The Strong Evidence Against Spanking

by Julie Beck,

as featured in The Atlantic,

Around the world, an average of 60 percent of children receive some kind of physical punishment, according to UNICEF. And the most common form is spanking. In the United States, most people still see spanking as acceptable, though FiveThirtyEight reports that the percentage of people who approve of spanking has gone down, from 84 percent in 1986 to about 70 percent in 2012.

“The question of whether parents should spank their children to correct misbehaviors sits at a nexus of arguments from ethical, religious, and human-rights perspectives,” write Elizabeth Gershoff of the University of Texas at Austin, and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor of the University of Michigan, in a new meta-analysis examining the research on spanking and its effects on children.

The researchers raised concerns that previous meta-analyses had defined physical punishment too broadly, including harsher and more abusive behaviors alongside spanking. So for this meta-analysis, they defined spanking as “hitting a child on their buttocks or extremities using an open hand.”

They also worried that spanking was only linked to bad outcomes for kids in studies that weren’t methodologically outstanding. It’s hard to study real-world outcomes like this; there are only a few controlled experimental studies in which some mothers spanked their kids and some didn’t, in a laboratory setting. Those were included in this analysis, along with cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, for a total of 75 studies, 39 of which hadn’t been looked at by any previous meta-analyses. Altogether, these studies included data from 160,927 children.

The researchers looked at the effect sizes from these studies, to see how strong their results were. There were 111 different effect sizes for 75 studies (some of the studies included more than one result). Of those, 108 found that spanking was linked to poor outcomes. Seventy-eight of the negative results were statistically significant. Only nine results indicated that there could be a benefit to spanking, and only one of those was statistically significant.

“Thus, among the 79 statistically significant effect sizes, 99 percent indicated an association between spanking and a detrimental child outcome,” the study reads. Those outcomes were: “low moral internalization, aggression, antisocial behavior, externalizing behavior problems, internalizing behavior problems, mental-health problems, negative parent–child relationships, impaired cognitive ability, low self-esteem, and risk of physical abuse from parents.”

Harsher forms of abuse were excluded from the analysis, so this paper shows that spanking alone puts children at risk for some serious problems. The authors also looked at a subset of studies that compared spanking with physical abuse, and found that both were linked to bad outcomes “that are similar in magnitude and identical in direction,” they wrote.

Given that spanking is still such a common—and controversial—form of punishment, careful examination of the research will be important for parents and policymakers alike. And as the researchers concluded here,“there is no evidence that spanking does any good for children and all evidence points to the risk of it doing harm.”

The Difficult Art of Self-Compassion

as featured on http://www.brainpickings.com

view the original article here:

https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/09/05/school-of-life-self-compassion/

 

“Compassion,” wrote historian Karen Armstrong in considering the proper meaning of the Golden Rule, “asks us to look into our own hearts, discover what gives us pain, and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else.” In herbeautiful ode to compassion, Lucinda Williams urged: “Have compassion for everyone you meet … You do not know what wars are going on down there, where the spirit meets the bone.”

And yet even the most compassionate among us have one sizable blind spot: the self. Our culture’s epidemic of self-criticism has left us woefully unskilled at self-compassion — that essential anchor of sanity, which both grounds and elevates our spirit.

To survive in this high-pressured, crazy world, most of us have to become highly adept at self-criticism. We learn how to tell ourselves off for our failures, and for not working hard or smart enough. But so good are we at this that we’re sometimes in danger of falling prey to an excessive version of self-criticism — what we might call self-flagellation: a rather dangerous state, which just ushers in depression and underperformance. We might simply lose the will to get out of bed.

For those moments, we need a corrective — we need to carve out time for an emotional state of which many of us are profoundly suspicious: self-compassion. We’re suspicious because this sounds horribly close to self-pity. But because depression and self-hatred are serious enemies of a good life, we need to appreciate the role of self-care in a good, ambitious, and fruitful life.

