Author: Hayley Jones and Kirrily Pells
Full Citation: Jones, H. & Pells, K. (2016). Undermining learning: Multi-country longitudinal evidence on corporal punishment in schools (Innocenti research brief). Florence, Italy: UNICEF.
Outcome(s): Increased Attendance, Increased Learning, Increased Retention
Intervention(s): Positive Discipline Teaching StrategiesAssociated Resource Tool(s):
Overview: Using longitudinal data from the Young Lives study, this Brief summarizes research examining whether corporal punishment in schools is associated with lasting effects on children’s cognitive development. The brief is part of the UNICEF Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children.
Methodology: The Young Lives longitudinal study of childhood poverty follows 12,000 children over 15 years, across four countries: Ethiopia, India (the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), Peru, and Vietnam. Young Lives oversamples poor households, and though not nationally representative, broadly captures the diversity of children within each country in terms of geographic, ethnic, and livelihood characteristics. The study has an Older Cohort born in 1994/95 and a Younger Cohort born in 2000/1, and collects both the quantitative and qualitative data.
Findings: We find that corporal punishment in schools is highly prevalent, despite legal prohibition, with younger children, boys and poor children at greater risk. Corporal punishment experienced at age 8 is negatively associated with maths scores at age 12 in India, Peru and Vietnam. The associated negative effect of corporal punishment on maths scores at age 12 is equivalent to the child's caregiver having between three and six years less education. Legislation, teacher training, addressing gender and social norms and greater international and national prioritisation of tackling violence affecting children, all play a part in building safe, supportive and enabling environments so that every child can flourish.