Is it necessary to scold children by hitting them? graph of japanese statisticsThe latest survey from iShare took a look at the matter of punches, in particular hitting children and adults, the results of which were a shock to my namby-pamby western liberal attitudes.

Research results

Between the 2nd and 7th of September 2010, 475 members of the CLUB BBQ free email forwarding service completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 54.7% of the sample were male, 30.7% in their twenties, 31.4% in their thirties, and 37.9% in their forties.

Although corporal punishment is banned in Japanese schools, from what I hear teachers still occasionally dish out punishment, and in sports clubs there seems to be a lot of hazing, from over-enthusiastic cheerleading to deaths in sumo stables.

Some of the stories about memories of being hit were as follows: “My gentle father getting mad and beating me for the first time”, “I was playing with matches and nearly set something on fire, so after getting hit I remember reflecting long and hard”, “I never got hit by my parents, so it was a shock the first time my friends hit me”, “I did something that wasn’t sensible and got hit by a teacher”, and “I skived off doing a kanji drill homework and got detention until past 7 pm. I got curious about what the elementary school was like at night, so exploring around the school. I was found by my homeroom teacher who slapped my cheek and gave me a noogie. He was a good teacher.”

Research results

Q1: When you were a child (up to age 19), did you ever get hit by anyone? (Sample size=475)

  All Male
Yes (to SQ) 54.9% 61.9% 46.5%
No 45.1% 38.1% 53.5%

Q1SQ: Who did you get hit by when you were a child? (Sample size=261, multiple answer)

  All Male
Father 66.7% 70.8% 60.0%
Teacher 45.2% 50.3% 37.0%
Mother 41.0% 36.0% 49.0%
Friend 39.5% 52.8% 18.0%
Brother 23.8% 25.5% 21.0%
Sister 10.0% 8.7% 12.0%
Grandfather 5.7% 4.3% 8.0%
Boyfriend/girlfriend 3.1% 3.7% 2.0%
Grandmother 2.3% 2.5% 2.0%
Other 5.7% 6.2% 5.0%

Q2A: Since becoming an adult (age 20 or older), did you ever get hit by anyone? (Sample size=475)

  All Male
Yes (to SQ) 8.4% 9.6% 7.0%
No 91.6% 90.4% 93.0%

Q2B: Since becoming an adult (age 20 or older), did you ever get hit by anyone? (Sample size=475)

  All Hit as child
Not hit as child
Yes (to SQ) 8.4% 13.4% 2.3%
No 91.6% 86.6% 97.7%

Q2SQ: Who did you get hit by when you were an adult? (Sample size=40, multiple answer)

  All Male
Friend 22.5% 32.0% 6.7%
Boyfriend/girlfriend 22.5% 20.0% 26.7%
Father 7.5% 0.0% 20.0%
Mother 7.5% 4.0% 13.3%
Brother 5.0% 0.0% 13.3%
Sister 2.5% 4.0% 0.0%
Grandfather 2.5% 4.0% 0.0%
Teacher 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Grandmother 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Other 40.0% 48.0% 26.7%

Q3A: Depending on the circumstances, do you think it may be necessary to scold children by hitting them? (Sample size=475)

  All Male
Very much necessary 21.3% 27.3% 14.0%
Perhaps necessary 53.1% 50.0% 56.7%
Not necessary at all 25.7% 22.7% 29.3%

Q2B: Depending on the circumstances, do you think it may be necessary to scold children by hitting them? (Sample size=475)

  All Hit as child
Not hit as child
Very much necessary 21.3% 29.5% 11.2%
Perhaps necessary 53.1% 55.6% 50.0%
Not necessary at all 25.7% 14.9% 38.8%

Q4: Depending on the circumstances, do you think it may be necessary to scold adults by hitting them? (Sample size=475)

  All Male
Very much necessary 5,7% 7.3% 3.7%
Perhaps necessary 27,4% 24.2% 31.2%
Not necessary at all 66.9% 68.5% 65.1%


JD · September 26, 2010 at 01:53

Could you make the title of this survey a little more biased and inflammatory please? Its not quite sensationalist enough for my liking. Maybe something like “25% of Japanese people actively agree with abusing and mentally scarring their children”?

