Corporal Punishment in Children; Right or Wrong

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{text:bookmark-start} Corporal Punishment with Children: Right or Wrong {text:bookmark-end} ? How properly to discipline a child is an age old question. Countless numbers of parents have had to make this decision. Many of these parents were raised in homes that used spanking as the main form of discipline. Most people can readily recount each time he, or she received a spanking for an offense, and even remember what kind of instrument was used to inflict the punishment. Whether it was a belt, a switch, a hand, or a paddle, this form of punishment always left a lasting impression. For centuries spanking has been the main form of punishment used by parents to correct bad behavior in their children. Only recently has this age old standard been questioned. More attention is being paid to a child’s welfare, and rightly so. More studies are being conducted on the effects of punishment styles and how those effects shape a child. So, how does one properly discipline a child, with the intent being correction not harm? There are many choices that can be made. What exactly is corporal punishment? Corporal punishment is a discipline method in which a supervising adult deliberately inflicts pain upon a child in response to a child’s unacceptable behavior and/or inappropriate language. The immediate aims of such punishment are usually to halt the offense, prevent its recurrence, and set an example for others. The purported long-term goal is to change the child’s behavior and to make it more consistent with the adult’s expectation. (Dayton, 1994) Each parent must make the decision early if he, or she, will spank and when it should be applied. The parents must also decide what kind of instrument will be used to inflict the punishment. Some choices are switches, belts, paddles, yardsticks, a hand, and even a fly-swatter can be used. The parent must then stick to that policy, keeping in mind that the main goal of punishment should be to correct bad behavior. Parents must not be afraid to choose a form of punishment that will help them to reach that end. As one who was raised in a generation that did not question spanking, both sides of the argument are valid. Abuse of a child is a terrible crime that is on the rise. Child abuse should never be tolerated in any form. That said, spanking done with love and concern for a child’s well-being can be very effective in changing bad behavior. One question to ask before spanking a child should be whether or not the offense was minor or a more serious offense. For a minor offense such as lying, fussing with a sibling, back-talking, or ignoring a parent, a spanking might not be the most productive course of action. The child may respond positively to a time out, or the removal of a favorite toy, depending on the age of the child. At times, a mere warning may do the trick, provided the child is aware of the consequences if the bad behavior does not stop. For a major offense such as fighting, theft, use of drugs and alcohol and engaging in other forms of dangerous behavior (sexual or other) a spanking may be in order, once again depending on the age of the child. A teenager of 16 years or more probably is not going to be too intimidated by a mere uncomfortable spanking. But, if a parent takes away a much loved item, such as a car or a cell phone, the child just may pay attention. The professionals and parents that are pro-spanking stand on the belief that the child will learn boundaries, have more respect for authority figures, and have a better understanding of right and wrong behavior, if spanked. In a quote from Dr. James Dobson, Pastor and author, “How can we teach constructive attitudes to a generation of young people which is no longer listening to us?” (Dobson 1970, p99) In his book, Dare to Discipline, Dr. Dobson tries to teach parents from a biblical viewpoint that they must learn respect in order to teach respect. Children must have a respect for authority and boundaries in order to have...
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