Corporal Punishment on Children

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Alexander Giommi

English 15A



Corporal Punishment on Children

Corporal punishment is a very common form of parenting, but it is on the decline. Thirty years ago, it was very common for a child to be spanked by his/her parents. The truth is that today, most parents still use corporal punishment on their children, but different parts of the world have different methods of teaching and training. Corporal punishment has been used for many centuries as a form of discipline and many activists say that physical abuse used to raise children is wrong and inhumane. They argue that spanking your child will leave emotional scars and may cause a traumatizing experience, while kids who are raised with non-violent motives are more capable of comporting themselves. Although these effects may be true in some cases, the positive aspects of corporal punishment outweigh the negative ones. Corporal punishment is appropriate because it’s more effective than other forms of discipline, it’s fair, and it leads to a disciplined society.

There are several methods of corporal punishment. These include spanking, smacking, slapping, whipping, paddling, flogging, and caning. Forms of non-corporal punishment include time-outs, grounding, chores, removing privileges/allowances, ad confiscating. Parents, teachers, coaches, and law enforcement officials in other parts of the world use corporal punishment. Although it is so common, many people do not understand the fine line between punishment and abuse. The proper and most effective uses of physical means to discipline are to punish misbehavior or disobedience, and immediately following misconduct. This is due to the fact that a young child might not fully understand that he/she is being hit for a reason. In today’s day and age, political correctness restricts corporal punishment. The distinction between abuse and corporal punishment has blurred. People say these forms of punishment are brutal and barbaric, and parents who spank their children may be accused of abuse. Abuse is when excessive violence is used, and the victim has scars or bruises.

Corporal punishment is also effective and fair. It provides an immediate resolution to a problem. In simpler words, it’s quick and easy. The pain received guarantees negative sensation and it is associated with misbehavior. Corporal punishment is unbiased, and affordable. Threats can also be used to replace the physical punishment. This way, corporal punishment turns into non-corporal punishment because fear is a deterrent. Lastly, it teaches accountability. In comparison, non-corporal punishment is time consuming and inconvenient. For example, putting a child in time-out requires the time and attention of the punisher and may take time away from other activities. It also indirectly punishes any friends the child is playing. The use of non-corporal punishment might also be misconceived for one of two reasons: the person being punished might not associate the punishment with the action, or the punishment is not necessarily unpleasant because, as crazy as it sounds, some kids enjoy doing chores or having some alone time in a time-out. Another con of non-corporal punishment is that wealth and status are advantages. These differences show that corporal punishment, if used correctly, is a very practical form of discipline.

Disciplined children produce a disciplined society. In Singapore, men and children are caned by law enforcement. This means that if a wrongdoer is caught in the act, that person will be hit with a cane by police officers. The effects of this are that there is a very low crime rate in Singapore, and they live in an extremely clean society. Another example is the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire rose to power and thrived under strict code and punishment. In the events that followed, moral decadence took over and the Roman law failed, thus causing the fall of the empire. In present day Europe, corporal punishment is illegal in all schools and completely illegal in many of them. These examples prove that a disciplined society is a strong one.

In the United States, corporal punishment is a state matter. Most northern states, prohibit it in school while most southern states do not prohibit it whatsoever, although it is not commonly used in school anymore. Campaigns against corporal punishment in schools argue that it is wrong to hit children and there are better methods of discipline. Advocates, on the other hand, believe that corporal punishment should be used in class because it doesn’t waste class time, and the student doesn’t miss any work. Today, physical discipline is most common in catholic schools, but it is also used in public schools where government regulations are in place. This also leads to problems when dealing with disabled children. In a Time Magazine article, M.J. Stephey writes, “Nationwide, students with disabilities receive corporal punishment at disproportionately high rates. In Tennessee, for example, students with disabilities are paddled at more than twice the rate of the general student population. ... Students with autism are particularly likely to be punished for behaviors common to their condition, stemming from difficulties with appropriate social behavior.” This is a growing issue, especially in Texas and Tennessee. Although paddling may be effective, it is wrong to hit any child with disabilities because that can scar a child who might not understand the reasoning.

One flaw of the use of corporal punishment is that when authority is not present, children are not afraid of punishment, so they do whatever they want. Fear is a deterrent, but that is useless if there is no fear. In an American Psychological Association topic, they said, “…although it makes children afraid to disobey when parents are present, when parents are not present to administer the punishment those same children will misbehave.” This is true, but the same goes with any type of punishment. There is no solution to this problem because when parents aren’t around, kids will have their fun regardless of the discipline they receive.

The famous proverb says, “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” meaning that corporal punishment is the only effective form of discipline. This adage dates back to biblical times. American society has gravitated away from corporal punishment and many believe this has had a negative impact on the population. Coddling can be a detrimental pleasure for a child. Eventually, everyone has to be accountable in life. Has the United States put itself on a path to destruction by producing a generation of children that lack the discipline necessary to succeed in life?


M.J. Stephey. “Corporal Punishment in U.S. Schools.” Time Magazine. August 12, 2009. Web. November 6, 2012.

Elizabeth Gershoff, Robert Larzelere. “Is Corporal Punishment an Effective Means of Discipline?” American Psychological Association. June 26, 2002. Web. November 6, 2012.

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