The Theory of Cumulative Stress: How to Recover When Stress Builds Up

by James Clear.

recovery-bucket

This article is sourced from http://www.jamesclear.com

It was my first year of graduate school and my professor was standing at the front of the room. He was telling our class about a mistake he made years before.

About a decade earlier, my professor had been one of the senior executives at Sears, Roebuck & Company, the large department store chain. They were in the middle of a massive national campaign and preparing for a major brand launch. My professor was leading the operation.

For almost two months prior to the launch day, he was flying all over the country to strike up buzz with major partners and media companies. While criss-crossing the country on flight after flight, he was also trying to run his department from the road. For weeks on end he would meet with the media and business partners all day, answer emails and phone calls all night, squeeze in 3 or 4 hours of sleep, and wake up to do it all over again.

The week before the big launch day, his body gave out on him. He had to be rushed to the hospital. Major organs had started to fail from the chronic stress. He spent the next eight days lying in a hospital bed, unable to do anything as the launch day came and went.

Your Bucket of Health and Energy

Imagine that your health and energy are a bucket of water.

In your day-to-day life, there are things that fill your bucket up. These are inputs like sleep, nutrition, meditation, stretching, laughter, and other forms of recovery.

There are also forces that drain the water from your bucket. These are outputs like lifting weights or running, stress from work or school, relationship problems, or other forms of stress and anxiety.

The forces that drain your bucket aren’t all negative, of course. To live a productive life, it can be important to have some of things flowing out of your bucket. Working hard in the gym, at school, or at the office allows you to produce something of value. But even positive outputs are still outputs and they drain your energy accordingly.

These outputs are cumulative. Even a little leak can result in significant water loss over time.

The Theory of Cumulative Stress

I usually lift heavy three days per week. For a long time, I thought I should be able to handle four days per week. However, every time I added the extra workout in, I would be just fine for a few weeks and then end up exhausted or slightly injured about a month into the program.

This was frustrating. Why could I handle it for four or five weeks, but not longer than that?

Eventually I realized the issue: stress is cumulative. Three days per week was a pace I could sustain. When I added that fourth day in, the additional stress started to build and accumulate. At some point, the burden became too big and I would get exhausted or injured.

In extreme cases, like that of my professor, this snowball of stress can start to roll so fast that it pushes you to the brink of death. But it’s important to realize that cumulative stress is something that you’re dealing with even when it isn’t a matter of life or death. The stress of extra workouts or additional mileage. The stress of building a business or finishing an important project. The stress of parenting your young children or dealing with a bad boss or caring for your aging parents. It all adds up.

Keeping Your Bucket Full

If you want to keep your bucket full, you have two options.

  1. Refill your bucket on a regular basis. That means catching up on sleep, making time for laughter and fun, eating enough to maintain solid energy levels, and otherwise making time for recovery.
  2. Let the stressors in your life accumulate and drain your bucket. Once you hit empty, your body will force you to rest through injury and illness. Just like it did with my professor.

Recovery is Not Negotiable

I’m in the middle of a very heavy squat program right now.

I’ve spent the last two years training with really easy weights and gradually working my way up to heavier loads. I’ve built a solid foundation of strength. But even with that foundation, the weights on this program are heavy and the intensity is high.

Because of this, I’m taking special care to allow myself additional recovery. I’m allowed to sleep longer than usual. If I need to eat more, so be it. Usually, I’m lazy about stretching and foam rolling, but I have been rolling my little heart out every day for the last few weeks. I’m doing whatever I can do to balance the stress and recovery deficit that this squat program is placing on me.

Why?

Because recovery is not negotiable. You can either make time to rest and rejuvenate now or make time to be sick and injured later. Keep your bucket full.

Battered Woman Syndrome in Pakistani Society

This post has been authored by a guest blogger who is a neuropsychology student and researcher at the University of Toronto. She likes to blog for Rozan Helpline.

