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Kicking kids is OK for most Jamaicans - study

Published:Wednesday | February 17, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Philip Hamilton, Gleaner Writer

A study to assess Jamaicans' attitudes regarding the use of corporal punishment, as well as alternative forms of discipline, has revealed almost 40 per cent believe the flogging of children should not be scrapped.

The study, which was carried out July last year by Market Research Services Limited on behalf of the Ministry of Education and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), surveyed 1,000 people across the island.

It also showed there was very little difference in the responses from persons in higher and lower socio-economic groups, as the majority agreed beating a child was a necessary part of correcting bad behaviour.

Only 30 per cent of the respondents in the survey supported abandoning beating as a form of corporal punishment.

Forty-three per cent of the respondents, who were shown a definition of corporal punishment, agreed with the explanation that it is the "intentional causing of pain or discomfort and/or use of physical force upon a child in order to stop or change behaviour".

However, 51.8 per cent of those surveyed disagreed that acts such as pinching, hits to the head, biting, 'conking', kicking and thumping a child constituted corporal punishment, compared with 31.2 per cent of those in agreement.

Half admitted to beating

The study also revealed that approximately half of those persons interviewed - 51.1 per cent - admitted beating or using a physical method of punishment on a child.

When asked to comment on whether beating a child constituted an effective form of discipline, 55.6 per cent disagreed, while 24 per cent said it would have no effect on the child's behaviour.

Sixty-four per cent of respondents said they would be encouraged to stop beating or using any physical methods of punishment if the child obeyed them and changed his/her behaviour.

An overwhelming majority of the persons interviewed - 80 per cent - agreed that parents could use other forms of discipline that would work just as effectively, with 14 per cent somewhat agreeing and 1.8 per cent disagreeing.