The usage of corporal punishment as the way of providing discipline and controlling the children’s behavior is one of the most controversial questions which are widely discussed by psychologists, sociologists, and philosophers today. These debates involve arguing on the main moral and psychological aspects of the issue because it is the problem of not only a family, but of the whole society.
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Corporal punishment can be considered as the most abusive method to control the children’s behavior which can be used by parents at home and by teachers at school because the consequences of corporal punishment are always negative for children without references to the intensity and frequency of such punishment.
Corporal punishment as a kind of physical punishment cannot be discussed as the effective method to provide the discipline, but only as the violation of the children’s rights which can lead to the unpredictable consequences in the future.
Children can experience the challenge of corporal punishment at school and at home. If the public’s position according to the usage of corporal punishment at school is rather clear and can be stated as quite negative, the reaction to the issues of corporal punishment at home can be different.
It is significant to pay attention to the fact that many parents do not consider their actions as abusive and that is why they are not aware of the existence of the problem in their families. Elizabeth Gershoff is an Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan, and she is studying the problem of the usage of corporal punishment in families during several years.
According to her latest findings, the problem of physical punishment is still current for US families, in spite of the development of discussing this question in society. Dr. Gershoff states that the American parents use the “physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience bodily pain or discomfort so as to correct or punish the child’s behavior” (Gershoff, 2008, p. 9).
Nevertheless, corporal punishment rarely leads to the expected results and can correct the children’s behavior. Instead of it, children are inclined to react aggressively or express the signs of the oppressed moods to address the attempts of their humiliating.
Thus, the negative consequences of the usage of corporal punishment as the method of controlling and correcting the children’s behavior can be divided into short-term and long-term ones. The short-term results are, for instance, the facts of children being aggrieved with the punishment.
Moreover, children’s behavior can be unimproved, and they can provoke the parents’ further negative reaction to their actions. In his research on the aspects of the conflict theory of corporal punishment, Randall Collins accentuates that parents use corporal punishment for receiving the immediate results, but the real results can be unexpected, and moreover, such a punishment cannot be morally justified (Collins, 2005).
The long-term consequences of corporal punishment are influential for the development of children as personalities. Violent actions with which it is possible associate corporal punishment often provoke the violence in response or help to form the opinion that it is possible to use violence in social interactions as the way to achieve the definite personal goals.
After the years of investigating, Joan McCord discusses such negative unintended consequences of corporal punishment as the formation of the aggressive antisocial behavior (McCord, 2005). Using corporal punishment, parents allow children using of violent physical actions in their everyday life which often leads to the occurrences of the facts of antisocial behavior at school and in society.
Moreover, possible mental health problems in the future also can be considered as the long-term consequences of corporal punishment. When parents decide to punish their children physically they do not understand all the negative effects of their actions.
Murray Straus in his studies of the development of corporal punishment in the USA states that many parents do not see the possible effects of their immediate actions when they choose corporal punishment instead of simple explanations and warm conversations with their children. Focusing on corporal punishment, parents create the atmosphere of mistrust in their family.
According to Straus, those children who suffer from the facts of corporal punishment at home also have many psychological problems which can develop in the mental health problems (Straus, 2001).
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The researchers agree that physically punished children often suffer from depressions and fears of being punished which can result in their low self-esteem and the feeling of the lack of personal safety. They also can choose anxiety and rigidity as the ways to react the problems and life challenges (McCord, 2005; Straus, 2001).
The issue of corporal punishment in families requires its further discussion by the researchers in order to provide the effective system of the alternate ways to control and correct the children’s behavior. Parents should not consider corporal punishment as the most quick and effective way to control the child because this method not only ineffective but also risky because of a number of its negative effects. Moreover, the usage of corporal punishment breaks the human rights, moral and ethic norms.
Collins, R. (2005). Conflict theory of corporal punishment. In M. Donnelly & M. Straus (Eds.), Corporal punishment of children in theoretical perspective (pp. 199-214). USA: Yale University Press.
Gershoff, E. T. (2008). Report on physical punishment in the United States: What research tells us about its effects on children. Columbus OH: Center for Effective Discipline.
McCord, J. (2005). Unintended consequences of punishment. In M. Donnelly & M. Straus (Eds.), Corporal punishment of children in theoretical perspective (pp. 165-170). USA: Yale University Press.
Straus, M. A. (2001). Beating the devil out of them: Physical punishment in American families. Piscataway NJ: Transaction Publishers.