Pakistani society has recently made strides that have favored the protection of women in society. The passing of the Violence against Women bill(2016) was long overdue. However, this bill was met with scorn and anger by some parties. Why, one may ask, is violence acceptable in Pakistani society? And furthermore if the perpetrators of violence against women execute these crimes then why are women who suffer accepting of this?

Women who suffer repeated emotional or physical abuse can sometimes experience something called Battered Woman Syndrome. A woman who suffers from this disorder can experience a variety of symptoms: fear for her life, daily activities are impaired, fear of violence or unwanted sexual advances, health and stress issues, and an inability to be sexually intimate. Why don’t women allow themselves to flee from this pain?

The answer to why battered women do not leave is a complicated one. If women have children in the context of the family then it makes it doubly difficult. Often women have no means of supporting themselves or their children financially and so besides the internal factors of violence there are external societal factors in play. Pakistani society does not tend to reprimand the man for their violence enough. Therefore, battered women sometimes develop an idea that this how society and the power structure is and they become complicit in the perpetuation of this violent cycle.

Society needs to address this problem by first addressing that the Battered Woman is not to blame for being abused or beaten. The amount of violence against women is very strongly linked to patriarchal structures that are encouraged and enforced in Pakistani society. In order to combat this there first needs to be awareness programs that encourage men to change their behavior towards women. There also needs to be safe shelters that exist for women and children that have suffered abuse to escape to and seek shelter from abusive parties.

Another consequence and contributing factor of not speaking against this violence is low self esteem. When violence continues sometimes battered women begin to blame themselves as the reason for this violence. They feel if they did everything correctly and were good enough then they would not have received the beating. This warped logic allows the women to stay with their husbands and not demonize the abusers behavior and instead blame themselves and experience something called learned helplessness.

Often times, it is important to understand that the perpetrator of abuse is not always violent or abusive. Sometimes he offsets negative behavior with positive actions of love or affection immediately following the abuse. This makes the woman feel that there is not just negativity and in fact there are positive aspects to the relationship. This twisted demonstration of love and concurrent dependency on the male figure for the few acts of kindness perpetuate the relationship and the battered woman remains in the relationship.

If society wants to take a stand against the battering of women and the perpetuation of patriarchal power structures then it is necessary to empower the women and enlighten the men. There are ways of teaching men that violence is not the only way to express their frustration. There should also be programs in rural areas of Pakistani society that express to women that there are options and protection available if they choose to leave their husbands.

Mindfulness: 2500 year old wisdom meets modern science

Mindfulness, in its simplest sense, is paying attention to the present moment as it unfolds without judging or trying to change what is happening. What began as a series of esoteric rituals and practices was transformed and introduced to the western world when curious travelers and seekers of spirituality met Buddhist monks who could perform marvelous feats of self-control all without breaking a sweat. Although living a life of austerity, these monks reported very high feelings of being satisfied with their lives, and claimed they were quite happy. Their bodies and minds seemed to support their claims.

Although breathing exercises have long been a part of any amateur psychologist’s treatment plan for anxiety, mindfulness goes beyond that. Not only does it calm the body but it also seems to train the mind to pay more attention at will to stimuli of interest, effectively quieting the “monkey-mind” of contemporary society, the constant notifications on our gadgets, and the burden of being over-connected.

Recently the benefits of Mindfulness are being explored through research as an aid not only in mental health issues but also in physical ones. With stress becoming a killer in modern times, mindfulness based interventions are showing their efficacy both in the lab and in the real world.

In psychotherapy, a more focused approach is being used to introduce the benefits of this practice to clients. MBSR or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, consists of an intense training regime that not only introduces the practice to the clients but ensures that the client is able to maintain the minimum frequency necessary to realize benefits. According to early trials, the level of peace of mind attained by some of the test subjects was so profound that they returned for a second or third set of trials even though they had mastered the technique and were able to maintain a regular practice on their own.

Another important application of mindfulness in psychotherapy is that of mCBT that combines elements of mindfulness with the already well established efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This newer therapy is being recognized for its effectiveness in the management of treatment resistant depression as well as depression prone to relapse.

