinct."

Heather Yundt
7 February 2012


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