Corporal Punishment: Good or Bad?

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Often there is an error made concerning corporal punishment being confused between discipline and abuse. Corporal abuse is not acceptable for any reason. But there is a time and place for discipline, even to the point of corporal punishment. This article confuses the issue by assuming that corporal punishment is the same thing as abuse, it is not.
So what is corporal punishment? I believe it is using physical means to let the individual know what they are doing is not acceptable. Is incarceration corporal punishment? It is physically restraining and isolating an individual. Our prisons are full of children who were not disciplined with corporal punishment. But the ultimate corporal punishment is imprisonment followed by the death penalty. The world is full of productive people who were raised with corporal punishment. This raises the question as to cruelty. Is a pop on the behind crueler than isolation of a social animal, man? One is physical and the other is mental. So, is mental cruelty acceptable, but physical cruelty is not?
But make no mistake, a slap on the wrist or pop on the behind is discipline while beating someone until they are black and blue is abuse. And abuse is not acceptable.
There are theories of upbringing that say adults should never tell a child no. The adult should reason with the child. But my puppies have the mental age of a 2-year-old. I tell them NO! I do not try and reason with them. They get the message and stop what they are doing, or at least slow down. The same is true for children. A two-year-old does not have the reasoning capabilities to understand an explanation any more than my puppies. They do understand the word NO! And if that is not enough a pop on the back side is sometimes warranted. This is NOT abuse, it is discipline.
I use corporal punishment in my class, but without touching the child unless there is a question of their health. If they put their head down, I tell them to sit up. If that is not adequate, I tap on their desk. If that is not enough, I will touch their shoulder, to make sure they are all right as they were unresponsive to other stimulation. I have had some children claim my touching them that way amounted to child abuse. There are special training methods to use to restrain a child or adult without harming them. These are actually corporal punishment techniques.
The Bible says that if you do not spank (spare the rod), the child will not grow up being respectful (spoil the child). I see in the classroom every day children who have never been spanked. They are indeed spoiled and unruly.


Bill Kamps Added Apr 19, 2017 - 12:27pm
I am always reminded of when my parents would go to the teacher meetings at school.  In those days the kids went with, and the teachers needed permission to hit the kids.  My Dad would tell the teacher that it was ok to hit me, I wouldnt break.  Of course I was standing there when he said it.  After that, they never needed to do it, the threat was enough.
The problem with most things like this is that used properly, corporal punishment doesnt need to be severe or often, but unfortunately situations can easily get out of hand.  So given the dim witted society we live in, it is understandable that schools have stopped it.  Shoot schools now require a prescription from a doctor, to give kids sun screen, this by federal law. 
Dino Manalis Added Apr 19, 2017 - 12:39pm
It depends on the person receiving the discipline or punishment.  It may be necessary, but sometimes it's abuse and could result in physical and/or mental harm.  Know their character first and parental notification is required!
Jeffry Gilbert Added Apr 19, 2017 - 12:45pm
I don't have any kids but I assure you were I to have and anyone outside my family - especially an employee of the state - put a hand on my child they would end up in the hospital. No ifs, ands or buts. The state has no business raising anyone's kids. Teach the the three R's until the cows come home but keep your hands off my kid. I had a very strong talk with a teacher that put a hand on my nephew. 
That said. I had a teacher, Mrs. Herman, break a meter stick over the back of my neck in 1st period American Lit. I know, hell of a time of the day for that class but I digress. My crime? Sleeping. As you know a meter stick is 8mm thick. I burst up out of my chair rared back screaming at the top of my lungs somebody was gonna get an ass whippin'. Then I realized it had been Mrs Herman and I shook my finger in her face assuring her that was the last time she'd ever make that mistake. 
I picked up my books left the desk and chair where they fell and walked strait to the principal's office knocked on his outer door (on the hall) and proceeded to tell him what happened. Had I not had skied with him everyday for years I'd simply have driven home.
He had a paddle. Long flat piece of oak with holes drilled in the last foot of the end of it. It was cut length wise down the middle to give two bangs for one swing. Didn't even look at it. 
Mrs. Herman retired. I kept my scholarship to the academy. 
Keep you hands off the kids. You have no right to lay your hands on them. 
John Minehan Added Apr 19, 2017 - 1:06pm
It depends on what the Corporal did wrong, I think.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Apr 19, 2017 - 1:10pm
It depends on what the Corporal did wrong, I think.
Military humor! Well played.
Joe Chiang Added Apr 19, 2017 - 1:54pm
Jeffery, I appreciate your views.  Broken homes make it more difficult, but raising good kinds can still be accomplished.  Just consider Dr. Carson, from a poor broken home.  That is not an excuse, but a challenge to be overcome. 
I have had a student who walked the reservation all night trying to find a place to sleep.  We cut him slack if he went to sleep in class or did not have assignments completed on time.
