Corporal Punishment

  • Date / 2008
  • Location Ratified / Washington DC, United States of America
  • Ratifying Body / General Assembly
  • Status / Pending-review

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) supports worldwide efforts to abolish the use of corporal punishment for the discipline of children.

Corporal punishment is defined as “the use of physical force with the intention of causing bodily pain or discomfort so as to change the subject’s behaviour or to punish them.”

Corporal punishment teaches children that violence is an acceptable means to make others do something, thereby perpetuating violent behaviour from generation to generation.

A growing body of research strongly indicates that corporal punishment is ineffective as a disciplinary measure and has strong associations with multiple undesirable outcomes, including an increased risk of depression, aggression, antisocial behaviour, and the continued use of violence in subsequent generations.

Nonviolent disciplinary techniques have been shown to be as effective as, or more effective than, corporal punishment. As humanism teaches the preference for nonviolent means whenever possible, IHEU supports efforts to educate parents and teachers regarding these disciplinary alternatives.

In response to growing evidence against corporal punishment, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNESCO, American Academy of Pediatrics (USA), Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (UK), and many other national and international organisations have condemned the practice. Twenty-five countries to date have declared corporal punishment illegal, and bans are under consideration by several others. Most national statutes already prohibit violence against adults, including family members. A corporal punishment ban seeks to extend the same protection to children.

The IHEU calls on all Member Organisations and Individual Members to promote opposition to corporal punishment at the national and international level by means of publicity, discussions, and education, with the aim to secure the abolition of the practice.

IHEU General Assembly, Washington DC, 8 June 2008

Suggested academic reference

'Corporal Punishment', Humanists International, General Assembly, Washington DC, United States of America, 2008

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