Documentary Footage, More
How do Children Experience Spanking?
What Do Researchers Say About Spanking?
What is the Purpose of Law Reform?
Peter Newell makes a compelling argument that the basic right of the individual to be protected by law from all acts of physical harm should naturally extend to children.
How Do We Help Parents?
Asadah talks about the importance of asking parents about their history of violence so we can better understand why they spank….
What about the Youth Perspective?
Johny O’Donnell, founder of Students Against Violence Everywhere – Breaking the Cycle of Abuse…
Should We Ban Spanking in the US?
Researchers, child psychologists, representatives from Sweden and New Zealand, and child activists in the US talk about the purpose of banning spanking in the home.
Asadah is a mother, teacher, author, and child rights activist. Her book, “Beating Black Kids,” won 1st Place in the International Book Award of the Year, in the Category of African-American Studies. She will be a speaker at the upcoming Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment. http://www.dontbeatblackkids.com/homepage.html
Peter is Coordinator of the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children (www.endcorporalpunishment.org) and Adviser to the European Network of Ombudspeople for Children. He was a member of Professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro’s Editorial Board for the UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence against Children and co-chairs the international NGO Advisory Council for follow-up to the UNSG’s Study. He is co-author of UNICEF’s Handbook on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Peter has worked as a consultant for UNICEF advising on general measures for implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. www.endcorporalpunishment.org/
Ms. Nilsson is a Senior Advisor with Save the Children, Sweden. She has worked extensively in the international efforts to stop violent forms of discipline and promote positive discipline.
Murray Straus, PhD
Dr. Straus is the leading researcher on the effects of Corporal Punishment. He is Professor of Sociology and founder and Co-Director of the Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire (since 1968). Previously taught at the Univ of Minnesota, Cornell, Wisconsin, Washington State, U of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Visiting Professor: U. of Kentucky, U. Bombay (India), U. of York (England), Columbia Univ, U. of Leuven Belgium http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/
Elizabeth Gershoff, PhD
Professor of Human Develoment and Family Sciences, University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Gershoff is a developmental psychologist who studies how parenting generally and discipline in particular affect children’s development. She is interested in how parenting affects children differently within contexts of poverty and low income, neighborhoods, schools, and culture. She is also interested in associations between children’s exposures to various forms of violence (from parents, communities, and terrorism) and their mental health and risk behaviors. http://www.utexas.edu/cola/centers/prc/directory/faculty/ethomp
A Rampant Problem That Affects Most Children
- 88 million Americans experience physical abuse as children
- Spanking can escalate into more severe child abuse
- Most child physical abuse cases begin with physical punishment
In the ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES STUDY (ACEs) conducted by CDC and Kaiser Health Plan with over 17,000 adults, 28% reported being victims of physical abuse in childhood. This extrapolates to nearly 94 million Americans suffering from childhood physical abuse. Washington State ACEs, 29% students were exposed to physical violence and 13% were exposed to physical violence and adult to adult abuse. We know that 67 – 85% of child abuse cases reportedly begin as an attempt to discipline the child using corporal punishment. We also know that research clearly links spanking to increased aggression, behavioral problems, lower IQ, adolescent drug & alcohol abuse, and suicide. Neuroscience suggests that spanking may even interfere with normal development of the child’s brain. These problems extend well into adulthood. Experts in the field of Childhood Abuse and Neglect conclude that “ultimate control of the abuse problem lies in changing our societal attitudes towards and acceptance of aggression as appropriate mechanism for problem solving.” Many leading scholars have concluded that reducing corporal punishment is essential to reducing physical abuse.
Early Traumatic Experiences Impact Health into Adulthood
Research recognizes spanking as hitting on a continuum of violence against children and a precursor to most child physical abuse reports. The ACE Study shows a strong and cumulative link between physical abuse and adult health problems including ischemic heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, skeletal fractures, liver disease, and poor self-rated health. The ACE Study recommends primary prevention of adverse childhood experiences that will “ultimately require societal changes that improve the quality of family environments during childhood.”
