Study: More adults in Finland disapprove of corporal punishment

A new Taloustutkimus survey for Yle shows that an increasing number of Finnish residents disapprove of corporal punishment for children. According to the study as many as 70 percent of respondents oppose the idea of physically disciplining youngsters.

Varjokuvassa mies ja lapsi.
Image: Toni Pitkänen / Yle

Pollster Taloustutkimus conducted the corporal punishment survey for Yle between July 18 and 26 and found that some 71 percent of respondents opposed the practice of physically punishing children by measures such as flicking them with a finger or pulling their hair.

Nearly a quarter of the 1,005 people questioned (23%) said that they would accept occasionally meting out physical discipline while just five percent said it was acceptable as a means of teaching children a lesson. The results also showed that men were more open to getting physical with children than women.

"The survey results indicate that children’s status within the family is still different from that of their parents. In adult relationships we wouldn’t accept hair pulling or finger flicking if one party didn’t understand the other. But in the case of children some people still defend it," said programme director Miia Pitkänen of the Central Union for Child Welfare.

Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

Even the best of parents can lose it

Officials say that even the most patient of parents can resort to physically disciplining their children when their nerves fail because of exhaustion or stress.

In a 2014 survey 25 percent of parents said that they sometimes pulled their children’s hair and 13 percent admitted to flicking them with their fingers.

"It is probably lurking under the surface in most of us and it’s been part of our own experiences," said Helsinki dad Markus Kauppinen. However he said he believed that physical punishment has no role in a child’s upbringing.

Lieto resident and grandmother Hilkka Saanisto also confessed to sometimes being pushed to the limit with her own grandchildren.

"Then I just stamp my feet, I may threaten to take away their phones, but it never occurs to me to put them on the rack. I believe that parents get a moment they all regret physical punishment," she said.

Finland law has prohibited the use of corporal punishment for kids since 1984. The practice is currently illegal in 49 countries.

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