The Corporal Punishment Controversy
Corporal punishment is, quite literally, the infliction of punishment on the body. Corporal punishment goes by a variety of names including beating, hitting, spanking, paddling, swatting, and caning. Some of these terms are generic, others are specific to the severity of the punishment or the instrument used to inflict it. Every industrialized country in the world now prohibits school corporal punishment, except the United States and Canada, where there is still a large group proponent of corporal punishment. Corporal punishment may have some positive results but those are paradoxical in nature. The ultimate outcome of any physical punishment teaches a child the wrong lessons.
The deliberate infliction of pain and fear by an adult responsible for a child’s care is inevitably harmful for that child in many respects. It contributes to a climate of violence, and it implies that society approves of the physical violation of children. In addition to the risks of physical injury, evidence is mounting that the physiological effect of repeatedly stressing a developing child can negatively impact upon their brain neurochemistry, causing deficits in brain development, concentration and learning, their ability to modulate their emotions and their ability to cope well with future stress.
Moreover, corporal punishment offers such a poor model for handling conflict, perhaps it is not surprising that too many children who are physically punished learn the wrong lessons all too well. They quickly learn lessons about dominance and submission in relationships. They learn that “might makes right”. They often learn to hide their anger, resentment and shame. They may even learn to lie to protect themselves, to cheat when they can, and to steal some tokens of fairness out of life, thereby exhibiting different forms of deviant behavior (Simons et al., 2004).
Simons, Ronald L., Simons, Leslie Gordon and Wallace, Lora Ebert. (2004). Families, Delinquency and Crime. Los Angeles, California: Roxbury Publishing Company.