That said, even in broken homes, they are homes, students need to be taught the life lesson to focus on what they are supposed to be doing. 
Controlling kids is not all that difficult when they are younger.  I remember when I was a student teacher (after 30+ years in business) I saw a rowdy child in church and gave him "The Look" and he turned around, and sat quietly.  I knew then I had become a teacher.  LOL
EXPAT Added Apr 19, 2017 - 4:09pm
We shouldn't have to beat our kids into submission. I think the answer is smaller classes separated by ability. 
Yes the children are a reflection of their parents, and it is the parents who are the ones who should PAY for bad behavior, not the child.
If an unruly child was taken to the Principles Office (As I did many times) and the Parents were forced to leave work and come collect their little misfit, they would soon make sure he/she behaved. If they or it doesn't work, then the social worker should be forced to collect the urchin.
The problem with Corporal punishment is that too often it gets out of hand! I see news of children in Thailand being mutilated and scared for life. I don't expect it would get that bad in America, but then again I didn't expect the explosion of Teachers having sex with students either!
Mircea Negres Added Apr 20, 2017 - 10:39am
It depends on the circumstances, the offender and the teacher. If done right, it works. If it goes wrong, the slope is slippery and I've seen enough of that in my childhood and teenage years on two continents. My opinion is that teachers should not hit kids except in self-defense. However, teachers are not pin cushions for abuse (verbal, physical or psychological) such as they endure these days and are entitled to work in a proper environment. If the kid doesn't listen, call the parents. If the parents don't fix it and the kid becomes a perennial and serious problem (say, constant assaults on teachers or kids), get rid of him through suspension and ultimately, expulsion, but it has to be understood that slapping or caning a kid for not doing his homework or flunking an exam solves nothing.
Joe Chiang Added Apr 20, 2017 - 11:30am
I can teach ANY student who is in class and willing to make an effort.  I have only had one student who was present and tried, but failed my class.  That was a high speed summer class covering the entire Algebra 1 course in 6 weeks, a day of class every hour.  The student who could not keep up was a special ed student who just needed extra time.
That said, I have NEVER had a student pass my class who did not attend and/or did not try.  There is an answer to motivate this group of students, mandatory after school tutoring.  Learn or stay after school, be present or stay after school.  It would be their choice to learn in class or after school.  Interesting how this is outlawed in every state I know of, the one thing that works. 
I agree, physical punishment is not required if non-physical methods are able to be implemented.  But when administrators, school level and/or higher, refuse to permit teachers the authority to address discipline in the classroom, then expect no learning to take place.
Mircea Negres Added Apr 20, 2017 - 4:01pm
Joe, your last comment makes a lot of sense to me. Had a bad term once, and went through the next term doing extra lessons after school. It was to help, not punish, and my results improved, though by the end of that year my stomach was burned right through from all the stress.
Teachers seem to have been deprived of the authority to enforce discipline in their classes in South Africa too. Apparently disruptive pupils can't be kicked out of class. Serious trouble makers are rarely suspended and fewer yet expelled, even after they get caught with narcotics on school grounds. Hell, in one case a student who called the cops to search for drugs after school authorities ignored his information (cops found dope, alright) was shamed by the principal in front of the whole school and stripped of a leadership function, which impacted negatively on his application for university.
The environment is getting worse all the time, both for the students who want to learn, as well as the teachers trying to do their jobs.
Rex Added Apr 20, 2017 - 7:14pm
Joe I agree with corporal punishment. I was raised by a grandmother who was a fan of hair brushing.
 It did not harm me to know that there would be   punishment if I did not follow the rules.
I see so many children acting out in public that is very hard to keep from saying something to the parent and then telling them to slap their butt,
I can say I always considered the possible hair brushing before doing anything that would lead to it.
The discipline I learned was self discipline and to think before I act that is something children do not get today. If they do something wrong the parents smooth it over rather than making them pay for the "crime."
It is no wonder so many of these children end up in jail. If you do not handle the small violations of behavior then children go on to commit greater and greater bad acts.
John Minehan Added Apr 20, 2017 - 7:30pm
"Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich starker."  Nietzche
wsucram15 Added Apr 20, 2017 - 10:01pm
What does not kill me makes me stronger is right.  But it does depend on the kid. It worked for me and made me very strong..very young.
But I got hit in school for not paying attention, and actually I was having petit mal and absonce seizures, which had not been diagnosed yet.  Sometimes kids act out for reasons other than bad behavior and the parents need to know.  If they are aware then do nothing, then yes the child needs to be separated from the regular classes and work in a smaller group.
I dont think a school should be responsible for physical punishment aside from time out, suspension, removal from the class and the creates too much liability for the county or city of the school. It is up to a parent to discipline their children, if they cannot do so, there are options for the child.  But first you need to find the problem.
