Hitting children has been totally discredited as a legitimate means of disciplining children, and Pope Francis should know that.
“His statement last week that ‘It’s okay to spank your children to discipline them – as long as their dignity is maintained’ is totally out of tune with the times, and we were gratified that his own sex abuse commission called him out on it,” said Kathy Lynn.
“It is absolutely outrageous that the spiritual leader of 1.2 million Catholics world-wide would advocate violence against another human being. That is a totally inappropriate message for him to deliver to his flock.”
Kathy Lynn, a life-long advocate for ending physical punishment for children, is the chair of the steering committee for Corinne’s Quest which is a campaign under First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, a non-partisan coalition of organizations which advocates for improved policies and resources for children and youth.
Our initial response through social media was that it’s disappointing that a person of such influence would be so unaware of the research that absolutely proves hitting children always carries a risk factor. To date, 44 countries have prohibited physical punishment of children because the risks include higher rates of aggression, delinquency, mental health problems and lowered self-esteem. Canada is not on that list of countries.
The Pope should look to the existing research before speaking on the topic. Thankfully, his sex abuse commission criticized his comments saying “there is no place for physical discipline and that the panel would make recommendations to him about protecting kids from corporal punishment.”
One of our concerns is that people will heed the first incorrect statement and miss the second refuting the value of physical punishment of children.
As the Spiritual leader for one seventh of the world population, the Pope has a responsibility to check his facts and talk to his advisors before he advises parents on an important topic such as physical punishment of children.