Harsh and violent discipline can harm children- Research

Accra Harsh and violent discipline can have harmful effects on child outcomes, a research conducted by Sharon Wolf and Noelle Suntheimer of the Graduate School of Education University of Pennsylvania has said.

The research on the topic: Predictors of Parental Disciplinary Practices and Associations with Child Outcomes among Ghanaian Pre-schoolers examined three forms of disciplinary practices�physical, psychological aggression, and nonviolent�among caregivers of pre-schoolers in Ghana.

The Research shared with the Ghana News Agency said harsh and violent discipline could have harmful effects on child outcomes, including; aggression and behaviour problems

Endorsement of physical discipline, having a younger child, lower caregiver education, younger caregiver age, female caregivers, and having a female child were associated with higher use of physical punishment.

Household size, female caregivers, endorsement of physical discipline, and having a female child were associated with higher use of psychological aggression, the research revealed

The Research also pointed out that higher caregiver education and having no male in the household were positively associated with nonviolent punishment practices

It said understanding how the disciplinary practices children experienced at home affected their development.

Little research to date has considered these issues for pre-school-aged children. As young children transition to formal schooling, they draw on a multitude of skills including; social, emotional, behavioural, and academic competencies. These skills develop rapidly during the developmentally sensitive period of early childhood it said

Mothers have been found to use physical punishment more frequently than fathers, possibly because mothers spend more time with children on average and thus have more opportunities to see and respond to misbehaviour

In recent years, the government had expressed a commitment to legally prohibiting the physical punishment of children across all settings, including; the home in Ghana.

However, as of May 2019, it was still legal to physically discipline children in the home, alternative care settings, day care, and schools

The Ghana News Agency on local rounds to government schools around Madina also found out that most school teachers still used canes and whipping as the main form of punishment for children in school.

Most of the teachers had canes on their desks or beside them in the classrooms, indicating that they could use on the children.

According to the Ghana Statistical Service (2011, most Ghanaian caregivers believed that physical punishment was necessary for proper child rearing

Physical punishment can vary in intensity and administration.

UNICEF guidelines (UNICEF, 2010) consider two primary forms: mild physical punishment and severe physical punishment.

Psychological aggression refers to psychological violence such as shouting, yelling or screaming, and calling the child offensive names (UNICEF, 2010). Psychological and verbal aggression by parents negatively affected children’s development, the research added.

Source: Ghana News Agency