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Banning corporal punishment linked to less youth violence

A recent study published in BMJ Open shows that in countries where there is a complete ban on all corporal punishment of children, there are lower levels of fighting among young people. 

The analysis, led by Frank Elgar (HBSC Canada, University of McGill) combined data from the HBSC study with the Global School-based Health Survey (GSHS), covering more than 403,000 adolescents in 88 countries.

It revealed that there was 31% less physical fighting in young men and 42% less physical fighting in young women in countries where corporal punishment was banned in all settings, compared with those where corporal punishment was permitted both at school and at home. 

In countries where there was a partial ban on corporal punishment (such as in Canada, USA and the UK where corporal punishment not banned at home), the level of violence in young men was similar to that in countries with no bans, though the level of violence in women was lower.

  • Frequent fighting was generally more common in young men (close to 10%) than in young women (about 3%)

  • Fighting varied widely from one country to the next ranging from under 1% in Costa Rican young women to close to 35% in Samoan young men

  • The researchers found that the associations between corporal punishment and youth violence remained, even after potential confounders were taken into account such as per capita income, murder rates and parent education programmes to prevent child maltreatment.

  • Thirty countries had implemented a full ban on corporal punishment at school and at home, 38 had bans only for schools, and 20 had no bans in place.

While the study focused on government policies, not individual parents’ approaches to discipline, the results suggest that discouraging corporal punishment at a national level may help shape teens’ attitudes about violence and their propensity to get into physical fights.

These results add to evidence suggesting that children’s exposure to violence at home and at school can have a lasting impact on their behaviour later in life.

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item 5123
[15-10-2018 to 24-05-2020]


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