To parents and advocates who favor corporal punishment, the formula is simple: spank a child for doing something wrong and he will understand that he will get spanked if he does it again, hence he will not do it anymore. The aim of this paper is to address the theory, the logic, and the social justice of corporal punishment as a form of discipline on children by their parents in support of the stand that parents should under no circumstances administer corporal punishment to their children. The theory described at the beginning of this paper has its roots in behavioral psychology (Gendry 85).
This theory is based upon recognition of stimulus and the subsequent action that the stimulus calls for (Gendry 86). While the effectiveness of this theory has been greatly supported by innumerable studies in psychology, what remains to be true is that this theory connects the subsequent action to the stimuli and not to the reason behind the stimuli. Simply put, when a parent physically scolds the child for doing something wrong, the child does not automatically understand why the act was wrong, he just understands that he got hurt from doing it and might get hurt again.
This means that the punishment administered does not make the child learn the wrongness of the act. This is the limiting nature that the behavioral theory is encapsulated in. Hence, it becomes the fear of getting spanked that drives children to obey the rules that parents bring upon them, and not an understanding of the value of those rules (Dowshen et. al. 42). This initial argument regarding to the weakness of the theory that supports corporal punishment in terms of teaching the correct values trickles further to the discussion of the logic of corporal punishment.
If we follow the logic that corporal punishment dictates, it connotes that the absence of the punishment means that absence of what makes the act wrong. Hence if the child grows up to a situation in which his parents cannot punish him anymore, he would no longer have any need to obey the rules. Since the development of a child to adulthood does tend towards separation and freedom from parental authority at some point in time, this shows that the logic behind corporal punishment naturally leads to a situation where the child no longer needs to follow the rules and is not left with any incentive to follow them.
This clearly illustrates the ineffectiveness of authoritarian models of punishment as supported by Baumrind’s conclusion that the minimal or non use of corporal punishment in disciplining the child and instead raising the child “in a responsive and supportive parent-child relationship” (414) is the best way of instilling genuine discipline. Lastly, in examining the social justice in corporal punishment, we consider the position of the parent as guardian of the child.
Being the child’s guardian gives the parent the responsibility to see to the child’s best interests, it does not under any pretext give the parent the right to subject the child to any harm. While there are those that argue that “tough love” cannot be considered as harm, they fail to understand the psychological dangers that parents who spank their children are unknowingly subjecting them to.
For one, research as shown that the harshness of punishment given to children is directly related to the child’s inclination to use violent punishment on his own children when he grows up (Herzberger & Tennen 317). Clearly, the formula does not work in both theory and logic in developing children to become disciplined citizens. What is worse is that it actually subjects children to risks that they should never have to face.
Subject: Corporal punishment,
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 24 December 2016
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