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Punishment And Behavior Essay

983 words - 4 pages

Punishment and Behavior The amount of crime in America has been constantly increasing over the years. At the same time, in order to deter this crime punishment enforced by the government has also increased. This is what compels me to argue against the notion that if a society wishes to change its citizens' behavior, a system based on punishments will be much more effective than a reward based system. First of all, there seems to be a very strong relationship between punishment and violence. The main source of this data is 3300 kids and 6000 couples who took part in the National Family Violence Survey (Straus 134). In this study physical punishment is defined as " a legally permissible physical attack on children" (Straus 134). This study reported that in this 1975 National Family Violence survey, it was found that children who were physically punished that year were three times more likely to " severely and repeatedly" assault one of their siblings three or more times over the rest of the year (Straus 136). This same survey also showed that both men and women who had more physical punishment as a child were more likely to assault their spouse during that year (Straus 142). This study also found a rise in street crime with increasing amounts of physical punishment. A 1972 study of 385 college students which were punished as children were more likely to be involved in violent and property crime (Straus 145). A final interesting statistic showed that for 1980 schools that used a greater amount of physical punishment also had a greater homicide rate (Straus 146). According to Gault et. Al increasing the intensity of punishment has been found to better suppress or change a person's behavior (159). They also found that complete suppression is only achieved by extreme, almost inhumane punishment (Gualt, Gridley, et al 159). They also found that no matter how intense the punishment given, once it is stopped, the undesirable behavior has been found to return in most cases (Gault, Gridley, et al 159). According to a recent study by Strassberg, Dodge, Pettit and Bates (1994) the occurrence of parental spanking, regardless of frequency, or whether the punishment was given by the father or the mother, increased the child's aggression (Gualt, Gridley, et al 160). Another interesting statistic given by the American Psychological Association is that about seventy percent of men who came through the criminal justice system were abused or neglected children (Gualt, Gridley, et al 161). Finally, Penelope Leach, who is a "well known writer on child development", has also found punishing children leads to higher levels of aggression (Gualt, Gridley, et al 160). Just as there are apparent links between punishment and violent or undesirable behavior in American society, Ihanus has found similar links between...

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