Misusing the Abuse - a Caution for Parenting

By Alexander Pan

Children’s school performances are negatively impacted by physical abuse at home. Researchers of child development from Penn State investigated the influence of corporal punishment and other physical forms of punishment on the school performance and engagement of students in primary school. Three levels of physical punishment were analyzed: mild corporal punishment, harsh corporal punishment, and physical abuse. Children from all three groups exhibited not only lower cognitive performance, but also increased peer isolation in school. The researchers noted that even the children from the mild corporal punishment group portrayed signs of impaired cognitive performance and a deficit of social engagement with peers. Furthermore, any form of physical punishment ultimately decreases a child’s motivation to do well in school, which is seemingly the reverse of the punishment intention. As a result, medical professionals and other programs that reach out to parents are informing them about the negative consequences of physical abuse on a child’s brain development and social skills. To prevent decline in school performance, these professionals are reaching out to inform parents before their children enroll in primary school. Further research efforts need to be conducted to provide alternative ways of enacting discipline without causing damage to the cognitive development of children. 


Penn State. (2017, September 29). Physical abuse and punishment impact children's academic performance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 7, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170929152212.htm

Sarah A. Font, Jamie Cage. Dimensions of physical punishment and their associations with children's cognitive performance and school adjustment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.06.008