The negative physical/psychological effects of corporate punishment on children.
What Science Says About Using Physical Force to Punish a Child?
The article discusses the negative effect of using violence to discipline children, especially in their early childhood learning and development. According to the author, early childhood development gains direction from several factors. Genetic factors such as nature, gender, and health conditions, which arise from within the children, play an essential role in children’s growth, development, and relationship with others. Therefore, the author argues that a child exposed to continuous violent disciplinary acts is likely to experience slow or negatively skewed development. When a child is exposed to extreme violent discipline, he or she may be stigmatized. The author is definite that community and social structure influence child development.
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The author states that “young victims of violence may start withdrawing and behaving differently as a coping strategy” (Samakow par. 11). Since using violence to discipline children does not allow the young minds to engage the free spirit that promotes creativity, “the learning process at home or in school may be compromised since applying force as a corrective measure may be counterproductive” (Samakow par. 14). When nothing is done to help such a victim, the child may grow into a violent adult with very poor socialization skills. The quotes confirm that the use of violence to discipline children interferes with early childhood learning, which plays an essential role in child development.
Physical Punishment in Childhood: The Rights of the Child. New York: John Wiley & Sons
The book provides a wide range of views; the authors explore the fine line between normalized physical punishment and illegal or unacceptable physical and emotional abuse of children. It builds on the emerging field of research that provides opportunities for children to speak for themselves about their views and experiences. It provides observations from children, professionals, and several generations from within individual families. Also, it discusses the power of language used by parents, professionals, and the media to describe physical punishment.
The author states “The silencing and powerlessness of children who suffer degrading and unjust treatment by adults responsible for their care and protection is a characteristic of childhood often maintained by sanctioned physical punishment” (Saunders and Goddard, 2008, p.415). Prof. Goddard states that “it seems clear that ‘much violence is learned at home, home, therefore, is surely where we should begin to arrest the process” (Goddard, 1994, p. 12).
Corporal Punishment of Children
In his article, Lenta strived to promote the idea that the practice of subjecting children to corporal punishment cannot be considered appropriate. The author’s line of reasoning, in this respect, is concerned with outlining the main pro-punishment arguments and exposing them, as such that is being utterly inconsistent with the realities of modern living. For example, Lenta mentions the fact that the application of corporal punishment often does prove rather effective, as the inexpensive and convenient instrument of correcting children’s behavior.
According to the author, many people also believe that by subjecting their children to corporal punishment, they help the latter to become emotionally comfortable with the notion of discipline – something that should benefit children in the long term. Lenta, however, refutes these claims by pointing out what appear to be the main indications of the concerned practice’s inappropriateness, such as the fact that corporal punishment violates the child’s “right to security of the person” and the “right not to suffer degrading punishment” (699). This positions Lenta’s article, as such that is being strongly opposed to the idea that there is nothing wrong with administering corporal punishment to children.
“Corporal punishment cannot be justified on consequentialist grounds because it involves the infliction of pain that has not conclusively been shown to do significant good, because it poses some risk of serious harm, and because there are alternative punishments that bring about as much (if not more) benefit at a lower cost” (Lenta 690). “The unfair discrimination inherent in the corporal punishment of children is a serious moral wrong. It is a violation of the ideal of respect for the equal dignity of all” (Lenta 705).
Even though the authors of the above-summarized articles (and the book) took different approaches to define the actual effects of corporate punishment on children, they all agree that most of these effects are strongly negative. The following is the synthesis of the actual insights, as to the inappropriateness of subjecting children to corporal punishment, contained in the reviewed sources:
- Corporal punishment results in the social alienation of children. While subjected to it, the child will naturally come to assume that there is something utterly wrong about him or her, which in turn will lead this person to begin experiencing the sensation of self-loathing. In its turn, this explains why corporate punishment is being often discussed as the strong contributive factor behind one’s tendency to exhibit mentally abnormal behavior. As Saunders and Goddard noted: “Physical (corporal) punishment may effectively devalue children, foster poor self-esteem and contribute to a fearful and coercive environment” (114). This suggestion is fully justified because, as psychologists are being well aware, children rarely assign any moral significance to the punishment that they receive – for them, it is essentially the matter of a ‘lesser force’ being subdued by a ‘greater force’. Consequently, this results in convincing them that the ways of the world are strongly unjust and that adults cannot be trusted. As the ultimate consequence, the likelihood to end up becoming socially alienated/violently minded individuals, on the part of people with the childhood-experience of having been corporally punished, increases rather substantially. What is even worse, as a result of having been punished physically (verbally), children are likely to develop a rebellious attitude towards adults and to eventually become even less manageable, in the behavioral sense of this word – as the gesture of paying their punishers with the same token of respect. According to Samakow: “Physical punishment encourages kids to continue the cycle of abuse…. children who are hit are more likely to use the action to solve problems with their peers and siblings” (par. 11). Such an eventual scenario is also predetermined by the sheer cuteness of how children perceive the surrounding reality. After all, children have always been known for their ability to learn rather quickly that the most energetically effective way for them to avoid being punished, is to make sure they are not caught doing wrong things – as opposed to ceasing to be affiliated with these things, altogether.
