Professor Hyman has reviewed for us all the research that has been done on the effects of corporal punishment in the schools.1 It is actually a meager record because of the reasons he has mentioned, many of them ethical, demographic, and religious. Whatever research has been published on the effects of corporal punishment, however, would indicate that although the practice is widespread in the United States, corporal punishment is not an effective means of discipline and has many harmful effects on the recipient of the punishment, both physical and psychological. Certainly there are enough data, which Dr Hyman has assembled over 20 years, to warrant the measures he advocates to get the message out to the public as well as to concerned professionals, and to formulate public policy aimed at eliminating corporal punishment in our schools as well as all other settings, including the home.
And to those cynics who are skeptical about what influence psychological research findings can have on public policy, my own personal experience over 40 years with research on the effects of viewing television violence on aggressive behavior of children indicates that psychological and sociological research findings can have a profound influence. But changing behavior takes persistence and time. There are too many vested interests who favor the status quo and are threatened by change. There are also many professionals who very often have not done any research in the area, but consider themselves authorities, as well as lay persons who are convinced that the old way of doing things is the only right way.
- Copyright © 1996 by the American Academy of Pediatrics