Children learn by example, by parents and role models.  I had parents that did what they could but were both a mess.  I had a couple of people that helped but I learned to rely on stable people early and I was lucky.  Your foundation is important and many kids dont have that kind of structure today because everything is OPEN. Plus parents are a mess, I had one little kid that used to come to my house whose mother was a crack head. He couldnt take the stuff home his dad bought during visitation,  because she would sell it.  The father was on the road too much to get custody so the boy used to leave his stuff at my house.   He had NO supervision, but he pushed himself through school. 
Billy Roper Added Apr 21, 2017 - 10:51am
As a parent, it's never good to discipline a child when you're angry, but it's never good to not discipline them when it's needed. For this reason, I have never used corporal punishment. If you aren't smarter and more in control than the child you're disciplining, you don't need them.
Billy Roper Added Apr 21, 2017 - 10:52am
Let me add to that as a classroom teacher, I DID administer corporal punishment to some students, but they were low-order primates, 20 year old eighth grade black males who didn't respond to anything else, because that was the only language they understood.
Joe Chiang Added Apr 22, 2017 - 1:21pm
John G.  I do not want to ban you.  Please keep the conversation civil.  Intelligent thought out comments are appreciated.  I see you have contributed little more than what "Trolls" do in name calling and "Bomb Throwing" in other comments you have made in other threads.  You have written no original thoughts of your own and your comments look ignorant and lack real analysis of thought.
The summary of this comment is that corporal punishment is not good, but does have its place in education.  Self control is the gain through corporal punishment, but needs to be applied at an early age.  Once the student reaches higher grades, then sometimes it is the ONLY way to reach them.  If it is not used then, the individual can expect that society will need to incarcerate.
I have observed that the poor have a lack of discipline in their homes and schools.  I often hear the excuse that they are ...  poor, have a bad home life, are black, white red or yellow.  As a result, these individuals grow up with no self control, living in the moment.  "I want" and they act on that want with no thought of the consequences, like having "FU" as your only thought in a civil discussion.
So, now that we have this problem identified, what is wrong in our common societies, what do we do about it?  I propose that if a child decides to not learn in class, they can stay after school (used to be they lost recess, but there is no recess any more to lose.)  The child needs to learn to make thought out decisions.  They need to decide if I learn now or after school (not I don't want to learn).  Do I skip school and play video games or go to school so I don't lose time after school later for missing.  
Another lost lesson is to make an effort.  Many students do not make an effort to learn.  Our society rewards "easy", advertising focuses on what is easy.  But success is not easy, it is hard and takes work.  Therefore, making and effort is an important life lesson.  Just a thought.
William Hill Added Apr 24, 2017 - 4:26pm
As a young child, I was spanked for my transgressions. As young children, my sons for the same. As was my father, on back. All grew up to be balanced, whole, law-abiding, civic-minded, professionally productive persons.
Witness now the newest generation of kids/young adults, empowered by permissive or neglectful parents who have been led to believe a swat on the ass is child abuse - total lack of decorum in the classroom and general delinquency in society.
Some authorities hold that it is the absence of parental discipline that, in part, accounts for the rise in gang membership - youth are looking for a structured family-like environment.
One thing sure - if you didn't learn discipline at home and school wasn't allowed to, if you can't discipline yourself, don't be surprised when the law does it for you.
Joe Chiang Added Apr 24, 2017 - 10:26pm
Expat.  As usual, in general I agree.  But this subject is more complex than general discussion will permit.  As you noted, each child is an individual and learns in their own individual way.  Also, each teacher is also an individual and teaches in their own individual way.  When the best of both comes together, education is beautiful.  When they clash with each other, school can be Hello.  The trick is to make sure only the options that click in a positive way come together and all others don't.  But the numbers of children vs the number of teachers will never let that happen.
Joe Chiang Added Apr 25, 2017 - 10:16am
I have seen or heard this before.  I am posting it on my FB ed page.  Thanks for the reminder.
I have said for years that I was in business for 30 years before learning I could get rich as a teacher.  I just wish I could write checks against all the wealth I have accumulated.  LOL
Joe Chiang Added Apr 29, 2017 - 11:45am
Kim, you are correct.  I think the issue is not a simple rich or poor.  I think it falls more into positively involved parents vs parents that are not involved in their children's lives or education.
I have a 7th grade student once who would not make an effort to work, but was VERY bright.  He told me "I act out to get my father's attention.  I know I will not get his attention, but I do it anyway."  What more could I add?  LOL  
We have a disintegrating society because more and more children residing without positive adult leadership, sometimes even when BOTH parents are present.  But then there are some children who have NO parent or guardian.  As I have mentioned before, we had one student in our school who wandered the reservation every night trying to find someplace to sleep.  He wore a hoodie and the weather was -20 degrees.  
I think this is child abuse by our society.