- Corporal punishment of children often leads to physical abuse. The very juxtaposition of a child (the punished) against an adult (the punisher), naturally presupposes the heightened possibility for the latter to end up miscalculating the actual strength, with which psychical punishment is being administered – especially if such widely used forms of corporal punishment as spanking and paddling are being concerned. This, in turn, may result in the punished child sustaining physical injuries. According to Saunders and Goddard: “In some cases, the mild ‘smack’ or ‘tap’ on a child’s hand or bottom escalates into severe and sometimes criminal abuse. Even fatal abuse has been linked to physical punishment” (4). What contributes towards increasing the likelihood of such a scenario, is that neither parents nor teachers are qualified in administering physical punishment. In this respect, the realities of post-industrial living in the West need to be considered, as well. After all, these realities presuppose the parents/teachers’ continual exposure to the increasing amounts of (often irrelevant) information, on one hand, and to the requirement to apply ever more effort into ensuring that they retain their ‘place under Sun’, on the other – hence, causing them to experience the sensation of emotional distress on a semi-permanent basis. However, it is a well-known fact that the stressed-out individuals do not only exhibit a tendency to indulge in violence, but also to use excessive force, while on the rampage. Yet, as practice indicates, most parents/teachers decide in favor of resorting to corporal punishment, as the instrument of ‘correcting’ children, when all other options have been exhausted, which means that the actual process of administering this kind of punishment is highly emotional and consequently – prone to abuse.
- The application of corporal punishment to children undermines their chances to become socially responsible individuals. Even though that a child of just about any age (with the exemption of toddlers) can be corporally punished, it is namely the children from six to thirteen years old, who appear to be the most vulnerable to the prospect of facing such a punishment. At this age, most children gain a preliminary awareness of the notion of what a civil right stands for. Therefore, when subjected to corporal punishment, they are being naturally prompted to doubt the conceptual validity of the notion in question. This simply could not be otherwise – the very premise that children can be administered corporal punishment presupposes this punishment’s discriminatory essence: “Corporal punishment unfairly discriminates against children. The unfair discrimination inherent in the corporal punishment of children is a serious moral wrong. It is a violation of the ideal of respect for the equal dignity of all” (Lenta 705). Therefore, there is nothing too surprising about the fact that, as many studies indicate, individuals with a history of having been excessively exposed to corporal punishments, tend to exhibit a rather cynical attitude towards the idea that it is specifically the impersonal law, which defines the qualitative dynamics within the society. As a logical result, these individuals often choose to break the law, as the mean of trying to make their lives count. It is understood, of course, that this situation can hardly be considered thoroughly tolerable, which in turn explains why, as time goes on, the idea of banning corporal punishment, as the method of disciplining children, becomes increasingly popular with more and more people.
- Corporal punishment is capable of setting children on the path of sexual deviation. As it was mentioned earlier, corporal punishment is primarily about inflicting physical pain upon a child, which is being done in a variety of different ways. The common assumption, in regards to these methods of discipline, is that after having been subjected to them, the child will be naturally prompted to associate physical pain with the wrongdoing – something that should make him or her think twice, before deciding in favor of the latter. However, what is being usually overlooked, in this respect, is that the process of administering this kind of punishment is utterly humiliating. Yet, as psychologists are being aware, those who end up being subjected to humiliation continuously, are likely to develop an unhealthy taste for being treated in such a manner (sadomasochism), and towards inflicting pain upon others. According to Saunders and Goddard: “Cumulative evidence suggests that physical punishment may (at least in part) be responsible for … masochistic sexual relationships” (144). What it means is that, regardless of whether they do it willingly or unwillingly, but by administering corporal punishment to their children, parents do make it more likely for the former to turn psychologically/mentally deviant: “Spanking alters kids’ brains” (Samakow par. 15). There is an even more sinister aspect to this – as practice shows, the main reason for some parents/teachers to decide in favor of subjecting the child to corporal punishment is that they derive sadistic pleasure out of it. It is understood, of course, that under this type of circumstances, the punishing of children ceases to serve even a nominal ‘corrective’ function and becomes the instrument of these children’s victimization. This, however, does not only represent an acute risk to the affected children’s normal development, but also the well-being of the society, as a whole, which is another reason why the practice of corporal punishment is being increasingly criticized.
