It was a highly successful and inspiring conference! Attendees from 21 countries and 22 states in the U.S. met in Dallas from June 2 to 4, 2011. The conference achieved the three goals of a) bringing together committed individuals from around the world, b) raising awareness of the problems associated with corporal punishment of children, and c) developing strategies to advance the worldwide movement.
A total of 140 people attended the interdisciplinary conference. In attendance were activists, attorneys, parent and child educators, physicians, politicians, researchers from several disciplines, teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as concerned citizens.
The Conference Itself:
The opening night session began with welcomes by Dr. George Holden (Conference Chair) and Dr. Paul Ludden (Provost of SMU). That was followed by presentation of awards to three individuals who have shown sustained and outstanding leadership in promoting the movement to end corporal punishment of children. These individuals are: Peter Newell, the foremost leader in promoting the elimination of corporal punishment around the world; Dr. Murray Straus, the preeminent researcher into the consequences of corporal punishment; and Nadine Block, the educator and social activist. Those presentations were followed by a stirring performance by Raffi Cavoukian, founder of the Centre for Child Honouring. Mali Nilsson of Save the Children Sweden then spoke about the current status of the anti-spank movement. The evening ended with presentations from two young people. Dawn Ford, age 11, gave an impassioned speech about why children should not be hit. Then Johny O'Donnell, a New Zealand activist committed to eradicating violence, talked about what he has learned in his efforts to mobilize youth.
The next morning the conference resumed with two plenary sessions. The first set of talks, by Peter Newell (England), Sonia Vohita (Ethiopia) and Beth Wood (New Zealand), addressed the current status of corporal punishment and laws around the world. The second session, addressing the state of research, consisted of talks by Dr. Murray Straus, Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, and Dr. Bernadette Saunders.
The afternoon sessions and the sessions the next morning consisted of symposia addressing a variety of legal, psychological, social, and political aspects of ending corporal punishment. In addition, two symposia focused on positive discipline-one with respect to school discipline and the other home discipline. Several sessions at the end of the conference concerned strategies and plans for promoting the movement.
Short videos of many of the talks as well as accompanying PowerPoint presentations or copies of actual talks are available on this website.
(see the Program and Presentations link)
A poster session, consisting of 27 posters, occurred in the late afternoon. Many of the posters are available for downloading from the website. (see the Posters link)
The conference ended with a unanimous endorsement of the proclamation to end all forms of corporal punishment of children and replace it with positive discipline. (click here to see the proclamation)
The Positive Aftermath:
The conference not only brought together individuals who are committed to ending corporal punishment, but it attracted worldwide attention. The conference was mentioned on TV shows, in newspapers and magazines, in radio interviews, in op-ed pieces as well as letters to the editor, on blogs, in at least one scientific journal, and even in the Brazilian Parliament! A Google search on the conference title reveals about 55,000 results. Evidently the conference has had and will continue to have reverberations around the world.
If you are interested in being involved in this movement,
please contact Dr. George Holden (firstname.lastname@example.org).