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During the 2011 legislative session, the Children, Youth, and Family Committee focused on a 2010 legislative proposal on Corporal Punishment that was withdrawn by the sponsors until certain controversial definitions could be better clarified.  CYF decided that the present definition of corporal punishment in Maryland was vague and unclear and needed revision to educate the community and to better protect children from risk of serious bodily harm.

Nationally, NASW has consistently opposed the use of physical punishment, believing there are more effective parenting strategies.  Research has demonstrated a link between physical punishment and several negative developmental outcomes for children: physical injury, increased aggression, antisocial behavior, poorer adult adjustment, and greater tolerance of violence.  Physical punishment poses a risk to the safety and development of children as it’s use can easily cross over the line into child abuse.

CYF began the revision process by researching corporal punishment laws around the country.  In a cooperative venture with the Chapter’s lobbyist and several supportive organizations, a 2011 draft proposal was completed.  CYF began developing an action strategy to form a coalition with various groups/organizations, potential partners and legislative sponsors.  Particular attention was focused on the religious community.  CYF believes the clarification of the present Maryland State Law to prohibit certain unreasonable and excessive acts of corporal punishment will better protect children from deliberate and unintended harm.

Legislation was withdrawn by sponsors due to equivocal language used in defining key terms related to corporal punishment and abuse.  The CYF Committee then charged itself with the task of initiating an education campaign to increase the community’s familiarity with and understanding of child abuse laws in Maryland and alternative parenting techniques to corporal punishment.

In response to the need for clarity in the recommendations for positive parenting techniques, the CYF Committee developed their version of the ‘No Hitting Zone’ project.  Originally developed at the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, the “No Hitting Zone” concept has emerged at other facilities, such as St. Barnabas Hospital’s Child Advocacy Center and the University of Michigan’s  C.S. Mott Children’s and Women’s Hospital.  The goals of the No Hitting Zone Project were to strengthen families and the safety of family members, to promote a community that is more respectful of children’s rights, to enhance the parenting skills of parents/caregivers, and to protect children from serious bodily injury.

Through the former committee chair the CYF Committee’s initiative was shared with the Social Work Connections Committee of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, who then proposed a partnership to expand the campaign and address the promotion of positive care giving across the family lifespan, to include elder abuse and abuse of vulnerable adults (developmentally delayed and mentally ill).  The CYF/ KKI team has since created the Choosing Healthy Options In Caring for Everyone Safely (C.H.O.I.C.E.S.) Poster Campaign.  C.H.O.I.C.E.S.’ mission is to acknowledge the joys of caring for others and address the stressors that can accompany the role of caregiver.  The poster campaign has been designed to identify, educate, support, and refer those in challenging relationships, especially in the role of caregiver for a family member.

The CYF Committee continues to meet on the first Monday evening of every month at 6:00 pm at the NASW MD Chapter office.  If you would like more information about the committee, the workgroup, or to request additional copies of the posters, please contact Committee Chair, Erin Walton, at . You can also follow the committee's work and get updated information about C.H.O.I.C.E.S. at the CYF Blog 

The works of the C.H.O.I.C.E.S. workgroup are copyrighted, all rights are reserved.  They are free to download, reproduce, and display.  You may not edit or change the content of the posters in anyway.  You may not take credit for the creation or production of the work, and you may not distribute the work for profit.  You may use the posters for educational and display purposes.  The C.H.O.I.C.E.S. posters should not be used for any purposes not listed here without prior written permission of the work group.  By downloading these posters you are agreeing to the terms listed here.  Thank you for your interest and support.


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