People have always asked how one can discipline a child in an effective way. For discipline to be considered effective, it must have certain elements. One, an environment of learning that is positive and has good relationships and secondly, it must aim at strengthening positive behaviors and weakening the undesired ones. The most common discipline approach in doing away with undesired behaviors is what is called punishment and which involves using of negative stimulus to eliminate unwanted behaviors. One can punish in two ways; by inflicting physical pain and reprimanding verbally (American Academy of Pediatrics, 1998).
Some have argued that punishment creates an environment of fear and anxiety and thus making learning process difficult, impacting negatively on the students’ performance (Human Rights Watch, 2010). Schools are the institutions where teachers have personal relationships with their students; knowing them personally and are likely to care so much for them than any one else other than their parents. Punishments from this point of view can be considered to be playing a major role in educating the students.
When punishing these students, the teacher would be telling them in other words that, punishment can be imposed by anybody including the state and not by parents or loved ones only (Benator,2001). Some have claimed that corporal punishment equals physical abuse of the students but there is very insufficient evidence to conclude that. Though some teachers and some parents use physical punishment on children that does not allow people to generalize on the issue and rule out physical punishment completely. Some people have also argued that, physical punishment leads to degradation of students making them become ashamed of themselves.
When talking about the element of shame; children have less capacity to be ashamed (Benator, 2001). Physical punishment has also been associated with some negative psychological effects, for example anxiety and fear. Although there is some evidence to prove this, they have not been able to prove that corporal or physical punishment that is not used frequently has the same effects. All what these researches claimed to have been done are not conclusive and are not based on experiments but reports given by people (Benator, 2001).
One of the main reasons for objections to physical punishment and any other form of punishment is that it compromises the relationships between teachers and students and as a result, students will tend to fear their teachers. It has also been claimed that learning cannot take place in such an environment since students are being subjected to a kind of tyrannical authority where they have to accept the authority without questioning it (Benator, 2001). This is not the case; learning would be more effective since students are not allowed to challenge the views of the teachers and what they are taught.
When they are beaten into accepting the authority of the teachers, it will be very unlikely for them to challenge their authority. Moreover it depends on what grounds a child is punished. If a student is punished wrongly, their relationship with the teacher will suffer serious consequences, but if one is punished for a genuine wrong doing, for example stealing or bullying, the punishment will be received positively for it will be sending a message that, whatever the student was doing was not right and thus a child will be able to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong (Benator, 2001).
Despite all these arguments, critics have come out very strongly against punishment and they still maintain that, an environment full of fear and anxiety is not good for learning. So many researches have been done on the issue and it has emerged that, punishments actually inflict fear on students. They will develop fear of loosing their possessions which may be taken from them, fear of their privileges being withheld, fear for their safety among others. After being punished, some of them do not usually understand why they are being punished or how they wronged the authority.
Sometimes these punishments send a message to children that, one is allowed to inflict pain on others (Kid’s Development Website, 2010). It doesn’t matter what kind of punishment one subjects a child to. The main message that it sends is that, when one breaks rules, he or she will have to put up with some unpleasant consequences. They do not teach the offenders why the rules are there and their significance and why they should follow them to the letter. Another short coming of punishments is that, they do not make the children learn how to be responsible or pay attention to what others feel or think (Kid’s Development Website, 2010).
Sometimes, these punishments, even though they are aimed at the well being of the child, some are usually administered wrongly, losing their effectiveness. It has been discovered that some of them are usually used indiscriminately. Some verbal reprimands are usually used when the time is not appropriate and at the end of the day, they are used to slander the character of the offender instead of correcting, which is the main objective (American Academy for Pediatrics, 1998).
Some punishments such as the physical ones range from severe ones, for example slapping, beating, and burning among others all which may amount to physical abuse. Physical punishment has always been considered to be ineffective especially when used more frequently. Some of them have also led to physical injury. These kinds of punishments are also said to increase agitation and aggressiveness among students. It has also been found that, the use of physical punishment affect the children even after reaching adult hood because they tend to develop into angry adults (American Academy for Pediatrics, 1998).