Overall, all three sources do agree that the range of negative effects of corporate punishment on children is indeed rather wide and that parents/teachers should do their best to avoid taking advantage of this disciplinarian instrument. Even though the authors do deserve to be given a credit for having done a fair amount of research on the given topic, many of the contained contra-punishment claims, on their part, appear to be somewhat biased. The practical value of the reviewed sources would be much higher if the authors focused more on supporting these claims with references to the empirical studies, as to the negative effects of corporal punishment on children.
The positive psychological/physical effects of corporal punishment on children (as seen by some authors)
Social Theory and Practice
This particular article is quite unusual, in the sense that it can be discussed as being nothing short of an apologetic account of children’s corporal punishment. The reason for this is that in it, the author aimed to substantiate the idea that, once assessed from the consequentialist and retributivist perspectives, the practice will appear fully justified. As Benatar noted: “Given… that the (negative) effects (of corporal punishment) are not substantial, there is a strong likelihood that they could be overridden by other considerations in a consequentialist calculation” (243).
The author’s approach to arguing in favor of his point of view on the subject matter in question is concerned with the deployment of the rhetorical principle of reductio ad absurdum. For example, according to the author, to claim that applying physical punishment to the child prompts him or her to adopt a tolerant attitude towards violence, would be the same as to claim that keeping convicts incarcerated endorses the idea that the best way to deal with people who displease us, is to throw them into jail. At the same time, however, Benatar does agree with the suggestion that parents/teachers should try their best to avoid subjecting children to corporal punishment.
“Corporal punishment indeed involves the application of direct and intense power to the body, but I do not see how that constitutes a more severe lowering of somebody’s standing than employing indirect and mild power in the course of a strip-search, for example” (Benatar 242). “Punishment in schools can be seen as serving a useful educational purpose. It facilitates the move from the jurisdiction of the family to the jurisdiction of the state, teaching the child that punishment is not always inflicted by close people who love one and no one” (Benatar 239).
Paddling and the Repression of the Feminine in Male Hazing
In his article, Mechling deploys a psychoanalytical approach to discussing the actual significance of administering corporal punishment (spanking/paddling) to children (boys). According to the author, this practice serves the role of encouraging young boys to adopt the patriarchal outlook on how society functions. The reason for this is that spanking/paddling of boys is in essence the sublimation of sexual intercourse. As Mechling noted: “The paddle embodies masculine power and authority… The shape of the paddle itself may suggest the phallus, the ultimate symbol of power in a patriarchal society” (63).
What it means is that, when subjected to this kind of punishment, the boys are being naturally prompted to a) associate the notion of ‘masculinity’ with the notion of ‘authority’, b) repress the unconscious feminine anxieties within themselves, as ‘shameful’. This, in turn, is supposed to familiarize boys with the idea that it is thoroughly natural for them to be concerned with the thoughts of domination, and consequently to increase their chances to attain a social prominence, by the time they reach adulthood. Even though Mechling’s article does not directly relate to the paper’s actual subject matter, it nevertheless contains several in-depth insights, into what creates the objective preconditions for corporal punishment to continue being administered to children.
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“The male buttocks signify both strength and vulnerability. It displays the male musculature, but it is also the site where a man can be feminized” (64). “We note that the origins of paddling (as the form of corporal punishment) in the late nineteenth century… coincides with a growing “crisis in masculinity” experienced in both England and the United States” (71).
