LETTER:US foundations for happier generations

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The Independent Online
THE revelation in a bowdlerised report from the Department of Health that almost one in six children has been severely beaten deserves your front-page headline ("9 out of 10 children still face a thrashing", 18 June).

The assertion by Peter Newell of Epoch, which seeks to end the physical punishment of children, that such treatment inevitably leads to violence in adult life is supported in detail by a 20-year study of the effects of child abuse and malnutrition upon later behaviour.

Cathy Widom of the American National Institute of Justice, in her study, The Cycle of Violence, showed that malnutrition and physical and sexual abuse of children increased the likelihood of subsequent violent behaviour by up to 53 per cent. The findings were described by the president of the institute as "alarming because the United States has almost one million children who are victims of abuse or neglect". If one in six UK children are the subject of physical abuse, the UK numbers will approach those in the US.

The New York Police Department has changed its guidelines for response to reports of child abuse. The Department of Health and the Home Office might pay attention.

John Collins

Leader, Labour Group

Cheshire County Council

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