Jessica Ferrante, Staff Writer
January 24, 2012
Filed under Opinion
One of the most controversial and touchiest subjects having to do with school discipline is corporal punishment, the act of physically punishing a misbehaving student.
In the 1950’s, the act of disciplining through corporal punishment was popular, with 91% of parents backing the use of the paddle on their children’s backsides. If a child were to veer out of line for instance, by either bullying or disobeying, the teacher had a choice on how to reproof them.
She could discipline the child with a paddle, rap them across the knuckles with a ruler, make them stand in a corner, have them write sentences on the chalkboard (“I will not hit so-and-so…”), or read that embarrassing note aloud for everyone to hear.
For the majority of the time, this method of punishment worked considerably well; according to the examiner.com, children who received the admonishments during their early years learned who exactly was the authority figure, and it was phased out in grades 5-6 because the children had learned to behave better. Consequently, misbehavior or back-talk in the high school classroom was uncommon. Those who came from a background involving physical discipline turned out to be “well-adjusted, normal adults” in their society.
Corporal Punishment began it’s steady decline in the late 1960’s. For what was once a nationwide resort to bad behavior, only twenty states now allow this method of punishment in their schools, as stated in an article from education.com. Administrators and educators verbally reprimand their students nowadays, trying to reason with them and refrain from yelling at rebellious kids who don’t think twice about swearing to a teacher’s face or flipping them off. Now, it’s normal for a teenager or even kindergartner to talk back and counterattack their superiors.
They know that the “worst thing” that could happen to them would be getting a detention or suspension (both of which could backfire greatly). The kid could duck out of detention by avoiding going to the appointed class. Suspension could turn into a free-day at home. Needless to say, sticking to verbal warnings and detention slips is not enough.
Contributing to the undisciplined student equation is some of the parents. It is viewed that spanking your child is bad and will lead to “emotional scarring” and as a result, cause them to abuse other people. Selwyn Duke of The New American states, “They (parents) are unlikely to view themselves as absolute authority figures but, rather, will treat the family as a democracy (without a constitution). They are more apt to want to be buddies than parents to their children.”
Compare someone who was disciplined in school and at home during the 1950’s-60’s to a kid who never received any physical punishment in their entire life and there will be a major difference.Those who readily object against corporal punishment don’t realize what the correct way to institute it is. When used the right way, it is “the usage of small and moderate force to inhibit the disobedience in children”. This means that if the adult punishes the child with a quick spank or swat on the hand and doesn’t exert undo force, they are rightly punishing them.
A verbal warning or two is good at first, but if the child resorts to their unruly behavior again, then corporal punishment is more likely needed the way some students are acting up now, it would be a beneficial choice to take the lesson from the fifties and use the paddle. Selwyn Duke makes an insightful allegory towards corporal punishment, comparing what educators are doing with their students to how effective it would be if police were to reprimand a criminal in the same way:
“Then, if a man breaks the law and resists arrest, won’t the police use violent action to take him into custody? Why should this be allowed? Can’t they just talk to him, reason, and cajole him into compliance? Maybe he just needs to know he’s being listened to.”