The Current Situation: Almost All Toddlers are Spanked in America
- 30% of American parents begin spanking babies less than a year old
- 50% of all toddlers are spanked three or more times a week
- 94% of all toddlers are spanked
Professional Associations discourage spanking. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 19 prohibits spanking. Yet, despite professional warning, 65% Americans still approve of spanking. We know parents are more likely to spank if they…
1. Were physically punished as children themselves,
2. Are socially or economically disadvantaged,
3. Are under 30 years old,
4. Belong to a community that condones spanking, or
5. Have a preschool age child.
Spanking is an international problem. Twenty-nine countries including Germany, Spain and even Tunisia have banned on spanking in the home in conjunction with educational support for parents. Sweden banned spanking in 1979 and preliminary data indicates:
1. Reduction in spanking (only 3% parents under age 30 support spanking)
2. Decrease in adolescent drug and alcohol abuse
3. Reduced adolescent suicide
Documentary Film Can Change Social Acceptance of Spanking
Documentary film has the power to question social norms in an objective, nonjudgmental way. “Food Matters”, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and “Supersize Me,” helped people question their dependency upon processed food. The Oscar winning documentary, “Harlan County USA” helped people understand the mistreatment of coal miners, which in turn helped improve their conditions. “Bowling for Columbine” helped a traumatized public come to grips with a national crisis, by investigating how the violent rampage was imbedded within the cultural environment.
There is considerable research to show that education on spanking changes the way parents view discipline.   Because a change in social acceptance of spanking is necessary to end the practice, a group of passionate filmmakers, researchers and child advocates has assembled to create a documentary that can do just that. Our film will examine the long-term effects of early childhood violence and will portray alternative ways to discipline. We will interview parents, young children, and youth in the juvenile justice system. The documentary will interview professionals who work with children and are involved in current research on child development. Production of the documentary has already begun with interviews from a variety of leaders in this effort:
- Dr. Murray Straus and Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff, top researchers on corporal punishment, explain the broad reaching impact of corporal punishment on a child’s development;
- Asadah Kirkland, an African American parenting educator working in the projects of Brooklyn, shares her perspective as a parent and a parenting educator in working with many different families;
- Mali Nilsson, Chair of the International Alliance Task Group on Corporal/Physical Punishment, Save the Children, Sweden, shares Sweden’s methods for changing public approval of spanking;
- Johny O’Donnell, founder of Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), speaks about violence against children from a teen’s perspective
To broaden the audiences who find that the documentary resonates with them, we will interview a range of individuals that reflect different demographics and perspectives. However, the primary intended audience is parents who are at greatest risk for spanking. We are focusing on parents:
- under age 30,
- who have young children,
- are of low socio-economic status (making it more likely that they will watch a movie than read a child-rearing book),
- who have likely been spanked themselves, and
- who live in communities where spanking is condoned.
Marketing and Distributing to Parents and Professionals
We will market the film to film festivals, local education & outreach, PBS point of view, and Annual Conventions (including Psychiatric, Child Therapy, Children’s Law, Juvenile Justice, and Child Abuse Prevention Conventions). The National Child Protection Training Center, who is sponsoring this documentary, will show the documentary in their formal training program. NCPTC trains over 25,000 Child Protective Services Workers a year nationally. We expect to directly reach 1,000,000 viewers, targeting young parents directly, and also the care givers that support parents including: social workers, pediatricians, child therapists, juvenile justice professionals, and head start educators.
 American Journal of Preventative Medicine, The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, Volume 4, Issue 4, May 1998 http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(98)00017-8/fulltext
 Footnote #1
 The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, and many more.
 ABC Poll, October 2002 Spanking in the Home and In School
 “Report on Physical Punishment in the US: What Research Tells Us About Its Effects on Children,” E. Gershoff, PhD and Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Child Abuse Prevention http://www.phoenixchildrens.com/PDFs/principles_and_practices-of_effective_discipline.pdf
 The New Handbook of Children’s Rights, Comparative Policy and Practice, 2002
Dallas, Texas http://smu.edu/psychology/html/globalSummit.html