Excerpt from "Banning Corporal Punishment: A Constitutional Analysis."
By Deana A. Pollard, American University Law Review, Volume 52, Number 2, December 2002

America is an extremely violent society relative to other advanced industrialized nations. The government should take action to reduce the rate of societal violence in accordance with scientific research on its origins. Child corporal punishment is associated with elevated levels of societal violence and probably causes aggression and antisocial behavior on the part of the spanked child. As such, the government should ban child corporal punishment as part of a comprehensive effort to reduce societal violence in general.

Banning child corporal punishment would produce additional benefits. Corporal punishment is an unhealthy intrafamilial practice that is a factor in a variety of individual ills, including physical, mental, and emotional disorders. It is also a known precursor to child abuse. Juxtaposed to all of the individual and societal harms associated with child corporal punishment is substantial research -- conducted by both proponents and opponents of corporal punishment -- that child corporal punishment is not effective, or no more effective, than other forms of punishment that do not carry the risks associated with corporal punishment . Therefore, child corporal punishment is unnecessary, of questionable efficacy, and risky.

The research findings on corporal punishment have led to a rapidly growing worldwide trend to ban the child-rearing practice altogether. It is time for America to join this trend and take action to protect children, their parents, and society at large from the harms associated with child corporal punishment.

Readers interested in reading Deana A. Pollard's 46-page "Banning Corporal Punishment: A Constitutional Analysis" in its entirety will find it in The American University Law Review at www.wcl.american.edu/journal/lawrev/52/Pollard.pdf

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