Most of the world's societies are violent in the sense that they have high rates of physical assault, homicide, and war. The United States (US) is the most violent of the advanced industrial societies. The current US homicide rate of 8.5 per 100 000 is three times the Canadian rate of 2.3 per 100 000, and about eight times the rate of Western European countries. Nevertheless, many societies are even more violent. The Mexican homicide rate of 19.4 is more than double that of the US, and the rate for the cities of Columbia (110.4 per 100 000) is more than ten times higher.
Most of the world's societies also bring up children violently through the use of corporal punishment. Perhaps the correspondence between the preponderance of violence and that of corporal punishment is just a coincidence. Obviously, corporal punishment and assaults and murders differ in severity, and also in the cultural definition that makes one legitimate and the other criminal. However, there is also a correspondence between the behavior involved in corporal punishment and the behavior involved in criminal assaults and homicides that is seldom perceived. Everyone understands that corporal punishment is carried out to correct or control misbehavior. What is not understood is that almost all assaults by adults and about two thirds of homicides are also carried out to correct what the offender perceives as misbehavior. Typical examples include a confrontation between two men over a loan of $50 that is to be paid back in 1 week.
- Copyright © 1996 by the American Academy of Pediatrics