Monday, August 18, 2008

For Those Corporal Punishment Advocates...

There is a myth that corporal punishment on children is fair and effective. The simple logic of the practice forces multitudes to accept its effectiveness as a necessary truth: "Spare the rod, spoil the child." However, the truth is rarely simple, and this is no exception.

The ACLU and Human Rights Watch have concluded that this "fair" punishment for a child's misbehavior is subject to cultural, racial, regional, gender, and socioeconomic factors that are completely outside the child's control, and that the motivation to use violence as a punishment solution on a misbehaving child is prompted by a whole lot more than a temper tantrum.

For instance, minor infractions, such as talking back, gum chewing, and violating school dress codes are "routinely" dealt with aggressively. Black and Native American students receive twice as much "paddling" as White children in both white and black majority districts, measuring the same transgressions. This is according to "A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in US Public Schools." If you follow the simple logic, boys are three times less spoiled than girls are for the same transgressions in schools that enforce this "fair" policy, along with children with special needs and disabilities.

The prevailing view of psychologists on the issue of the "effectiveness" of corporal punishment as an aversive strategy of behavior modification is best explained by the author of the report:
"Every public school needs effective methods of discipline, but beating kids teaches violence and it doesn't stop bad behavior," said Alice Farmer, Aryeh Neier Fellow at Human Rights Watch and the ACLU, and author of the report. "Corporal punishment discourages learning, fails to deter future misbehavior and at times even provokes it."
Despite all this, 21 states still enforce corporal punishment (legally) only because the simple logic of "common sense" resonates with the majority of their populations more than these hidden realities of its practice. And are the kids in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida and Missouri (to name a few) any less spoiled than kids in any of the majority of states where such measures are illegal? That still remains to be seen.

And in the end, the only impression that corporal punishment leaves on children other than welts and bruises, is further disengagement.

"The report shows that, as a result of paddling, many children are left injured, degraded, and disengaged from school."

There are better, more effective and fair ways to discipline. Violence begets violence--and nothing is more common sensical than that.

1 comment:

  1. The pro and anti spanking debate has been going on for decades, with common sense flying out of the window in the process.

    I have no problem with the ubiquitous parental smack, or even smacks on the bottom, for naughty or dangerous behaviour. All this mambie-pambie nonsense about talking reasonably to a disobedient kid, running riot in a supermarket, or even worse, in a busy street, where disobedience can get little Billy or Billy Jean killed in a heartbeat. Sorry mate, but democratic, reasoned arguments are for congress or parliament, not for the battle field or a busy high street. A good smack will get a kid’s attention in a crisis situation, and every trip to the high street is a crisis situation with an active, “I want this, I want that, kid.

    What is better? Your child in chronic agony in a trauma ward, or rubbing his or her bottom and thinking it would be better and safer to obey mum or dad’s authority next time.

    Having said all this, I agree with the countries that have banned caning, spanking and other forms of corporal punishment in schools. I also agree with my own country, Australia’s law, forbidding the use of punishment implements, straps, paddles, hairbrushes and the like.

    A parent or guardian may use physical punishment, on the bottom and with the hand only.

    Adults who use cruel or unusual punishments on children are abusers, and child abusers are inhuman scum... full stop.

    Having said all that... A parent like myself, can threaten to spank a disobedient child... and, if absolutely necessary, follow through with the requisite smacking... to show he or she means business.

    My own child is eight... I have made lots of threats, but have actually administered only three on the spot spankings. All in busy streets where my child knows that my orders are to be obeyed without question, the second they are issued... For her safety and my peace of mind.

    Hope we got that one sorted out.