In the today’s society, people are associating corporal punishment at schools with a physical abuse. However, the distinction between these two ones is significantly narrow. Corporal punishment can leave a lasting impression; and it could be described as a borderline child abuse, dependent upon an object or a method of administering corporal punishment. Punishment administrators at schools including teachers may opt to use a paddle, a hand, a switch or any other object that has the capacity to inflict physical pain.
This is done without any consideration of potential risks that hitting or inflicting physical pain to a child might have in the present or future. Though, in the past, corporal punishment was deemed to be an effective method of punishment; the extent and mode of application may have the varied outcomes. Therefore, this paper will argue that corporal punishment is morally wrong and should be not be used as a form of punishment at all schools.
Why Punishment in Schools Should not be Permitted
There are two factors that must be taken into account when administering discipline at schools including how to distinguish between abuse and corporal punishment (Arum 145); intention and intensity. Intensity describes the degree within which corporal punishment has the capacity to cause physical injuries; while it refers to the degree within which an educator is willing and capable of using corporal punishment as a discipline enforcement tool. Intensity of corporal punishment often refers to the severity of injuries that have occurred from corporal punishment such as spanking. For instance, spanking a child until they welt, or have bruises, is inherently child abuse and not punishment.
According to the article “Teach, Don’t Hit!”, “parents resort to corporal punishment for different reasons;” some consider this as being “appropriate to children’s education; because it relieves tension or because they lack sufficient resources to tackle a situation or do not have strategies for achieving what they want” (UNICEF). In my opinion, such arguments are unfounded. They appear more of an individual issue but not a factor that should influence the policy of education and discipline at schools.
In the modern society, people are scared to discipline their children in public when it comes to using corporal punishment since it may be perceived as child abuse and a reason for the intervention of child’s services and authorities (Regolli, Hewitt, and Delisi 263). Consequently, corporal punishment is more prevalent at home than at schools or public places as compared to several decades ago. Parents often use a threat of corporal punishment to deter the wrongdoing on the part of their children. The assumption here is that parents are afraid to use corporal punishment in public for fear of either being reported to social services or perceived as abusive parents. Although there are various repercussions and potential instances of abuse from the use of corporal punishment at schools, the administration of punishment must be regulated to deter incidents of abuse or a physical and psychological injury to students (Niolon).
However, the proponents of corporal punishment argue that without such punitive measures being taken children or students would become arrogant and disrespectful of their teachers. As such, they would be uncontrollable; hence, the development of negative attitudes and behavior. In various modern societies, the application of corporal punishment may result in severe repercussions to a school and a responsible educator since they would be perceived as condoning child abuse at schools. Meanwhile in other societies, corporal punishment is allowed at schools since it is believed to the epitome of instilling discipline in unruly, uncontrollable and errant students (Pate and Gould 151). In the past, most parents did not wait until their children got home to administer any type punishment. If children misbehaved or erred in a public place, they were warned once. If the behavior did not change, then corporal punishment was administered forthwith. In the current society, if someone were to see that, he/she would probably call the police to report a parent’s action as child abuse (Regolli, Hewitt, and Delisi 263).
A significant number of schools have banned corporal punishment; therefore, teachers experience the hard times disciplining children (Niolon). While I argue corporal punishment is not an effective form of punishment at schools as a punishment itself, other forms of punishment should be used in cases where students are errant. As such, strict and consistent punishment should be administered to errant students and children. There are various news media that constantly uncover the extent of violence at schools. However, the cause of such violence at schools cannot be addressed through a violent response towards students.
Errant behavior could be a factor of varied reasons including mental health issues, social awkwardness and interactions with parents, peers or friends (Regoli, Hewitt, and Delisi 265). Proponents of corporal punishment argue that there is a significant increase in disciplinary and disrespect at schools, in modern societies than several years ago. This is because students know their rights and may use such knowledge to deter corporal punishment. Furthermore, a significant number of parents do not condone physical punishment on their children and any incidence of corporal punishment may result in a legal tussle between a parent and a school (Bitensky 80).
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Teachers have to tread carefully when dealing with disrespectful children. They are not allowed to raise their voices as this is considered a verbal abuse; they cannot spank since this is considered a physical abuse, which could cause the teacher and school to be sued. “Emerging research suggests corporal punishment in schools may harm a child’s cognitive ability” (Nauert). As the child is growing up, your only job is to learn and enjoy life. “If children are exposed to corporal punishment in a learning environment, they may have long-term detrimental effects on children’s verbal intelligence and their executive-functioning ability” (Nauert).
In the study of 63 first graders and kindergarten children, the researchers, Victoria Talwar and Kang Lee, have observed one school that was using corporal punishment while the other employed a different strategy of issuing verbal reprimands and time outs on errant children (Nauert). The researchers found that there were no changes in the overall performance depicted by the kindergarten children at both schools. However, first grade children illustrated different results. According to the researchers, the corporal punishment does not have an impact on the determination of behavior or learning ability in children. Furthermore, they have determined that, in a short term, corporal punishment may not have any visible negative outcomes. However, when it remains as a sole disciplinary action over a long period, it may not have any impact on the development of the child’s ability to inhibit bad behavior, learn or develop skills for solving problems (Nauert). Therefore, the teacher’s use of reasonable corporal punishment in a lenient manner will not affect the student; however, the constant use of corporal punishment may have mental repercussions that may linger in the child’s later life as an adult.
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Children depict different reactions in towards overcoming corporal punishment. If corporal punishment is carried out at home, and it affects the child’s behavior at school, then it can interfere with the learning ability. In the event that children are unable to learn their learning and cognitive skills will lag behind with respect to other students and could lead to one of two things, bullying or becoming an outcast; these can also occur if the kid is subjected to corporal punishment in the home environment (Pate and Gould 76).