Even though the practice of subjecting children to corporal punishment is now being ostracized, some authors nevertheless believe that there at least a few benefits to it, as well. The mentioned two articles exemplify the validity of this suggestion because as a result of having been introduced to them, one will come to realize that there is indeed a good reason for the concerned practice to remain controversial, rather than to be banned altogether. The foremost discursive premise, upon which the authors build their line of argumentation, can be outlined as follows: the very fact that this type of punishment has been used since the dawn of history, suggests it is indeed fully consistent with the laws of evolution – the main driving force behind humanity’s continual advancement. Hence, the hypothesized positive effects:
- Corporal punishment, administered (moderately) by parents to their children, helps the latter to develop the sense of social responsibility and the ability to understand the dialectical relationship between causes and effects. The logic behind this suggestion is that, while subjected to such punishment (properly administered), children are likely to think of it as ‘fair’, simply because on an intuitive level, they know that their parents do not wish them any harm, as something that has the value of a ‘thing in itself’. In its turn, this helps the punished to recognize the long-term beneficence of having been forced to go through the ordeal. The suggestion’s validity is being indirectly supported by the fact that, even though there is indeed much of a public outcry to ban corporal punishment, many empirical studies, concerned with defining the negative psychological effects of such punishment on children, imply that the practice in question is not quite as morally wicked, as it is being commonly assumed. According to Benatar: “Although there is evidence that excessive corporal punishment can significantly increase the chances of psychological harm (on children), most of the psychological data are woefully inadequate to the task of demonstrating that mild and infrequent corporal punishment has such consequences” (242). The fact that many adults reflect upon having been corporally punished by their parents in the past, as such that did them a great deal of good, serves as yet additional proof of the validity of this point of view. Benatar suggests that this simply could not be otherwise. Due to being cognitively underdeveloped, children are naturally driven to form their behavioral attitudes reactively to whatever happens to be the externally induced stimuli. What it means is that if parents are being quick enough to ensure that their children associate delinquency with pain (humiliation), it will indeed have a strongly positive effect on these children’s ability to choose in favor of the socially appropriate way of addressing life-challenges.
- Corporal punishment helps children to become emotionally adjusted to the actual ways of the world. Even though that in the civilized society, people’s violent attitudes are being condemned, it does not change the fact that violence remains the ultimate instrument of ensuring that citizens act in the socially appropriate manner – the existence of such institution as police, supports the validity of this claim. Moreover, the factor of violence continues to have a strong effect on the qualitative dynamics of the relationship between the society members – even if it is being extrapolated in the seemingly non-violent form. The reason for this is that, regardless of what appears to be the existential mode of a particular person, he or she inevitably strives to attain dominance within the society. In its turn, this creates the objective preconditions for the presence of semi-violent tensions within even the most advanced/tolerant society. Therefore, by subjecting children to corporal punishment, parents help their young ones to become accustomed to the idea that life itself is rather ‘unfair’, which in turn has a positive effect on the measure of these children’s existential competitiveness. As Benatar suggested: “There is no reason why children should not learn about it (violence). Punishing children when they do wrong seems to be one important way of doing this” (246). Essentially the same line of reasoning drives the practice of forcing children to attend the classes of sex-education – the sooner they learn about the technical aspects of the ‘baby-making’ process, the better. Similarly, the sooner the child learns that pain (either physical or mental) is the actual price for making wrong decisions in life; the more likely it will be for him or she considers the would-be consequences of choosing in favor of a particular course of action while trying to make the best out of life.
- The application of corporal punishment against boys helps to maintain society’s structural integrity. The logic behind this suggestion is that, while being administered this type of punishment, boys are expected to refrain from reacting to the ordeal in an emotionally charged manner, such as crying, for example. Thus, along with serving as the correctional tool, corporal punishment serves the function of teaching boys how to repress their feminine anxieties – something that in turn leads towards strengthening the factor of gender-differentiation within the society. As Mechling pointed out: “(Corporal punishment) performed in the carefully framed ritual… is not the product of testosterone out of control. Rather, the critics of hazing need to understand that safe hazing practices such as paddling play a crucial role in the social and psychological construction of heterosexual masculinity” (70). The reason why this factor needs to be strengthened is that, as practice indicates, for men and women to be able to form long-lasting marital relationships, they need to be strongly affiliated with the ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ values, respectively. This, in turn, implies that the process of the notion of corporal punishment falling out of favor with more and more people is not quite as objective as it may seem to be. Rather, it is being reflective of the fact that Western societies grow increasingly feminized.
It is understood, of course, that both articles cannot be considered thoroughly consistent with the discourse of political correctness, because they promote the idea that the continual use of corporal punishment on children has been dialectically predetermined. This, however, does not lessen the degree of both articles’ discursive usefulness. In the future, the authors could consider inquiring into whether the elements of corporal punishment could be incorporated into the alternative (non-punitive) methods of disciplining children.
