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The Effects of Physical Punishment on Development

    Discuss the effect of Physical punishment on Development……….


    An article published today in Medical News Today asserts that a child’s long term development may be harmed by physical punishment in the long run. Though most countries have abolished corporal punishment for errant children especially in the school going age group, there are a few places where physical punishment is still rampant. Cognitive and social developments seem to be the two major areas affected by physical punishment.

    How this article relates to middle childhood

    Middle childhood is an important age in the life of a child. It is a stage when a significant growth occurs in the body and mind of a child, especially because school changes children in many ways. Though some scientists refer to middle childhood as the latent phase because sexual drive lies dormant, a lot of interesting things happen at this time. It is during this time that children acquire an identity and learn new and complex skills. They also make new friends outside the first degree of consanguinity. It is without a doubt an important part of life which forms the foundation for future stages in terms of discipline, eating habits and decision making.

    Physical punishment is one of the methods that was traditionally used to correct those who deviated from the advocated path. Truancy is a common theme in middle childhood, as evidenced by the many cases of school refusal, disobedience to parents and fights in school. Parents and teachers of aberrant children are often tempted to take a cane in a bid to correct the young ones. After all, doesn’t the holy book preach that if you spare the rod you will spoil the child? Doing so could have a serious effect on the health of the child, but it might not be immediately apparent. It is only later that the manifestations become crystal clear. It is only then that parents start to question themselves consciously. Mental health issues that are associated with physical punishment include anxiety and depression.

    The significant of this issue

    In my opinion this is a very weighty issue. What we will be tomorrow is determined by what happened to us yesterday and by what will happen to us today and tomorrow. According to this article, 500 parents who were trained to reduce physical punishment had the behavior of their children modified, with better outcomes. Almost all parents can confess that they have at least once used physical punishment on a child of 6 to 12 years. Though trends are changing, it is no secret that many parents use physical punishment as their preferred method of instilling discipline. The implications of physical punishment are immense. If what is claimed in this article is true then we have the power to change the future of children for the better. According to Medical News Today (2012), we can significantly reduce the number of social deviants and aggressive children in our society. (para. 2) We now have the ability to reduce the number of antisocial beings living among us. We all desire a better future, a future without worries caused by aggressive and unruly children.

    The article also claims that physical punishment is associated with an array of mental health problems including anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug use.  These conditions significantly affect the quality of life. Living with a person affected by any of these conditions is a life changing event. It is often a challenging task. This article gives hope that some of these cases can be prevented by avoiding physical punishment. Using evidenced based approaches, the physicians can give advice to parents on which non physical punishment approaches to use to ensure that their children are healthy, now and in the future.

    Domains of development affected by the issue

    This issue raises concerns that physical abuse affects cognitive development in a huge way. According to Durrant (2012), physical punishment has been shown, through research, to have a direct effect on how behavior is expressed. Neuroimaging studies done on the brain suggests that physical punishment alters areas in the brain associated with performance in intelligence quotient (IQ) tests.

    The other domain touched by this issue is the social and emotional development. Changes in the brain make the affected person more predisposed to alcohol and drug dependence. This in turn predisposes them to social problems. It would not be surprising for them to be at loggerheads with the law enforcers. Anxiety, depression and aggression are highlighted in this news article as direct consequences of physical punishment. Depressed people always have a depressed mood and a flat affect. Childhood depression is catastrophic; often turning out to be a white elephant. Anxiety affects social development. Aggressive people tend to be rude and unmanageable, which often results in conflicts which affect emotional development. Personality disorders like antisocial personality disorder are likely to evolve from the emotional tantrums associated with corporal punishment.

    Language, fine motor and gross development domains are not directly affected. If they are affected, it is in ways that are considered inconsequential.



    Durrant J. Ensom R.(2012, February) Physical Punishment of Children: Lessons from 20 years of  Research. Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

    Medical News Today. (2012). A Child’s Long-Term Development May Be Harmed By Physical    Punishment. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from

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