Many parents still justify physical punishment

PHOTO: Luis Louro / PantherMedia / Scanpix

Even though parents of Estonian children say they use encouragement as the main form of disciplining their children (98 percent), 42 percent of adults still consider physical punishments to be warranted in certain situations.

“People are irritated, mean and overworked in Estonia,” educationist Tiiu Kuurme said when commenting on this year’s child rights and parenthood study. Kuurme said it is a sign people are incapable of learning when there is lingering difficulty in understanding that things have changed, and physical punishment is no longer acceptable.

Analyst at the Praxis Center for Policy Studies Kristi Anniste and head of family policy at the Ministry of Social Affairs Pirjo Turk said that adults and children still need to be told that all manner of maltreatment of children is illegal and punishable by law.

They added that raising awareness in terms of what maltreatment entails is needed as parents often do not realize slapping their children or pulling them by the hair are forms of physical violence and therefore not allowed.

Comparison of results with the 2012-2020 children and families’ development plan reveals that parents have not changed their attitudes toward physical punishment and use it as readily as they did in 2010. It turned out that physically punishing children is more accepted than violence between adults.

The Praxis study found that attitudes of people who were physically punished in childhood differ from those who did not experience violence as children. While 49 percent of parents who were physically punished as children tolerate physical punishments in certain situations, it is found acceptable by just 29 percent of parents who were not punished.