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Discipline: Can corporal punishment help discipline children?

Pro Con

Corporal punishment is a good tool for It is dubious that corporal punishment

disciplining unruly children Walter Williams. helps discipline children. Even the power of

"Making a Case for Corporal Punishment". Bnet. physical punishment to teach a child the difference

Sept 13, 1999: "Regardless of what the experts between right and wrong is dubious; a young child

preached, the undeniable fact is the 'uncivilized' may learn that the adult is displeased, but not why.

practice of whipping children produced more Spanking will cause a state of extreme distress and

civilized young people. Youngsters didn't direct foul confusion which makes it less likely they will analyse

language to, or use it in the presence of, teachers their behaviour with clarity. In older children

and other adults. In that 'uncivilized' era, disciplined at school, a physical punishment is likely

assaulting a teacher or adult never would have to provoke resentment and further misbehaviour.

crossed our minds. Today, foul language and

Corporal punishment can lower a child's
assaults against teachers are routine in many
IQ "Child Corporal Punishment: Spanking. The anti-
schools. For some kinds of criminal behavior, I
spanking position". Religious tolerance: "Spanking
think we'd benefit from having punishment along
lowers a child's IQ: A study at the University of New
the lines of Singapore's caning as a part of our
Hampshire, released in 1998-JUL, found that
judicial system."
spanking children apparently slows down their

Corporal punishment can ethically help intellectual development. 3 A study of 960 children

save a child's future Walter Williams. "Making a found an average 4 point reduction in IQ among

Case for Corporal Punishment". Bnet. Sept 13, students, from and average IQ of 102 (above

1999: "Let's think about cruelty. Today, it's not average) for children who are not spanked, to an

uncommon for young criminals to be arrested, average IQ 98 (below average) for who are. A

counseled and released to the custody of a parent reduction of 4 points is enough to have a significant

20 or 30 times before they spend one night in jail. negative functional effect on the students. More

Such a person is a very good candidate for later information."

serving a long prison sentence or, worse, facing the

Corporal punishment hampers children's
death penalty. If you interviewed such a person
creativity Ms. Dawn Walker, executive director of
and asked: "Thinking back to when you started
the Canadian Institute of Child Health commented:
your life of crime, would you have preferred a
"We know that children who are under the threat of
punishment, such as caning, that might have set
violence or aggression develop a fight-or-flight
you straight or be where you are today?" I'd bet
response system that has an impact on creativity
my retirement money that he'd say he wished
and imagination, both of which could influence their
someone had caned some sense into him. That
IQ...Children need discipline but not hitting."[3]
being the case, which is more cruel: caning or
allowing such a person to become a criminal?" Corporal punishment creates anti-social

behavior. Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, University of

Corporal punishment can make a valuable
Michigan. "Even minimal amounts of spanking can
example of a student Oscar Goodman: "I also
lead to an increased likelihood in antisocial behavior
believe in a little bit of corporal punishment going
by children."[4]
back to the days of yore, where examples have to

be shown."[1] Corporal punishment fosters

violence in society.
General statements in support of corporal

punishment Mark Benedict, Christian Family General statements against corporal

Foundations: "I also believe the scriptural reference punishment Psychologist H. Stephen Glenn said

to the 'rod' best corresponds to a switch or perhaps "Corporal punishment is the least effective method

a flexible paddle."[2] [of discipline]. Punishment reinforces a failure

identity. It reinforces rebellion, resistance, revenge

and resentment. And, what people who spank

children will learn is that it teaches more about you

than it does about them that the whole goal is to

crush the child. It's not dignified, and it's

not respectful

Physical damage: Can corporal punishment cause physical damage?

Pro Con

Physical injuries only occur in abusive Corporal punishment can cause serious

corporal punishment. Serious physical injuries physical damage The actual physical damage

only occur where disciplined, strategic corporal inflicted via corporal punishment on children can be

punishment becomes child abuse. There is a strict horrifying. Examples can be found of students

line between the two (see above) and to ignore it is needing treatment for broken arms, nerve and

deliberately misleading. muscle damage, and cerebral haemorrhage.

Spanking of the buttocks can cause damage to the

Corporal punishment does not foster
sciatic nerve and therefore the leg to which it leads.
violent tendencies.
Abuse: Does corporal punish invite abuse?