The alternative (non-punitive) methods of disciplining children.
Discipline without Punishment
This article discusses different violent disciplinary acts that are directed towards children and their effect on the growth and development of the minors. According to the author, the role of parenting involves proactive reasoning and being in control of children’s lives to create a global citizen. The process has no specific role, but a cluster of adult responsibilities such as providing basic needs, love, and moral support in all spheres of life.
The author suggests alternatives to using violence to discipline children with the same or better results. According to the author, the first step is defining basic family and society morals that oppose violence, however mild it is. A responsible parent should make sure these aspects are internalized in their thought patterns when planning or executing disciplinary acts on children. For instance, a parent might offer corrective punishment for any unbecoming behavior by using dialogue as a correction tool with very effective results without having any physical or psychological pain on a child.
The author is categorical that using violence to discipline a child “may turn out to be harmful, especially when the parent or teacher is overcome by emotions in the process” (Wilson par. 9). The author suggests alternatives to using violence to discipline children with the same or better results. A responsible parent should make sure these aspects are internalized in their thought patterns when planning or executing disciplinary acts on children. For instance, a parent might “offer corrective punishment for any unbecoming behavior through using dialogue as a correction tool with very effective results without inflicting any physical or psychological pain on a child” (Wilson par. 11). The quotes highlight alternatives to using violence to discipline a child, such as dialogue and instigating psychological adjustment variables such as control of depression, self-esteem, and life satisfaction among the children.
Effective Discipline for Children
The article, Effective Discipline for Children, discusses moderate discipline on child development as compared to using violence. According to the authors, child development depends on a lot of factors. These factors include love, caring, provision of basic needs, and security. Reflectively, a violent disciplinarian parent is likely to put children at a glaring risk of total behavioral, emotional, mental, and social development of child physical and psychological aspects of growth.
Children exposed to violent disciplinary actions by parents, guardians, or teachers are vulnerable to depression, eating disorders, and even unending anxiety. Some of the characteristics of a child exposed to continuous violent disciplinary acts include poor physical and psychological health, trauma, fear, irresponsible, and rudeness behavior among peers.
In the ideal, “an effective discipline does not instill shame, negative guilt, and a sense of abandonment or a loss of trust. Instead, it instills a sense of greater trust between the child and the parent” (Nieman et al. 38). The authors are categorical that “parents should refrain from hurting the child’s self-esteem by instilling shame, guilt, loss of trust, or a sense of abandonment” (Nieman et al. 40). These quotes highlight the negative effects of using violence to discipline children.
The authors of these two articles do agree that parents/teachers should consider resorting to the alternative (non-punitive) strategies when addressing children’s delinquency. In particular, the authors make numerous references to the following alternative approaches to introducing children to the notion of discipline, without subjecting them to corporal punishment:
- Making an analytical inquiry into why a particular child misbehaves, to find the circumstantially justified non-punitive method for influencing his or her behavior for the better. As it was pointed out earlier, the discursive paradigm of corporal punishment can no longer be considered thoroughly consistent with the realities of today’s living – something that both authors never cease stressing out, throughout the entirety of their articles. For example, according to Wilson: “Punishment stops bad behavior for the moment. Punishment does not teach the behavior you want. Punishment does not cause good behavior” (1). The reason for this is that, in light of recent discoveries in the field of genetics, the child’s tendency to act in one way or another appears to be rather biologically than environmentally predetermined. The case of autistic children illustrates the validity of this suggestion perfectly well. After all, it does not make any secret that these children are known for their strongly defined anti-social attitudes, which at times appear to be intentionally malicious. Yet, it would prove utterly inappropriate to subject autistic kids to corporal punishment – the would-be undertaken measure will have no positive effect, whatsoever. Therefore, parents and teachers should consider resorting to non-violent methods of influencing children’s behavior. One of them would be trying to appeal to the child’s sense of rationale – especially if he or she is old enough to understand the meaning of the ethics-related terms. As Wilson suggested: “Ask the child the reason for the misbehavior before you punish. Allow the child a chance to explain. Children do not think like adults. The child’s motive may have been good” (2329-4). It is understood, of course, that this particular intervention-strategy is much more time-consuming, as compared to spanking/paddling, for example. Yet, there is a good reason to believe that parents/teachers should prioritize it when it comes to disciplining children.
