Like debates on gender violence, racial discrimination etc, there are arguments as to whether physical/corporal punishment is effective or not. The proponents of this act (mainly the conservatives) and the opponents both have points to argue out. This calls for critical evaluation of these two divergent views before making judgment. It is important to listen to the proponents, especially teachers because of their involvement in school disciplines. From the teachers’ point of view, corporal punishment is a tradition, habit and familiarity. They claim that they had their future shaped from punishment in their respective schools. Besides they have gotten used to it as a teaching aid and may not abolish it easily. Pupils in religious schools are even more vulnerable to this act as teachers believe that punishment is approved by God.
Adults who support corporal punishment believe that it is the only way to instill discipline and respect in children. While concurring that severe physical punishment is wrong, a section of adults are of the opinion that physical punishment should not be abolished but regulated. This explains why efforts have been made by some institutions to reinforce punishment regulations. On the extreme is the absurd truth that a number of teachers and parents punish due to frustration. Due to the workload and frustrations, teachers easily administer corporal punishment on children. Taking to the global legal system, the adults argue that children with depreciating disciplinary attitudes should be punished over and over until they tow the line.
From another perspective, liberals are of the opinion that corporal punishment is a barbaric act that is overcome by time. The main argument here is that children like any other have their rights which must be protected. Besides, children are people enough to listen to rebuke, counseling and advice if done in the right way. They also deserve forgiveness and other forms of punishment that don’t inflict pain/ injury and psychological damage. Chronologically, the liberals argue a number of points that are sound and acceptable (am of these opinions).
To start with, physical punishment subjects children to extensive physical and psychological torture. Such children are in danger of facing depression, low self-esteem, rigidity, anxiety, and other psychological problems. Due to fear of punishment, children may run away from school or home. Physical punishment could also be a good avenue for a child to commit suicide due to feelings of betrayal and hatred. Any person who uses faith and religion as a cover to punish children should realize that any faith/religion that disregards human dignity through undermining physical integrity of a child is not worth following.
According to the opponents of physical punishment, it does not in any way instill respect and discipline in children. It only instills fear and timidity apart from making the children physically violent. It brings negative impacts on the future of children. Research indicates that physical punishments could cause a deterioration of trust bonds between parents and children. Children subjected to corporal punishment may develop emotional behavior, such as resentfulness, shyness, insecurity, or violence. Adults who report having been slapped or spanked by their parents in their childhood experience elevated rates of antisocial disorder, alcohol abuse or dependence and externalizing problems. Furthermore, physical punishment may cause kids to provoke suicidal behaviors later in life time. One sure thing is that children will not turn to a life of crime because they were paddled at school.
As for those who are championing for regulated physical punishment, it should not be accepted for this could be a leeway to severe physical punishment and child abuse. While the intention may be to inflict pain and not cause injury, some adults express extensive temper when they discipline a child. They may use unacceptable methods such as hands, or objects such as canes, paddles, yardsticks, and belts. There are reports of children who have been hospitalized due to severe punishments from adults. Some incidences of nobly intended punishments have even lead to death of the victims. This is mostly the case with adults who punish due to frustrations. This group should note that punishments stirred by frustrations are only regrettable. In fact, the adult ends up more frustrated due to guilt from his/her actions.
The conservatives who champion for corporal punishments seem not to be aware of the UN and Human Rights Acts protecting children from corporal punishments. These legal organizations have categorically explained that physical punishment is ineffective in improving discipline and child performance. Research may not be necessary in proving that corporal punishment is ineffective as it is an open violation of human rights. Discipline problems in schools and homes should not be the reason for physical punishment. Adults should not be oblivious of the fact that indiscipline in children result from a combination of factors. These include the child’s circumstances, home/school environment, nature of curriculum among others. Adults should therefore engage children in dialogue to seek for solution to their problems and shortcomings. If punishment has to be administered, then it should be an acceptable punishment other than corporal/physical punishment.