Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism Bergen

Acceptance of Corporal Punishment

WORKING PAPER: Analysis by Hasan M. Baniamin examines the dynamics of acceptance of parental corporal punishment around the world.

Despite empirical evidence for the negative effects of corporal punishment on children, as well as continuous efforts to prevent it by international organizations, there is still widespread use of corporal punishment (CP) on children around the world. Data from UNICEF (2017) show that worldwide, around 300 million children aged two to four years regularly experience violent discipline from their caregivers.

As of August 27th 2019, 56 countries have banned corporal punishment completely. This means that in most countries, it is still not illegal to use corporal punishment on children. The countries where CP is not illegal include not only several developing countries but also developed countries such as the United States and Australia.

Data from population survey

A new analysis by researcher Hasan Muhammad Baniamin uses data from the World Values Survey to identify people’s degree of acceptance of corporal punishment, and examines the nature of associations of different factors with such acceptance.

The different factors in the analysis are emancipative values, masculinity, religiousness, dissatisfaction with life, dissatisfaction with household financial circumstances and state of health. The analysis also include various socio-demographic variables, such as age, education, partnership status, gender, social class and number of children.

Interesting findings

The study finds that the presence of emancipative values and non-masculine values reduces support for parental corporal punishment.  Moreover, this research finds that life conditions such as dissatisfaction with life may increase support for parental CP.

From the individual-level data, the study finds a possible association between banning CP and reduced acceptance of parental CP, but the country-level data does not indicate any clear pattern. There are countries where CP is banned, but support for CP remains high (such as Brazil and Tunisia) compared with other countries. In the three countries with the lowest support for CP (Chile, Japan and South Korea), CP is not banned.

A variety of socio-demographic variables seem to affect acceptance of CP. People who place themselves in the lower strata of society, have more children or do not have partners endorse parental CP to a greater degree. The study finds that educated people tend to support parental CP less. The study findings also indicate that men tend to support CP more than women.

The author suggest that the analysis may help to expand our knowledge on the dynamics of CP, and guide us to develop more effective policies to address the issue.

Full paper available from the link below:


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