Physical punishment of children

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CECW Information Sheet #7E. Ottawa, ON: Child Welfare League of Canada.

Physical punishment is an action intended to cause physical discomfort or pain to put an end to a child’s behaviour. It may take the form of spanking or slapping with a hand, hitting with an implement, requiring a child to remain motionless or hold an uncomfortable position, forcing a child to kneel on hard objects, placing foul tasting substances in a child’s mouth, or other means of “teaching a lesson” through physical force and pain.

Attempts to distinguish physical punishment from physical abuse have not been successful. In fact, the majority of cases of reported and substantiated child physical abuse are situations of physical punishment.

Additional information available for these authors
CECW archives material
Information Sheet #7