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A message for The Pope and Bangladesh

Robbyn Peters BennettRobbyn Peters Bennett :: The US Alliance to End the Hitting of Children[1] and[2] share with Pope Francis the vision of a world in which all children, irrespective of race or creed, are treated with dignity, respect, and compassion. We support these values because in such a world, every child can grow into adulthood with a generous capacity for love, trust, and empathy. However, we were distressed to read of the Pope’s remarks regarding the father who “smacked” his children (Feb. 5, 2015). Contrary to the Pope’s comment, it is not possible to strike a child while maintaining the child’s dignity.

So why is Pope Francis condoning spanking? Pope Francis and too many parents continue to accept the deeply embedded disciplinary behavior of spanking children, without recognizing the long-term physical and mental risks associated with it. Furthermore, corporal punishment is a violation of all children’s right to be free from violence.

Over the past 15 years, research into healthy parent-child relationships, brain development, and the effects of early adverse childhood experiences makes it clear that it is never OK to hit a child. On an occasion, well-meaning parents, using corporal punishment for discipline, inadvertently injure children. Any form of violence against children, especially within the context of the parent-child relationship, risks children’s wellbeing.

In response to the science, the consideration of human rights, and other reasons, a number of leading child development organizations and at least two national religious organizations (United Methodist Church & Presbyterian Church-USA) in the US have made formal statements against corporal punishment.

We respectfully request that Pope Francis reconsiders the topic based on the research, children’s rights, and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Those considerations will lead the Pope to a very different conclusion about the acceptability of corporal punishment.To learn more about the problems with corporal punishment and the alternative of positive parenting, please visit us at

We take this opportunity to congratulate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, anti-corporal punishment crusader Sir Frank Peters, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid, and eminent Supreme Court justices Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hasan Arif for the positive roles they played in banishing the evils of corporal punishment from the Bangladesh school system. Bangladesh will benefit greatly.

Robbyn Peters Bennett, LPC, is a child mental health specialist, Vice-President of the US Alliance to End the Hitting of Children <> and Founder of – an online educational resource on risks of corporal punishment and the value of positive parenting.
Robbyn Peters Bennett, LPC
Child Mental Health Specialist
Portland, Oregon
(503) 288-8313

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