Erin · September 26, 2010 at 02:33

Maybe the original survey-takers qualified “hitting” in some way that makes what you’re describing here more clearly “abuse”, but without that clarification, I have to agree with JD. I was occasionally spanked by my parents as punishment when I was a child, but I certainly don’t feel I was abused.

    Ken Y-N · September 26, 2010 at 13:38

    JD, Erin, guilty as charged! I felt, though, that the survey was specifically about closed fists, not open-handed slaps. As you say, Erin, I agree that an occasional smack within a family situation is not child abuse, but if it was about smacking I think the survey would have been specific about that being the issue.

      anon · September 27, 2010 at 05:10

      Punching kids with a closed fist is serious beating – although also slapping can be an abuse depending on the force involved and if the kids are being hit on the cheeks or the sides of the head.
      It’s difficult to call this survey biased when the numbers speak for themselves.

        Natem · September 27, 2010 at 07:36

        The survey isn’t about punching. It’s about any kind of striking. The survey is not especially biased, but the translation and presentation are.

        “Beat”, for example, is an inappropriate translation of “叩く”, which is, in my experience, a softer euphamism for “æ®´ã‚‹”, the general word for hit. The words “punch” and “child abuse” are not translated, they are strictly a part of the author’s commentary.
        I think the author is to blame for the “false impression” that literally every commentator so far has shown.

        The word in the question “æ®´ã‚‹” covers all sort of hitting… but very, very few people would imagine the survey question to be asking about punching a kid.
        And lastly, what I was trying to imply below with the “American model” was the old fashioned spanking on the butt that was done repeatedly and until the child cried, with the physical pain itself as the punishment. That is almost certainly beyond the pale for most Japanese people.

NateM · September 26, 2010 at 09:03

Of course you’re being inflammatory, and that’s cool. It’s how people advocate their position on the Internet, and conflating “æ®´ã‚‹” with “虐待” might just get you some buzz from 2ch. I just wish English-speakers weren’t so credulous about every damned thing about Japan written on the internet.

In Japan’s defense: The image accompanying the article shows a kid getting bopped on the top of the head. I’m pretty sure that most Japanese people have a bop on the head or a literal “slap on the wrist” in mind when they speak of “hitting children”. Not face-slapping, not spanking and certainly not “punching”. I don’t think so many people would be in favor of the US model of “hitting kids” to deliberately inflict pain.

In a related story, many Japanese are shocked to learn that fewer than 10% of Americans maintain basic sanitation in their homes (i.e. take off their shoes before entering).

    Ken Y-N · September 26, 2010 at 13:44

    NateM, thank you! Yes, the image was of a “noogie”, a twisted knuckle to the top of the head, but never having had one as a child I cannot say how it compares to a slap. However, I would certainly not expect a teacher to do that to a pupil.

    I’m not really sure what you’re getting at with the ‘the US model of “hitting kids” to deliberately inflict pain’, though.

    Finally, touche – yes, that’s very true!

    Piglet · September 28, 2010 at 13:52

    Whether it is a slap on the wrist, on the top of the head or a punch, it is definitely inappropriate for a teacher to use any form of physical punishment. I am all in favor of teachers authority and some form of punishment for bad behavior (including additional work) but if I learn my son has been touched by his teacher, I will definitely make sure the teacher gets in real trouble with his administration.

VsevolodKrolikov · February 6, 2011 at 11:05

I think the discussion of this survey reveals one of the central risks of foreigners talking about Japan: a lack of awareness about their own country. In the UK a 2008 survey revealed that 70% of parents had smacked their children, while in the US a recent poll showed two thirds saying that spanking was justified in some circumstances. It’s actually not that different.

These figures in all three countries are depressingly high, in my opinion. And of course, if you’re settled in Japan, these numbers are your business to complain about, whether you’re native-born or not.

I love this site, by the way. Keep it up!

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