[] []

Pro Con

Abuses do not demonstrate corporal Corporal punishment often escalates to

punishment is inherently wrong While it is true child abuse "Child Corporal Punishment: Spanking.

that corporal punishment can be abused, this does The anti-spanking position". Religious tolerance: "It

not demonstrate that it is always abused, or that it can escalate to abuse: Because a spanking works

is inherently abusive. If it is used abusively, than for a while, the parent often repeats the spanking

measures should be taken to limit such abuse, whenever the child misbehaves. Corporal

instead of eliminating the practice altogether, which punishment may then become a standard response

would be an over-reaction. to any misbehavior. This can lead to increasingly

frequent and harsher spanking which can exceed

There is a difference between corporal
the "reasonable force" threshold and become
punishment and child abuse. Corporal
punishment is designed to punish specific acts of

significant misbehavior and delinquency. It is not a Corporal punishment of children is

wanton and unreasonable act of violence. Child analogous to wife-beating. Comments by

abuse, on the contrary, is the unjustified and Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education

unreasoned beating of children. The act of child- (PTAVE) from their website at

abuse is not meant to punish a child, but is inflicted "Spanking does for a child's development what

without restraint or concern for the general welfare wife-beating does for a marriage."[6]

of a child. The intention of corporal punishment, on

Corporal punishment often over-responds
the contrary, is meant to instill a level of discipline
to innocent child behavior Jan Hunt. "Ten
in a child that is necessary to their future. It is in
Reasons Not to Hit Your Kids". The Natural Child
the child's best interest, whereas child-abuse is
Project: "2. In many cases of so-called 'bad
clearly not.
behavior', the child is simply responding in the only

Not clear whether corporal punishment way he can, given his age and experience, to

increases abuse David Benatar. "Corporal neglect of basic needs. Among these needs are:

Punishment Social Theory and Practice". Social proper sleep and nutrition, treatment of hidden

Theory and Practice. Summer 1998: "Clearly there allergy, fresh air, exercise, and sufficient freedom to

are instances of abuse and of abusive physical explore the world around him. But his greatest need

punishment. But that is insufficient to demonstrate is for his parents' undivided attention. In these busy

even a correlation between corporal punishment times, few children receive sufficient time and

and abuse, and a fortiori a causal relationship. attention from their parents, who are often too

Research into possible links between corporal distracted by their own problems and worries to

punishment and abuse has proved inconclusive so treat their children with patience and empathy. It is
far. Some studies have suggested that abusive surely wrong and unfair to punish a child for

parents use corporal punishment more than responding in a natural way to having important

nonabusive parents, but other studies have shown needs neglected. For this reason, punishment is not

this not to be the case.(7) The findings of one only ineffective in the long run, it is also clearly

study,8 conducted a year after corporal punishment unjust."

by parents was abolished in Sweden, suggested

Corporal punishment induces fear and
that Swedish parents were as prone to serious
despair in children Irvin Wolkoff. "Spanked child
abuse of their children as were parents in the
can become self-loathing adult." The Toronto Star.
United States, where corporal punishment was (and
November 29, 1999: "The message a toddler gets
is) widespread. These findings are far from decisive,
from a slap or spanking is that a parent or other
but they caution us against hasty conclusions about
loved and trusted adult is prepared to induce pain
the abusive effects of corporal punishment."
and even do physical harm to force unquestioning

Corporal punishment should be limited, obedience. That's terrifying to a little kid...However

but not abandoned David Benatar. "Corporal well-intentioned, a slap registers as the shattering

Punishment Social Theory and Practice". Social of the whole deal between parent and child. Young

Theory and Practice. Summer 1998: "Opponents of children are left awash in feelings of fear, shame,

the corporal punishment of children are rightly rage, hostility, self-destructiveness and betrayal

critical of its extensive use and the severity with that they can't yet resolve or manage."[7]

which it is all too often inflicted. They have been at

pains to show that corporal punishment is not used

merely as a last resort, but is inflicted regularly and

for the smallest of infractions.(1) They have also

recorded the extreme harshness of many instances

of corporal punishment.(2) [...] I have no hesitation

in joining the opposition to such practices, which

are correctly labeled as child abuse. Where I believe

that opponents of corporal punishment are wrong is

in saying that physical punishment should never be


Sexual abuse: Is corporal punishment associated with sexual abuse?

