Evaluations, Reports, Studies, Reviews and Research

Child Disciplinary Practices at Home: Evidence from a range of low- and middle-income countries

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UNICEF, United Nations Children's Fund

Child discipline is an integral part of child rearing in all cultures. It teaches children self-control and acceptable behaviour. Although the need for child discipline is broadly recognized, there is considerable debate regarding violent physical and psychological disciplinary practices. Research has found that these have negative impacts on children’s mental and social development. Violent discipline is also a violation of a child’s right to protection from all forms of violence while in the care of their parents or other caregivers, as set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This report analyses findings on child discipline from 35 Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) conducted in low- and middle-income countries in 2005 and 2006. Questions on child discipline were addressed to the mother (or primary caregiver) of one randomly selected child aged 2–14 years in each household. The questionnaire asked whether any member of the household had used various disciplinary practices with that child during the past month. The survey covered eight violent disciplinary practices, some of which were psychological (such as shouting and name calling) while others were physical (such as shaking and hitting). The surveys also collected information on three nonviolent forms of discipline, such as explaining why a behaviour is wrong. Finally, interviewers asked the mother (or primary caregiver) about her or his personal beliefs regarding the need for physical punishment in child rearing.

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