There are other options for punishing children other than corporal punishment. The most common of which is time out. This form of punishment teaches the child that his or her action has some consequences without a physical action like a spanking. For any non-physical punishment to work one has to be consistent, firm and authoritative, and the rules set must be clear, concise and fit the action for which the child is being punished (Carter). Additionally, when administering time out punishment, teachers and parents should make an eye contact with children.
I submit that there are various side effects to corporal punishment; some are very severe, and others are temporary. The worst of the side effects is the occurrence of suicidal thoughts, aggression, and a child-parent relationship (Alvy). The aggression can lead to many things later on in life like being that bully at school or bullying their siblings. The use of corporal punishment against aggression is like fighting fire with fire. Spanking a child for bullying another is essentially doing the same thing by using that form of punishment (Arum 146). I believe children live what they learn; and, at this stage in their life, they are soaking up everything around them trying to find themselves. When the child is hit for doing a wrong thing, that cycle continues, because, the child now thinks it is ok to hit another if he or she feels that person is not doing right.
There are few side effects that linger on into adulthood. If a parent tends to go overboard on the spanking that could transfer to the child’s mental stability; and they could become abusive towards their own family. According to various studies, “33% of all individuals, who were abused or neglected in childhood, will abuse their own children in some manner” (Worell 222). Also, parents, who tend to be abusive, use their past as a guide to child rearing or an excuse for abusing their children.
Corporal punishment also has an impact on the today’s society “corporal punishment increases the use of violence in the society and legitimizes it in the eyes of succeeding generations” (UNICEF). This means that when kids see a parent or an adult hit or strike someone in anger, they think it is ok to do the same. If this problem is not fixed, or the parent does not teach that child right from wrong, it could lead to that kid being abusive towards others. There are also parenting classes open to the general public which can teach many other techniques to punishing your child (Alvy). Colleges, schools and hospitals have parenting classes that are available to the general public; furthermore, parenting classes can be taken online. These classes are proven to be effective; and now courts are ordering abusive parents to take these classes so they can learn how to be more effective without using corporal punishment.
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Discipline is important for the safety and physical well-being of the child as well as for his or her social, emotional, and cognitive development (Bitensky 12). However, discipline and punishment are not synonymous. Some parents and teachers rarely resort to punishment. Some punitive parents and teachers are poor disciplinarians. Discipline is administered with the aim of providing a child with outside control until he or she can develop the inner or self-control to function as a mature adult. Corporal punishment can impact students academically; as such, a harsh physical punishment does not improve the students’ academic or behavioral performance at school (Regolli, Hewitt and Delisi 224). Recent studies have shown that in the states where there is a high prevalence of corporal punishment; schools perform worse than those in the states where corporal punishment is prohibited. Spanking and other physical punishments for kids are linked with antisocial behavior in adults, including the increased aggression (Pate and Gould 71). Many children who have subjected to harsh disciplinary practices have problems with anger, fear, and depression.
Corporal punishment may cause a real injury or it can result to child abuse. Related to child abuse, the problem is that parents and teachers may apply corporal punishment solely because they are irritated or frustrated, not because corporal punishment is appropriate. In many occasions, a teacher may feel the need to hit someone and vent his or her frustration on an innocent child. I would not want my child to be punished for the simple reason that the teacher might be frustrated one day, especially if I had no control over how physically punished they had been.
If corporal punishment were to be used, there should be some guidelines administering them. The use of a more logical consequence constantly is among the critical guidelines of behavior management. Corporal punishment should not be administered in the high state of arousal resulting from frustration, anger, or some other emotions that could lend a spirit of retaliation towards students (Regolli, Hewitt, and Delisi 188). Corporal punishment should not be used when a more appropriate technique is available. Ideally, this would out rule the use of this punishment completely; however, there are many times where it has to be used. When administering corporal punishment, the person that is taking the action should punish the behavior and not the person.
At all times, corporal punishment should be applied in front of witnesses. If it has been used too often, it is considered that something else should be tried. Even though I do not agree with the corporal punishment practice, there should always be some guidelines when it is put in practice. Corporal punishment has the capacity to lower the child’s self-esteem; it also teaches children to be victims (Alvy). Additionally, it may lead a child to feeling lonely, stimulate anger and possibly cause students to run away from home. Exposure to violent behavior in childhood can have deep-seated and lasting effects on the attitudes towards violence (Bitensky 174). It is believed the more the child is subjected to violence in childhood, the greater his approval of violence in the adult life is.
Appropriate guidelines administering the restrictions and safeguards of this technique of punishment, it is sometimes admissible. Although there are some positive aspects of this practice, the research has shown that it is not better than any other form of punishment. Corporal punishment can affect a child physiologically. There are many cases of a serious injury to a student. Still being legal in the United States, corporal punishment should not always be used (Niolon); instead an alternative measure should be taken. I cannot deny that there are some advantages, but the times have changed. The modern generation has come up with some ways to administer behavioral problems more efficiently. Corporal punishment should not be used in classrooms today.
Corporal punishment has lasting effects on children either positively or negatively. The results of corporal punishment not only affect children; it has an adverse effect on parents and the society as well. The immediate aims of such punishments are to deter the errant behavior and encourage the child to behave more appropriately. However, corporal punishment is not the answer; there are other alternative ways. Now that we are starting to realize there are more ways to punish a child than to use corporal punishment, we must do what is reasonable and be better educated on the ways to discipline. We have to learn how to be firm and authoritative; give positive reinforcements, and finally watch what we say and do because children live what they have learned and emulate what is in their immediate surroundings.