National Child Protection Week 2022

Parenting is stressful and raising children can be challenging. Sometimes parents can feel overwhelmed by their children’s behaviour.

It’s not so easy to respond calmly to children’s behaviour especially when they misbehave or are not in control of their emotions. This is food for thought considering the theme for National Child Protection Week (4-10 September): Every child, in every community, needs a fair go.

Giving children a fair go extends to teaching them appropriate behaviour even when feelings are running hot. In some families, smacking is used to discipline children.

New research from the Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS) has found that corporal punishment has negative effects on children’s mental health.

According to Professor Daryl Higgins, Director of Institute of Child Protection Studies at ACU and a Chief Investigator of the study: “There is a very real connection between corporal punishment and current and lifelong experience of mental ill health.”

This is partly because corporal punishment occurs alongside experiences of child abuse and neglect. Data from 3,500 participants aged 16-24 who participated in the study show that 61 per cent had experienced corporal punishment four or more times, and that participants subjected to such punishment at home were nearly twice as likely to develop anxiety and depression.

The good news is that we are noticing a cultural shift that is not as accepting of smacking and hitting children – fewer people believe in the need for corporal punishment to properly raise children. The ACMS study found that only 14.8 per cent of young people viewed physical discipline as necessary compared with 37.9 per cent of people aged 65 and older.

The Institute of Child Protection Studies is part of a campaign to end physical punishment in Australia. The working group has attracted a highly engaged multidisciplinary working group of researchers and leaders.

The campaign has three key aims:

  1. Change the law to give children the same protections as adults from violence.
  2. Promote knowledge of the harms of corporal punishment and promote alternatives.
  3. Offer evidence-based parenting programs and supports at a population level.

You are welcome to join this campaign – read more here.

Attend a webinar to learn more

Attend a free webinar on 8 September to hear more about the ACMS findings, presented by Professor Daryl Higgins and other investigators from the ACMS study - register here.

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