Child Sexual Abuse in Pakistani Society

The following is a post by a neuropsychology student who guests-blog for Rozan Helpline.

Child Sexual Abuse(CSA) is indubitably one of the most heinous acts in the world. Consequently it baffles individuals as to why it is rampant in society and why it is statistically on the rise in Pakistan.  When questioning why this horrific act takes place in society one must look at it from a social and a psychological perspective to better understand its occurrence.

Pakistan is a country that has a significant portion of the population living in low socioeconomic conditions. Sexual abuse is prevalent in all classes but is particularly epidemic in the lower SES status. This may be because lower SES household suffer from lower incomes, unemployment, and often are uneducated. In addition, because of the demands of full-time jobs adults often leave their children unsupervised resulting in exposure to harm and malicious individuals. These same children probably go out to play in the neighborhood and are vulnerable to external threats or those looking to isolate the child. Similarly, these children from lack of exposure or understanding of sexuality may not fully understand that they need to be wary of abusers or strangers so may not ask for help or cry out.

Another factor that leaves a child vulnerable is the existence of a physical or psychological disability. Pedophiles and abusers pray on the vulnerable and the children often are not able to comprehend or speak up against the abuse. These children with disabilities are often dependent on caregivers and trust them with their safety and protection.

The confusion of the prevalence of CSA lies in that it is on the rise.  Why has not society quelled this terrible practice? Why is there not widespread outrage at the amount of sexual abuse and violence against children in Pakistani society? The logical conclusion is that Pakistani society has not made enough reprimands against these actions and that there has not been enough action taken to penalize those who commit these heinous acts.

If Pakistan really wants to make a difference and to produce a change in the existing conditions then people need to speak up. There needs to be action taken on a personal level, a community level, and a nation-wide level. Child Sexual Abuse should not just be a taboo topic, it should be one that communities strive to raise awareness about. Children from all socioeconomic backgrounds should be taught how to protect themselves and how to not let anybody touch them inappropriately in any part of their body.

There needs to be institution and community level fight against criminals that perpetrate child sexual abuse. Similarly, there should be more counseling and treatment for survivors who have suffered from abuse. These therapies should teach individuals how to reduce negative feelings and responses as a result of the abuse. Pakistani society will never progress until it takes care and protects those who are the most vulnerable.

 

Workshop on Family Emotional Health

In Pakistan, we have always been proud of the strength and support one is able to gain from family units. This support is not limited to a child’s transition to adulthood and does not require physical boundaries. Children and parents are able to live in unison mostly under the same roof in synergistic relationships.

Recently though,  the family unit is being constantly influenced by external sources in the forms of TV, cinema, or strangers over the internet etc, which according to some is causing this family unit to disintegrate.  Parents often complain that their children do not obey them, that there is a lack of respect and an overall loss of writ.  Parents also observe that they can no longer guide their children in times of need as the young ones do not see them as primary sources of support. This role is being replaced by friends and other acquaintances, potentially exposing the children to threats.

Children have their own observations with regards to the changing family dynamics. Some of them share that parents no longer listen or understand them, there is minimal time spent together involved in quality time. Some have even shared that the parents are physically unavailable for them in times of need.  They feel more connected to their own peer groups and sometimes adults they are not directly related with.

Rozan has been working on children’s emotional health from its inception. Through its vast expertise of working with children and their parents and due to the strongly reported need from clients, it is venturing into working with families with the following express goals:

  1. To provide support to parents for the incredibly complex and time unlimited job we call parenting.
  2. To provide communication skills training and practice within the family with a special emphasis on listening skills.
  3. Allowing parents to experience methods of positive disciplining with a minimum focus on punishment and to encourage child autonomy and independence within acceptable boundaries.
  4. To foster an environment at home that allows for inclusiveness with space for emotional sharing as well as the guarantee that disagreements or ‘exercises of power’ will not exclude the vital need for being understood by each family member.

 

Target population:

Adolescents (early and late stages) and their parents.

A maximum of ten families can be included.