It’s Time to Put an End to Corporal Punishment in Schools
Seven countries-Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Italy and Cyprus- have laws making it illegal for parents to use physical punishment on their children. Corporal punishment in schools has been banned in all the countries in Europe, South and Central America, China and Japan. The United States has outlawed corporal punishment from our prisons as cruel and inhumane treatment, as well as wife-beating, once thought to be the right of a husband. Why don’t we afford the same protection to our children?
Our culture sanctions the use of corporal or physical punishment as a way for parents to discipline their children. Just a few weeks ago Marvin Munyon, president of the Family Resource Forum based in Madison, Wisconsin, was at the Eau Claire Gospel Center to talk about and demonstrate the proper way to spank children. Mr. Munyon would have us believe that discipline other than spanking is ineffective (Emerson 1B, 3B). From my experience as a child and a parent I have found the opposite to be true. If we take a look at what discipline is and the reasons parents use physical punishment, we can then start to understand that there are more effective ways to discipline children.
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines corporal punishment, as “bodily punishment.” The word punish is defined by the same source as “to cause to undergo pain, loss, etc., as for a crime.” There is no mention anywhere in this definition about teaching or training which is one of the definitions of discipline: “training that develops self-control, efficiency, etc.” What does physical punishment teach children? For one thing it teaches them that it’s okay to use violence to solve problems. Secondly, it teaches kids that it’s okay to hit people who are smaller and weaker than they are. It doesn’t teach them self-control or ways to change their behavior other than not getting caught misbehaving. One of the ways kids learn is by watching and mimicking the world around them, especially their parents. They are quick to learn when words and actions don’t coincide, for example, when a parent spanks a child because the child hits someone else. Being a parent is not an easy job and it takes time and patience to discipline children.
After a year of implementing a specific discipline for my daughter’s temper tantrums, I witnessed my daughter exercise self-control at the age of three. Temper tantrums were her specialty. When my daughter flew out of control I would put her in her room until she calmed down. Then she was allowed to rejoin the family and finish the task she was asked to do, or apologize depending on the circumstances. In this particular instance, when my daughter got angry she picked up her blanket and stomped upstairs crying without me saying a word other than she couldn’t play her musical instruments in the same room while her sister was...