Many people use punishments believing in the theory that young people must go through some kind of pain in order to be responsible. When punishments are used like this, they force submission but not commitment. In other words, they do the opposite of what they were intended for. Some people think that punishments do work since the bad behaviors tend to stop immediately one is subjected to punishment; this is not the case especially when the offender does not understand why he is being punished (Marvin Marshal, nd).
Another thing that has proven that punishments do not work is that in so many schools, more punishments are being prescribed the moment they fail and as a result, the offender ends up not caring anymore after being through so many lectures, being thrown out of class all the time, sent away from school, suspended or expelled. Fear and anxiety produced by punishment do not have positive long term effects on the student. Threatening students with punishment will only make them to comply for a short time but only when the threat is present and this does not change the person in a positive way (Marvin Marshal, nd).
Some of these threats on students in class are not relevant especially when they are outside the class with other students. Moreover, the punishments are not consistent in that, what one teacher considers as an offence, does not apply to the other teachers. Those feelings associated with punishment such as fear, are not helpful when it comes to the learning process. Sometimes, the student will do something to see how the teacher will react, a fact that discourages one to learn (Marvin Marshal, nd).
In addition, they tend to make students learn what their teachers want, and a student will do exactly that in order to please them. Other students develop feelings of low self esteem. These punishments do not make any one learn how to modify their behaviors in that, the students will always focus on how to defend their behaviors when it comes to punishment and sometimes try to look for ways on how to cover their mistakes. The truth of the matter is that, the one who gets satisfied after punishment is the punisher and he or she mostly uses punishment to show his or her authority, not to discipline (Marvin Marshal, nd).
Punishment also impacts negatively to the learning environment. It has been observed that, the states which still encourage corporal or physical punishment in their schools perform poorly academically compared to those which have banned them. Those students who have been subjected to those kinds of punishment have reported cases of anger and depression and as a result, they tend to withdraw themselves from school activities. These punishments make students to have difficulties in concentrating in class, making them perform poorly.
It has also made them develop negative attitude towards school (Human Rights Watch, 2010). Sometimes, these punishments put parents and teachers in awkward positions whereby, they have to decide between the students well being and their advancement academically. Some teachers who find themselves in schools that encourage physical punishment sometimes hesitate to send misbehaving students out of class because they fear that they will be beaten up. Physical punishment does not only affect those who are punished but also those who are not.
The moment these kinds of physical punishments are used in schools, they create a threatening atmosphere that affects all students negatively especially on their performances. Victims of these punishments will sometimes be violent and even disruptive and at the end, they will disturb the learning of other students, including heir own, making learning process difficult in the long run (Human rights watch, 2010). Spanking as a form of punishment is also known to affect intelligence as it reduces it.
Fear and anxiety are known to slow the cognitive development of the child making the presence of neurons in the brain to be very few (Pytel, 2009). In conclusion, it has emerged that, even though punishment is aimed at righting the wrongs, sometimes, it is not the case and it may end up worsening the situation especially of the individuals facing the punitive measures. The fear and anxiety that is usually elicited by these punishments are not good for the learning process, irrespective of the kind of punishments that are used .
So long as they produce these kinds of feelings then; they are not good for students. Teachers should be more concerned on educating the children, not punishing them. References American Academy of Pediatrics. (1998). Guidance for effective discipline. Retrieved from http://aappolicy. aappublications. org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;101/4/723 Benator, D. (2001). Corporal punishment. Retrieved from http://www. corpun. com/benatar. htm Human Rights Watch. (2010). Corporal punishment in schools and its effects on academic success. Retrieved from http://www. hrw.
org/en/news/2010/04/14/corporal-punishment-schools-and-its-effect-academic-success-joint-hrwaclu-statement Kids Development Website. (2010). Effects of punishment on children. Retrieved from http://www. kidsdevelopment. co. uk/EffectsOfPunishmentOnChildren. html Marvin Marshal. (nd). Discipline need not be stressful, discipline need not be negative. Retrieved from http://www. aboutdiscipline. com/ Pytel, B. (2009). Spanking has negative effects on intelligence. Retrieved from http://educationalissues. suite101. com/article. cfm/spanking_has_negative_effect_on_intelligence
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