- Providing children with anticipatory guidance, in regards to what accounts for the negative effects of delinquency. This idea reflects the assumption that: “Undesirable behaviors are best avoided through prevention and by building supportive structures that include clear, consistent rules” (Nieman, Alberta, Shea and Scotia 37). The best approach for parents/teachers to proceed with doing it is by holding informal conversations with children while telling them that there is a good reason for people to behave in a socially appropriate manner. Even though there can be no guarantee that the deployment of this delinquency-prevention strategy will prove utterly effective, parents/teachers should still consider resorting to it, as the means to give children yet another reason to think of adults as their friends and mentors, rather than the enemies.
- Providing non-punitive incentives for children to refrain from misbehaving. As of today, it becomes increasingly clear to educators that, within the context of a parent/teacher applying the ‘stick and carrot’ approach towards addressing the child’s misbehavior, the emphasis should be placed on enthralling the young one with the prospect of receiving the ‘carrot’. In plain words, when it comes to correcting the child, parents and teachers should never cease being observant of the fact that, due to being concerned with trying to achieve instant gratification, as an integral part of their existential mode, children are more than capable of indulging in the socially productive behavior. Provided, of course, that they associate it with the prospect of receiving a much-desired reward. In its turn, this presupposes that the important element of effective parenting is assessing the subtleties of the child’s psychological makeup – something that can be achieved by the earlier mentioned non-punitive method of anticipatory guidance: “Anticipatory guidance offers… an opportunity for prevention, to discuss the type of discipline according to the child’s developmental age” (Nieman, Alberta, Shea and Scotia 38).
In light of these insights, inferred from both articles, there can be only a few doubts that the manners, in which the affiliated authors went about arguing what can be deemed the most effective methods of addressing children’s delinquency, are indeed mutually complementary. At the same time, however, many suggestions, contained in the reviewed articles, appear rather formulaic. Had the authors provided more references to the discursively relevant empirical studies (in support of the promoted ideas), it would contribute rather substantially to the measure of these articles’ objectiveness.
Additional insights into the discussed subject matter
Corporal Punishment in U.S. Public Schools: A Continuing Challenge for School Social Workers
The main thesis, promoted by Dupper and Dingus throughout their article’s entirety, is that the appropriateness/inappropriateness of the practice of subjecting children to corporal punishment, cannot be thought of in terms of a ‘thing in itself’, in the social sense of this word. That is, the actual essence of the ethical outlook on it, shared by most people, is predetermined by the currently predominant socio-cultural discourse.
According to the authors, this is the reason why the practice in question is being considered legal in the U.S. Southern states – in this part of the country, the social influence of Christianity (the religion that endorses physical punishment of children) continues to remain rather considerable. Nevertheless, Dupper and Dingus do not doubt the objectiveness of the fact that there is a negative correlation between the popularity of corporal punishment, as the instrument of children’s ‘correction’, and the quality of living standards in the affiliated area. This, of course, endows their article with the clearly defined progressive sounding.
“The use of corporal punishment in schools is associated with damaging physical and psychological outcomes that can affect some children for the remainder of their lives” (Dupper and Dingus 245). “Higher rates of child abuse fatalities occur in states that allow corporal punishment in the schools, and students are more likely to die from school shootings in states where corporal punishment is used” (Dupper and Dingus 246).
Discipline for Young Children-Discipline and Punishment: What is the Difference?
This article discusses conflicts that might arise between parents in the process of disciplining children. The article is categorical that poor conflict management tools may lead to the use of violence on children in the name of exercising disciplinary authority. Even though most of the parents have the best interest of the child, conflict arises when they do not attend the necessary training on how to handle children (Telep par. 7).
For instance, the author discusses a conflict situation involving one of the parents and the organization on the need to attend obligatory training on foster parenting. As a strategy for managing this conflict, the stakeholders in child protection from aggression should engage the parents in foster care training to ensure that there is no conflict with the child when it comes to discipline and parenting (Telep par. 7).
Therefore, “conflict can be used as a tool for proactive child correction through looking beyond the conventional violent disciplinary strategy” (Telep par. 11). One of such programs proposed by the author is the RDRESS program. RDRESS is an abbreviation for Resolving Disputes and Reaching an Equitable Solution Swiftly. This model involves “proactive problem identification and examination of the impact of mediation on the child’s integrity” (Telep par. 14). The quotes highlight the need for proactive disciplinary actions to avoid the counterproductive results that arise from using violence to discipline children.