Pro Con
Risks of sexual abuse with spanking can Corporal punishment on the buttocks is a

be regulated. David Benatar. "Corporal sexual violation Child Corporal Punishment: The

Punishment Social Theory and Practice". Social anti-spanking position": "Slapping or any other type

Theory and Practice. Summer 1998: "It is, of of force used on the buttocks is a sexual violation:

course, a concern that some parents or teachers The buttocks are an erogenous zone of the human

might derive sexual gratification from beating body. Their nerve system is connected to the body's

children, but is it a reason to eliminate or ban the sexual nerve centers. Slapping them can

practice? Someone might suggest that it is, if the involuntarily trigger feelings of sexual pleasure

anticipated sexual pleasure led to beatings that which become mixed with the pain. This can lead to

were inappropriate--either because children were confusion in the child's mind which influences the

beaten when they should not have been, or if the way in which they express their sexuality as

punishment were administered in an improper adults."

manner. However, if this is the concern, surely the

fitting response would be to place limitations on the

use of the punishment and, at least in schools, to

monitor and enforce compliance."

Effective discipline helps children learn to control their behavior so that they act
according to their ideas of what is right and wrong, not because they fear punishment.
For example, they are honest because they think it is wrong to be dishonest, not
because they are afraid of getting caught.

The purpose of punishment is to stop a child from doing what you don't want - and using
a painful or unpleasant method to stop him.

There are basically four kinds of punishment

physical punishment - slapping, spanking, switching, paddling, and using a belt or

hair brush.

verbal punishment - shaming, ridiculing, using cruel words, saying "I don't love

withholding rewards - "You can't watch TV if you don't do your homework."

penalties - "You broke the window so you will have to pay for it with money from
your allowance."

The first two kinds of punishment, physical and verbal, are not considered to be effective
discipline methods. The other two, withholding rewards and giving penalties, can be
used either as effective discipline methods or as punishment - depending on how
parents administer them.

Teacher authority: Does corporal punishment represent a failure of teacher


[] []

[Edit] [Edit]

Pro Con

Corporal punishment does not represent Corporal punishment represents failure to

teacher failures David Benatar. "Corporal engage students The Christian Science Monitor,

Punishment Social Theory and Practice". Social 1989-MAR-21: "The fundamental need of American

Theory and Practice. Summer 1998: "there is a big education is to find ways of engaging today's

difference between [...] a failure in the pupil, and a children in the thrill of learning. Fear of pain has no

failure in the teacher. In either case it is true, in place in that process."[10]

some sense, that the teacher failed to discourage

Corporal punishment reflects breakdown
the child from doing wrong--failed to prevent failure
of communication American Medical Association,
in the child. However, it is not a failure for which
(1985): "Infliction of pain or discomfort, however
the teacher necessarily is responsible. I am well
minor, is not a desirable method of communicating
aware that the responsibility for children's
with children."[11]
wrongdoing is all too often placed exclusively at the

door of children themselves, without due attention

Corporal punishment distracts from
to the influences to which they are subjected.
teaching and training. Bill Gothard: "We don't
However, there is a danger that in rejecting this
focus on corporal punishment. We focus on teaching
incorrect evaluation, teachers (and parents) will be
and training."[12]
blamed for all shortcomings in children."

Corporal punishment helps protect

teachers and adults Walter Williams. "Making a

Case for Corporal Punishment". Bnet. Sept 13,

1999: "During my youth, I might have been doing

something mischievous, such as throwing stones.

An adult would come over to me and ask, 'Does

your mother know you're out here throwing

stones?' I'd reply, 'No sir or no ma'am,' and hope

that the matter ended there. [...] Today, it's quite

different. An adult correcting a youngster risks

being cursed and possibly assaulted. That's a sad

commentary. Adults are justifiably afraid of

children. Do we Americans as parents, teachers,

principals and others in positions of authority have

the guts and willpower to control our youngsters?"

