Corporal Punishment

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." - Albert Einstein


  • Spanking
  • Slapping
  • Smacking
  • Pulling ears
  • Pinching
  • Shaking
  • Hitting with rulers, belts, wooden spoons, extension cords, slippers, hairbrushes, pins, sticks, whips, rubber hoses, flyswatters, wire hangers, stones, bats, canes, or paddles
  • Forcing a child to stand for a long time
  • Forcing a child to stay in an uncomfortable position
  • Forcing a child to stand motionless
  • Forcing a child to kneel on rice, corn, floor grates, pencils or stones
  • Forcing a child to retain body wastes
  • Forcing a child to perform strenuous exersize
  • Forcing a child to ingest soap, hot sauce, or lemon juice
All of these are examples of corporal punishment.
All corporal punishment is child abuse, and child abuse teaches students nothing. 19 states in the U.S. still allow corporal punishment in their schools, and this must stop now.

“Bullying is enough of a problem among students; the teachers shouldn’t be doing it, too. There’s nothing positive or productive about corporal punishment and it should be discouraged everywhere.” Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)

Anytime a young person is treated this way they are being abused. These forms of abuse are the cruelest, most unjust, and most ineffective treatment young people can receive. While including both, corporal punishment goes beyond adultism, beyond adultcentrism, and straight to child abuse.
The most basic right of any person today is the right to live in peace.
While that may sound simplistic or naive, violence is a daily reality for almost every young person in the world today. Physical violence—war, family abuse, bullying, and gang violence; mental abuse—parental abuse, teacher abuse, or verbal put-downs— and child neglect surround young people. These are all forms of violence. The institutions that are purportedly supposed to support our children and youth, places like schools, hospitals, and governments, abuse young people. In their homes young people face violence through popular media, like television shows, movies, pop music, and video games. And violence surrounds young people in many ways that we don’t see, seeping into everyone’s hearts and minds without us being aware of it: another bombing overseas, another vicious attack on public funding, another slander against youth in the news.
This abuse adds up. According to a United Nations study,

“Corporal punishment of adults is prohibited in well over half the world’s countries, yet only 15 of the 190-plus nations have prohibited all corporal punishment of children, including in the family.”

It’s a statistic like this that leaves little wonder in my mind about why young people appear “apathetic” and “disenchanted” with a world so intent on numbing them to pain, hatred, cynicism and violence.
Luckily, our North American eyes are beginning to fully comprehend the imperative any ethical person faces when dealing with the situation of young people and violence today. We are beginning to stand with young people to change the situations that they face, and the situations our world faces. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) boldly declares that,

“Young people must be meaningfully involved in promoting and strategizing action on violence against children… Children… need to be well informed about their rights, and fully involved in the life of the [community and] school…”

This call situates corporal punishment as a fully-authorized premise for social action in 198 countries around the world—minus the US and Somalia, who are the only non-signatory countries. Canada and Mexico have signed on. There is no other convention, consensus, or constitution in the world that is more widely accepted than the CRC. So the vast majority of global governments agree that corporal punishment is a significant premise for social change, and we agree that young people should help lead anti-abuse efforts.
I believe that corporal punishment is the root of all discrimination in society. Premised on the hatred of young people, on adultism, on the self- and cultural repression of childhood, corporal punishment is made worse through dozens of other factors, including socio-economic class, gender, race, ethnicity, and more… Corporal punishment is at the heart of all this.

Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act

In 2010, Representative Carolyn McCarthy, a Democrat from New York, introduced a bill called “Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act” in the US House of Representatives. The bill would impose a ban on all public and private schools with students that receive federal services. Learn more about the bill, and support it. I do.
Stop beating kids.

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Youth Equity

Freechild Project youth in New Hampshire

When young people are completely equitable with adults, they experience a 40/60 split, or 20/80 split, or any other split of rights and responsibilities when it’s deemed appropriate by young people and adults, and not either group alone.

Youth equity allows everyone involved- young people and adults- to be recognized for their impact in the activity, program, organization or movement. Each group also has ownership of all the outcomes, including specific topic areas, youth development goals, and outcomes on communities. Youth equity requires conscious commitment by all participants to overcoming the barriers involved.

Allowing adults and young people to have healthy, whole relationships with each other, youth equity moves everyone forward together through action. These relationships can ultimately lead to creating structures that support differences between and among young people and adults by establishing safe, supportive environments with equity at the center of all activities. In turn, this may lead to recreating the climate and culture of communities, and lead to the greatest efficacy of everyone’s involvement.

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. ― Benjamin Franklin


Equality and Equity: The difference matters. The Freechild Project


What Is Youth Equality With Adults?

When young people are fully equal with adults, they are fully involved in a given activity. In this activity, they experience a 50/50 split of authority, obligation, and commitment. Theoretically, they also receive equal education, equal resources and equal positions, too.

One of the realities of youth equality is that there isn’t recognition for the specific developmental needs of children, youth, or adults. Given the ability to create an equal bar with young people, adults often set that bar at the adults’ level, covertly insisting that children and youth rise to their level instead of vice versa. Without receiving that acknowledgment of their needs, young people may lose interest and become disengaged quickly. This can then allow adults to say, “We treated them equally and they failed; its their fault, not ours.”

However, youth equality with adults can also allow young people to experience full power and authority in relationship to adults. It can also foster the formation of basic youth/adult partnerships and promote rapid awareness building of youth mainstreaming in organizations or communities.


What Is Youth Equity With Adults?

When young people are completely equitable with adults, they may experience full authority with exceptional educational opportunities; phenomenal training with growing activities; or other configurations between children, youth and adults. Youth equity with adults can allow for this to be a 40/60 split, or 20/80 split when it’s deemed appropriate by young people and adults.

Everyone involved — young people and adults — are recognized for their impact in the activity, and each has ownership of the outcomes. Youth/adult equity requires conscious commitment by all participants to overcoming the barriers involved. It positions adults and young people in healthy, whole relationships with each other while moving forward in action.

Ultimately, youth/adult equity can lead to creating structures to support differences by establishing safe, supportive environments for equitable involvement. In turn, this may lead to recreating the climate and culture of communities, and lead to the greatest efficacy of young peoples’ participation.

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  • Toronto Youth Equity Strategy – Based on the idea that those youth who are most vulnerable to involvement in serious violence and crime do not have equitable access to the comprehensive supports they need to change their lives for the better. The purpose is to address what the City can do to better serve the needs of this specific population, within its authority to plan, manage, deliver, and advocate.




Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth equity in your community or organization, contact us.


Youth and Personal Development

SoundOut Student Voice Team in Seattle

As young people grow up, they build skills and knowledge that are important to them as youth, and that become more important as they become more independent and grow older. Becoming fully engaged in the world around themselves leaves youth and personal development as important things to think about and work towards.

You are free to choose but you are not free from the consequences of your choices. – Proverb


Some of the issues young people can address through personal development include:

  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Learning new skills, including communication, visioning and goal setting, life planning, etc.
  • Developing self-respect and self-esteem
  • Building strengths and talents
  • Identifying employability
  • Enhancing quality of life
  • Improving health
  • Enriching social abilities
  • Fostering independent living skills such as educational planning, money management, bill paying, etc.
  • Managing transitions and rites-of-passage


Youth personal development can happen a lot of different ways. They include self-led learning, communication training, action to develop skills, self-motivation, and group activities.


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Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in personal development in your community or organization, contact us.