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Wales just made spanking illegal, joining more than 60 countries that have outlawed corporal punishment

Parents can no longer spank, slap or shake their children according to a new law in Wales.

Parents in Wales can no longer spank, slap, hit or shake kids, according to a new law outlawing all physical punishments for children. According to The Guardian, corporal punishment had been included as "reasonable punishment" in England and Wales since Victorian times, but that defense no longer applies.

"Until now, children were the only group in our society who it was acceptable to strike in certain circumstances," Viv Laing, the policy and public affairs manager at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Cymru Wales, told The Guardian. "We don’t allow the physical punishment of adults or animals, so it is absurd that we have for so long with children.”

But not everyone is happy with the law.


Some conservatives expressed concern that the law would lead to a "Stasi culture" in which citizens become informants and turn in their neighbors to law enforcement for parenting choices. But Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan rejected the notion. “We don’t want people spying,” she said, before adding, “Looking after children is the responsibility of the whole community.”

The law, which applies to both residents of and visitors to Wales, is being hailed as "historic" by the Welsh government. But Wales is hardly the first country to outlaw corporal punishment. In 1979, Sweden became the first nation to make striking a child illegal, and since then, more than 60 other countries have followed suit.

The countries that banned spanking first are regularly rated among the happiest on Earth.

Any time the topic of spanking comes up in the U.S., some people defend the practice as being not only acceptable, but preferable. The adage "spare the rod, spoil the child" (which many people think comes from the Bible—it doesn't) is still alive and well in certain circles, and advocates of corporal punishment claim it's necessary for children to learn what's right and wrong and to exercise self-control. Some are quick to blame everything from disrespect to disobedience to criminal behavior on society's move away from spanking.

But if we look at the countries that outlawed corporal punishment decades ago, those fears of bad behavior and criminality run amok appear comically unfounded. The Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark are pretty much always in the Top 10 lists of happiest nations, and they were four of the first countries to outlaw corporal punishment. They are also in the Top 10 list of safest nations ranked by perception in U.S. News and World Report, so clearly a lack of striking children for misbehaving has not led to some kind of mass societal downfall in those nations.

(For comparison, the U.S. ranked No. 38 on the safest nations by perception list and No. 19 on the happiest nations list. According to the nationwide American Family Survey, nearly half of Americans believe that “it is sometimes necessary to discipline a child with a good, hard spanking.” Correlation isn't causation, of course, but these numbers indicate that spanking kids is not the key to a happy, safe society.)

Research shows that spanking affects the brain in the same way as more severe forms of abuse.

It was one thing to spank kids when people didn't know better and just followed whatever they'd been taught, but we now have the ability to study and research the effects of parenting choices. The research has repeatedly led to the same conclusion: Spanking isn't good for kids.

For instance, a 2021 Harvard study found that spanking can alter a child's brain development in the same way that more severe forms of abuse do.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said senior researcher on the study, Katie A. McLaughlin. "While we might not conceptualize corporal punishment to be a form of violence, in terms of how a child's brain responds, it's not all that different than abuse. It's more a difference of degree than of type."

On top of that, spanking doesn't even appear to work as intended. In the majority of studies analyzed in a review, children's behavior actually worsened after physical punishment with external negative behaviors including aggression, antisocial behavior and disruptive behavior at school increasing over time.

We need to make sure parents are educated about parenting methods other than spanking.

However, if parents who feel that spanking is necessary are to be convinced otherwise, they need to be given tools for parenting. Too many people see spanking as discipline and everything else as permissiveness, which simply isn't the case. There are plenty of ways to raise respectful, contributing humans without hitting them. (For those who don't consider spanking as "hitting," try articulating the difference. Is it not hitting if you're hitting a child on the bottom? Why does that part of the body count any less than their arms or legs or backs or heads?)

There are plenty of alternatives to spanking, but parents may not have the knowledge, experience or support they need to figure out other methods of discipline. Outlawing corporal punishment might be a good way to get parents to stop striking their children, but we need to make sure parents are educated about what to do instead. Perhaps providing parents with free parenting classes throughout their children's childhoods would go just as far, if not further, than merely outlawing spanking and slapping children as a form of punishment.

Writing it into law, however, is a good way for a society to express the importance of children's rights and to impress upon parents the need to find nonviolent ways to interact with and teach their kids.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


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Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

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As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

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Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.