Arguments For and Against the Use of Corporal Punishment in Schools
Corporal punishment in schools is an emotive and controversial topic for many people. The arguments for and against mainly revolve around the ethics and practicalities of using it as a way of maintaining student discipline.
People who are for corporal punishment generally take the view that provided it can be properly regulated, it can be an effective way of maintaining discipline in an educational setting, while those who are against it generally view it as an ineffective method of maintaining discipline and/or unethical.
The idea behind the practice is that pain is deliberately inflicted on a student, usually by a teacher, as a punishment for an offense that has been committed. As well as serving as a punishment, the punishment is also intended to act as a deterrent against future rule breaking.
Typically the punishment is performed by striking the pupil repeatedly with some sort of implement, such as hitting the palm of their hand with a ruler. Paddling is common way of administering corporal punishment in the USA.
Corporal punishment in schools is prohibited in over 30 countries globally, including Canada, Kenya, South Africa, New Zealand and most of Europe. The United States tends to be spilt along North-South lines as far as allowing it is concerned, with Northern states generally prohibiting the practice and Southern states generally allowing it.
In answer to the question: Should corporal punishment in schools be allowed? Here are the main arguments for and against that people use.
4 Arguments For Corporal Punishment in Schools
- Because it works. That is why it has featured as a traditional tool of teachers for so long. There is no other equivalent that acts as both a punishment and deterrent in the same way. The psychological and physical immediacy of a short sharp shock is simply the most effective way to affect behavior in some circumstances.
- As long as it is properly regulated, there should be no problems with it being used in schools. Some of the negative stories used by people opposed to corporal punishment are the result of failures in regulation and leadership, not corporal punishment itself.
- It can be administered quickly. The pupil can then continue with his or her learning, unlike other forms of punishment, such as suspension from school when they miss school time and their education is damaged.
- It is also an effective use of staff time, unlike other forms of punishment, such as detentions, when hours of staff time can be wasted supervising students who have misbehaved.
Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.— Mahatma Gandhi
3 Arguments Against Corporal Punishment in Schools
- It is a form of abuse against children - psychologically, as well as physically. It also sends out the message that violence is socially acceptable, which is entirely the wrong message to be giving out.
- There is no evidence that schools who use it are any more disciplined or orderly than ones that don’t. If anything, the effects of it seem to be more negative than positive and serve to undermine the teacher-pupil relationship.
- Where it is being used, there is evidence that corporal punishment is not used in an even-handed way. For instance, statistically speaking, boys tend to be given the punishment more than girls, and African-Americans seem to be given the punishment more often than white school children for similar offenses.
- Physical discipline fixes a behavioral problem in the short term, but can cause psychological harm or make the child more aggressive in the longer term, according to many child psychologists. Building a trusting relationship and building good discipline takes time and energy but is worth it in the long run.
I think I wish I had never spanked my children, but I have. And they remember every instance like they tattooed it on their palms. I think it's a terrible lesson, to use physical punishment to make a point about not behaving, not being kind to their siblings, to other people. I mean that's just absurd. But I've lost it, I understand it.— Ayelet Waldman
Corporal punishment is as humiliating for him who gives it as for him who receives it; it is ineffective besides. Neither shame nor physical pain have any other effect than a hardening one.— Ellen Key
School Corporal Punishment and the United States
The legality of corporal punishment is decided at a state level in the USA and so laws vary in different parts of the country.
- Currently the practice is banned in public schools in 31 states, plus the District of Columbia.
- New Jersey and Iowa also ban the practice in private schools too.
- New Jersey was the very first U.S. state to abolish school corporal punishment in 1867.
- Corporal punishment is most often used in the South, mainly in public schools in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
Should corporal punishment in schools be allowed?
Questions & Answers
What are the benefits of corporal punishment?
Proponents argue that as a traditional form of punishment, it has a proven track record. It is also effective as a deterrent, quick to administer, and an efficient use of staff time.Helpful 153
What are ten perspectives against physical punishment in schools?
1. It creates moral confusion if you tell a child that violence is wrong then subject them to physical punishment. 2. It may make the child fear the teacher, but that's not the same as respecting them. 3. It can cause a child psychological harm, many will remember the punishments well into adulthood. 4. It can be difficult to exactly define the line between what level of punishment is acceptable and not acceptable, much easier to ban it all together. 5. It is an out-dated way of controlling children and will present the school as old-fashioned and behind the times. 6. It may cause psychological damage to those administering the punishment. 7. All sorts of rules, training, vetting procedures need to be introduced to ensure that all is carried out correctly, increasing bureaucracy and expense. 8. Things go wrong, teachers punish children unjustly, too harshly, or can be abusive in other ways,. 9. Children learn from the teachers and use physical punishments on other children. 10. It is just plain immoral, we don't generally allow adults to hit each other to get their way, why should it be allowed in schools.Helpful 86
Why is corporal punishment not the best way to maintain discipline in schools?
Critics argue that it causes emotional as well as physical harm to children, encourages the idea that using violence is an acceptable method to get one's way, is difficult to oversee, is problematic to define what level of physical punishment is appropriate and what constitutes abuse, creates an atmosphere of fear rather than respect, and promotes an out-of-date methodology that doesn't work.
Is corporal punishment necessary?
Proponents argue that corporal punishment acts as a strong deterrent as well as a punishment, that its effects are immediate, and that it is cost-effective.
What is the psychological effect of corporal punishment on a child?
Most psychologists oppose physical punishment and point to studies that show spanking, hitting and other methods of causing pain to children can lead to antisocial behavior, physical injury, increased aggression, and mental health problems.
© 2012 Paul Goodman