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Child discipline

Child discipline

World Fit for Children goal: Protect children from all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence [...]

Violent methods of child discipline are widespread. In 29 countries and territories surveyed, an average of 86 per cent of children aged 2–14 experienced violent discipline at home; in almost every one of these countries more than half of the children have been violently disciplined and one in five children has experienced severe physical punishment.

Violent discipline is used in all socio-economic settings. In most countries, children from the poorest households are as likely to experience violent punishment as children from the richest households; children living in rural areas are as likely to experience violent punishment as children living in cities.

The proportion of mothers or caregivers who say they believe corporal punishment of children is necessary varies across countries but is consistently lower than the proportion indicating their children have experienced minor physical punishment in the month before the survey – 28 per cent and 62 per cent, respectively. The relationship between such attitudes and behaviours is deeply influenced by the social and cultural environment.

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children (2006) calls for an end to the justification of violence against children, whether accepted as tradition or disguised as discipline, and asks States to prohibit all forms of violent practice, including corporal punishment.

86 PER CENT OF CHILDREN EXPERIENCED VIOLENT METHODS OF DISCIPLINE

Percentage of children aged 2–14 who experienced violent discipline, by method, in 29 countries surveyed (2005–2006)

 

PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT IS WIDESPREAD EVEN WHERE IT IS NOT SOCIALLY APPROVED

Percentage of children aged 2–14 who experienced minor physical punishment and percentage of mothers or caretakers who believed that children need to be physically punished (2005–2006)

Definitions Violent discipline is defi ned as actions taken by a parent or caregiver that are intended to cause a child physical pain or emotional distress as a way to correct behaviour and act as a deterrent. Violent discipline can take two forms: psychological aggression and physical, or corporal, punishment. The former includes shouting, yelling and screaming at the child, and addressing her or him with offensive names. Physical or corporal punishment comprises actions intended to cause the child physical pain or discomfort but not injuries. Minor physical punishment includes shaking the child and slapping or hitting him or her on the hand, arm, leg or bottom. Severe physical punishment includes hitting the child on the face, head or ears, or hitting the child hard or repeatedly. In surveys, mothers and caregivers are asked whether their children experienced any such violent discipline in the household during the past month.


 

Source for figures on this page: UNICEF global databases, 2007, based on MICS, DHS and other national surveys in 29 countries, 2005–2006.