I came across this article in the San Francisco Chronicle written by Joel Brinkley, professor of journalism at Stanford University and former Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for the New York Times. In it, he delineates the development of pedophilia and its prevalence in Afghanistan. To gain a deeper understanding of how culture shapes the way people treat children, please read this article at the following link:
Three particularly important studies have been released out of the University of North Carolina’s Injury Prevention Research Center.
The first, authored by Desmond Runyan, MD, DrPH, professor of social medicine at UNC, was published in the journal Pediatrics. Dr. Runyan’s study conducted surveys in Egypt, India, Chile, the Philippines, Brazil and the U.S. to track international variations in corporal punishment.
One of the study’s findings was that rates of child abuse reported in surveys were dramatically higher than official rates of abuse in all communities studied. The study also found, among other things, that mothers with less education had higher rates of corporal punishment and that rates of corporal punishment vary widely among different communities in the same country.
Two studies were led by Adam J. Zolotor, MD, MPH, assistant professor of family medicine in the UNC School of Medicine.
The first of those two tracked corporal punishment and physical abuse trends in American children aged 3 to 11 as reported in four separate surveys conducted from 1975 till 2002.
The study found that while 18 percent fewer children were hit in 2002 than 1975, the rates of physical punishment were still extremely high. Even in 2002 (after the decline), 79 percent of preschool children were spanked, and half of all preschool children were spanked with a paddle or other implement.
The second of Zolotor’s studies reviewed bans on corporal punishment by various nations and their impact. The study found that although 24 nations have banned corporal punishment of children, that is only 12 percent of the world’s countries. It also found that while all nations other than the United States and Somalia have signed onto the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (which ironically the United States helped draft), only a small number of those 193 member countries have outright banned corporal punishment. (See text of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.)
In the United States, amazingly, a group of 30 senators (!) have signed onto a bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and currently pending in the Senate, opposing the signing of the UN Convention. Senator DeMint has labeled this a “Parents’ Rights” bill. In my experience, that term is regularly used in the United States to battle any implications that the hitting of one’s children might be limited.
In light of all the recent evidence of detriment caused by corporal punishment of children, including mental and physical health disorders, decreased IQ, aggression issues, problems with stress regulation, increase in disease risk for life, among numerous other, I ask – why would Americans fight so hard for this right?
Consider UNC’s Webcare Blog Entry, To Spank or Not to Spank . . ., Aug. 9, 2010. See also informative article in Science Daily, Corporal Punishment of Children Remains Common Worldwide, Studies Find, Aug. 9, 2010.
A new study out of the University of Toronto published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect has found a strong connection between childhood physical abuse and higher incidence of heart disease.
The study found this connection despite controlling for multiple other risk factors for heart disease including smoking, obesity, physical activity level, and other adverse childhood experiences.
Those who reported being physically abused as children had a 45 percent higher incidence of heart disease than those who reported a lack of such abuse!
The study was based in a 2005 community survey of 13,000 respondents in two Canadian provinces.
The coauthors of this study, including John Frank, director of Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy, confirm the significance of this link and indicate that its implications include that whose who have been abused need to be particularly aggressive in managing their cardiovascular risk factors. They also acknowledge that this study does not explain exactly how this link operates.
I believe it further supports the fact that we need to direct more resources and efforts to child abuse prevention.
See the following article in Science Daily: