Corporal punishment is the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable (Miller, Vandome, & McBrewster, 2009). Corporal punishment can be divided into three categories, these include: judicial, domestic and school. For the purpose of this essay we will be focusing on school corporal punishment, the advantages and guidelines to follow when using corporal punishment and the disadvantages and effects on children when child abuse is used in the name of corporal punishment.
According to Vockell (1991), “Corporal punishment is the infliction of physical pain, contingent upon the occurrence of a misbehavior” (p. 278). It is a very controversial topic that is raised amongst educators across the nation.
There are always advantages and disadvantages when hitting a child in the name of corporal punishment and the techniques used when punishing the child. Quite a few people support corporal punishment as an effective way of disciplining a child, while a large number of people believe corporal punishment is a cruel and inhumane way to deal with the child.
Sometimes all children need is a little spanking to set them straight, help them see the errors of their ways, but, how would you know when you’re crossed the line from disciplining the child to committing child abuse. According to an article by Clark (2004):
John Wilson suggests there are six advantages of corporal punishment: cheap and easy to administer, effective deterrent, effective reform, adjustable pain, fair: because of similar dislike of pain, no permanent damage (p.
363). Some people who support corporal punishment can see only the positive effects of these advantages. Out of these six advantages and for the purpose of this essay, we will be focusing on five of the advantages. The first advantage of corporal punishment is that “it is cheap and easy to administer.” This simply means that, it will cost less to spank a child instead of a long period of imprisonment and if one does not care about the “niceties” about hitting a child, it can be easily administered. The second advantage that was stated by Wilson is that it is an “effective deterrent.” Educators believe that corporal punishment is the only language children understand because it is perceived as unpleasant. This may sound like a disadvantage, but, punishment by its own definition involves unpleasant stimulations. Children will likely keep to the rules govern by the institution because they would fear the physical pain and humiliation.
The third advantage stated by Wilson is “effective reform,” this is the disciplining or reforming of a wrongdoer for misbehavior. As with effective deterrent, effective reform, also uses fear of physical pain and humiliation for attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable, to help improve or mend one’s ways. Another one of Wilson’s advantages states that “it is fair for all, since all people are similar in their dislike of pain” (Clark, 2004, p. 367). The recipients of physical pain knows how much it hurts to be spanked, paddled, canned, flogged or smacked, so they would try to stay clear of the obvious consequence. The final advantage states that there is “no permanent damage: when using corporal punishment. The recipients will learn self discipline when being administer corporal punishment as long as you follow the guidelines used in the institutions. These guidelines are put in place to help educators be responsible when disciplining a child using corporal punishment.
Simply put, the guidelines are a “How to manual” when administering corporal punishment. So here are some main guidelines of behavior management for corporal punishment. Firstly, educators should not use corporal punishment when a more appropriate technique is available, but there are always eases where sparing the rod can also spoil the child. If corporal punishment must be administered, educators should have a clear head. Teachers should not take out there anger and frustration out on the child. Punishment must be administered soon after the offence. Children tend to forget the reason why they are being punished after a long period of time has passed, making them believe that they should not be punished. It is also best to specify the behavior being punished. Educators must administer corporal punishment dispassionately. Teachers tend to spank or hit a child more aggressively because they might not like the child as a person. Not to mention, teachers should be bother when they are administering corporal punishment to any child.
Administer corporal punishment in front of appropriate witnesses, these witnesses should be regarded as reliable and truthful in case of litigation. And, corporal punishment should be carried out with appropriate confidentiality, because, what good would it do to humiliate the child. And finally, make sure you follow all the rules and regulations prescribed by the school system, this is to assure you have the support and an effective defense, should a legal challenge arise. But with every advantage there is an equal disadvantage. Most people believe that corporal punishment in schools is not morally acceptance. This is where the disadvantages occur. According to Vockell (1991), “punishment is not likely to be logically related to the misbehavior” (p. 279). This just means that the students who are punished for misbehavior not worthy of punishment are victims of artificial punishment. Artificial punishment simply means, using another means of punishment instead of corporal punishment. The second disadvantage is that physical punishment often models socially inappropriate behavior to the child.
According to Vockell (1991), a solid finding from child-rearing research states that, children who are spanked more often than others are more likely to hit other children and act out aggressively while growing up. Parents and teachers need to reason with children to make them better understand that there are consequences to their actions. The children should know that it hurts the adults more than its hurts them to be spanked. And, by explaining this to the children, they would not grow up solving their problems by hitting people that annoy them. Another disadvantage is that corporal punishment may inflict real injury to the child that can be related to child abuse. Teachers can sometimes take out there anger and frustration on children in the name of corporal punishment, leaving them with broken bones, torn ligaments, whiplash injury, blindness and in some cases death, just to name a few.
Lastly, because of the injuries that children can sometimes sustain in the name of corporal punishment, litigation can occur. In the face of these injuries lawsuits are filed prohibiting corporal punishment in schools. Educators who believe that corporal punishment should be banned from school institution think that the physical and psychological effect on children far outweighs the advantages of corporal punishment. The arguments that are raised against corporal punishment said that is leads to abuse, it is degrading and humiliating, it is psychologically damaging and it teaches the wrong lesson. As always, there are instances where, corporal punishment can lead to abuse. A teacher maybe angry and frustrated at home and take out there vindictiveness and retaliation on the child. These teachers would then be crossing the line to physical abuse.
Corporal punishment can be a degrading and humiliating form of punishment, because it involves the “direct and intense power to the body” especially if this punishment is carried out in front of the child’s peers. Corporal punishment can be psychologically damaging to a child. It causes submissiveness in the child affected by it, making them easy prey for predators who might sexually exploit them. No one can expect a child who is conditioned for corporal punishment to simply say no to a molester. And lastly, corporal punishment can sometimes teach the wrong lessons to children.
According to Benatar (2001), “punishing a wrongdoer by inflicting physical pain sends the message that violence is an appropriate way to settle differences or to respond to problems. In conclusion, the arguments for corporal punishment might be practical and the only way for a wrongdoer to learn discipline and respect, but, at the end of the day, according to Europe (2007), “hitting people is wrong and children are people too” (5 p.). The effects on the children when using corporal punishment can be most damaging to their physical and emotional self. Even with school systems guidelines, teachers still commit child abuse in the name of corporal punishment.
B., P. (2006-2011). Phil For Humanity. Retrieved April 25, 2011, from The Pros and Cons Of Corporal Punishment: http://www.philforhumanity.com/Corporal_Punishment.html Benatar, D. (2001, October). Corpun. Retrieved April 25, 2011, from Corporal Punishment: http://www.corpun.com/benatar.htm Clark, J. (2004). Aganist the Corporal Punishment of Children. Cambridge Journal of Education , 363. Europe, C. o. (2007). Abolishing Corporal Punishment of Children: questions and answers. Council of Europe. Miller, F. P., Vandome, A. F., & McBrewster, J. (2009). Corporal Punishment. VDM Publishing House Ltd. Vockell, E. L. (1991). Corporal Punishment: The Pros and Cons. The Clearing House , 278-283.