The Disproportionate Use of Corporal Punishment

Students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately
subjected to corporal punishment, hampering their access to a supportive
learning environment. According to the Department of Education, while
African Americans make up 17.1 percent of public school students
nationwide, they accounted for 35.6 percent of those who were paddled
during the 2006-2007 school year.[8] In A Violent Education and Impairing
Education, two joint reports published by the ACLU and HRW detailing the
effects of corporal punishment in public schools, interviewees noted the
disproportionate application of corporal punishment:

One Mississippi high school student described the administration of

corporal punishment in her school this way: "every time you walk
down the hall you see a black kid getting whipped. I would say out of
the whole school there's only about three white kids who have gotten

A Mississippi teacher also noted the racial disparity in the

administration of corporal punishment: "I've heard this said at my
school and at other schools: This child should get less whips, it'll
leave marks.' Students that are dark-skinned, it takes more to let their
skin be bruised. Even with all black students, there is an imbalance:
darker-skinned students get worse punishment. This really affected
me, being a dark-skinned person myself."[10]

Evidence shows that students with disabilities are also disproportionally

subjected to corporal punishment. The Department of Education has
reported that although students with disabilities constitute 13.7 percent of
all public school students, they make up 18.8 percent of those who are
subjected to corporal punishment.[11] In many of these cases, students were
punished for exhibiting behaviors related to their disabilities, such as autism
or Tourette's syndrome.[12] The effects of corporal punishment on students
with disabilities can dramatically impact their behavior and hamper their
academic performance. In Impairing Education, parents and grandparents of
students with disabilities noted the changes in behavior and barriers to
educational achievement stemming from the use of corporal punishment:
A grandmother of a student who has Asperger's syndrome withdrew
him from his Oklahoma school in part because of the hostile
environment stemming from frequent use of corporal punishment: "It
made him much more introverted. He very much didn't want to go to
school . . . No one's supposed to go to school to be tortured, school is
supposed to be fun." [

A mother of a student with autism reported that her son's behavior

changed after he was struck in his Florida school: "He's an avoider by
nature, before he was never aggressive. Now, he struggles with anger;
right after the incidents he'd have anger explosions."[14]

Hitting any student should be an unacceptable practice, but the

disproportionate application of corporal punishment further undermines the
educational environment for minority groups and students with disabilities.
[15] A federal prohibition on corporal punishment in public schools is
necessary to protect students from the discriminatory impact and the
academic harms which it brings.

Why Punishment Doesn't Work

Physical punishment usually doesn't work for several reasons. First, it makes the child
hate himself and others. Physical punishment makes the child think that there must be
something awfully wrong with him to be treated so badly. If children think they are "bad,"
then they will act "bad." A vicious cycle is formed. The child who has been treated
harshly has no reason to be good. Or he may be good just to keep from being punished
and not learn to be good because he thinks it is the right thing to do.

Children who have been spanked feel that they have paid for their misbehavior and are
free to misbehave again. In other words, spanking frees the child from feelings of
remorse which are needed to prevent future misbehavior.

Parents who use physical punishment are setting an example of using violence to settle
problems or solve conflicts, Children imitate their parents' behavior. When parents use
physical punishment, children are more likely to use violent acts to settle their conflicts
with others.

Another disadvantage of using physical punishment is that parents have to find other
discipline methods when the child becomes as tall and as strong as the parent! Why not
start using effective discipline methods when the child is young?

Where reward and punishment focus on the child, encouragement and reality discipline
target the act. Reward and punishment teaches the child to be "good" as long as we are
looking. When rewards are our chief way of motivating children we run the risk of
creating "carrot seekers": children who are always looking for and expecting a reward
every time they do something good or right. If we give a child money for making his bed
this week, he'll wonder where his money is next week. Instead of being self-motivated by
a desire to cooperate or help other family members, we have taught the child to look to
us for his source of motivation.
Corporal punishment or physical punishment is a punishment intended to cause physical pain on a person. It
is most often used where there is a substantial disparity of power between punisher and punished.[original research?]

Corporal punishment is commonly practiced on minors, especially in home and also school settings, usually
employing more modest forms. Common methods in this regard often include spanking or paddling.

It is however also used on adults, particularly prisoners in some countries. In history most cultures have practiced
corporal punishment on adults in settings of imprisonment or slavery. Frequently employed methods
are flagellation and caning. In some countries bastinado is still practiced on prisoners as well.[1]