Both of the summarized articles are valuable, in the sense of helping readers to gain a better understanding of what makes the practice of corporal punishment to continue being used against children, even though it sparks much public controversy. In this respect, we can accentuate the following insights of relevance:
- The qualitative aspects of the concerned practice should be discussed in conjunction with what happened to be the practitioners’ religious stance: “Often, attitudes toward physical punishment reflect religious beliefs and ideas about what children are like” (Telep par. 21). Regardless of what happened to be the actual form of corporal punishment, it reflects essentially the same discursive premise – it is possible to ‘correct’ the behavioral model of a young person by making him or her associate its anti-social behavior (as perceived by parents/teachers) with the sensation of a strong emotional/physical discomfort, induced by the application of corporal punishment. In its turn, this can be thought of as the remnant of the Judeo-Christian outlook on the process of the child’s upbringing. After all, it does not represent any secret that even today, many Christians believe that it is possible for ‘demons’ to invade one’s body, to turn it into their sanctuary – something that used to be traditionally perceived, as the reason why some children exhibit a rather intolerable behavior. Therefore, it was thoroughly logical, on the part of religious people to assume that, by inflicting pain to the body of the misbehaving child, they would be able to make ‘demons’ to consider leaving it for good. This explains why the practice of subjecting children to corporal punishment is being particularly popular throughout the so-called ‘Bible belt’ in America: “The southern and southwestern states practice a traditional, conservative, Evangelical Protestant religion, in which literal interpretations of the Bible are very common, and in which the Bible is often used to support and even demand that parents use corporal punishment on their children” (Dupper and Dingus 246). What it means is that, even though the concerned practice does exhibit the indications of being hardly justified, it is likely to remain the essential part of the process of parenting – especially in the families/schools, associated with the ‘traditional’ values.
- While deciding in favor/disfavor of corporate punishment, parents/teachers should be mindful of the main psychological principles of how children tend to address life-challenges. The emergence of psychology, as a fully legitimate science, during the 20th century’s initial decades, revealed the sheer fallaciousness of the religious view on how parents/teachers should go about disciplining children. The reason for this apparent – this particular development produced a powerful effect on people’s perception of what is the driving force behind the child’s tendency to act in one way or another. It simply could not be otherwise – it is specifically the workings of one’s unconscious psyche, which define the concerned person’s individuality more than anything else does. Nevertheless, because these workings are not the subject of rationalization, there can be very little point in expecting that the child’s existential stance can be ‘corrected’ by the mean of encouraging him or her to conclude that, since delinquency results in pain, he or she would much better off staying away from the former. As Telep noted: “The child who has been treated harshly has no reason to be good. Or he may be good just to keep from being punished and not learn to be good because he thinks it is the right thing to do” (par. 6). This, in turn, calls for the reassessment of the very conceptual premise of corporate punishment. Hence, Telep’s suggestion that instead of learning not to misbehave from ‘pain’, children should learn from ‘experiences’: “Parents should tell the child before it happens, what the consequences are for breaking a rule. If the child knows that the consequence of not getting to the dinner table in time to eat with the family is not eating, then he has a choice” (par. 27). It is understood, of course, that this claim is far from being considered undisputed. However, it does illustrate the appropriateness of the suggestion that parents should pay close attention to what are the deep-seated psychological needs of their children. Because this idea is being explored throughout the entirety of both articles, there is a good rationale to think that they are indeed discursively related. The focus of additional research, in this respect, could be concerned with inquiring into what parents/teachers should do, to increase the measure of their awareness of how the child’s unconscious psyche functions.
In light of the earlier mentioned insights, as to the effects of corporal punishment on children, it can be safely assumed that, as time goes on; this type of punishment will continue being widely deployed – the practice’s very ‘convenience’ and ‘cost-effectiveness’ (as seen by parents and teachers) create the objective prerequisites for this to be the case. Another contributing factor, in this respect, is the absence of the scientifically legitimate methodology for disciplining children in a strictly non-punitive manner – suggesting that it is wrong to subject children to violence, is not enough.
At the same time, however, the measure of this punishment’s severity is likely to be progressively reduced, which in turn should come as the consequence of people’s growing awareness of the fact that administering corporal punishment to children is not only ethically dubious but that it is also something that balances on the edge of the law. This trend’s actual logic presupposes the ever increased popularity of the alternative approaches to correcting children’s behavior, such as the mentioned earlier ‘anticipatory guidance’.
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