Corporal Punishment in School- Pros and Cons


Corporal punishment is defined as an act of physically inflicting pain to a student as a part of punishment for doing anything wrong inside or outside the classroom. Corporal punishment means physical torture. This could be in the form of beating, canning, thrashing or even whipping. Since the culture of modern schooling begun, the problem of corporal punishment is a common feature in schools. Several incidents of such punishment have come across either by the means of the newspapers or news channels from different parts of the world. Such kind of punishment can physically impair a student for his whole life. Though there are countries that have banned corporal punishment, but still it continues in one form or the other. The debate over the corporal punishment prevailing in schools has been going on from past many years.

Corporal punishment is an act of deliberately inflicting pain on a perpetrator of a wrong in order to exact retribution and to deter similar behavior in future by creating a fear of punishment among the students. The main aim of the corporal punishment is to create a fear among the students that if they repeat the immoral or unacceptable behavior in the classroom or school premises then they have to bear through the physical pain, which in turn acts as deterrent against such behavior. Corporal punishment was for a long time considered an appropriate method for instilling discipline among the children in schools and was quite common in most parts of the world. In the latter half of the 20th century, however the scenario seemed to be changing, and growing number of states outlawed the use of corporal punishment, particularly in schools.

Today there are a lot of countries around the world who banned corporal punishment completely, while there are also countries where corporal punishment is legal and still exists in the classrooms partial or completely as some countries like Singapore have allowed corporal punishment only for boys. Corporal punishment in schools is now illegal in all European countries, except for France and Czech Republic. Corporal punishment is practiced in schools across the world, including 20 states of the USA. Proponents of corporal punishment need to demonstrate the effectiveness of the method as a tool of discipline. Opponents on the other argue that the corporal punishment may costs both physical and mental inherent in the growth of a children and at times can prove to be a real trauma for the student.

What is considered as Corporal Punishment?

Corporal punishment has been prevailing in education system even before the start of the formal education system. The act of punishing students for every wrong act has existed since ancient times and the same has followed in the modern times too. In every school there are few teachers really used to canning, beating or punishing them physically. In every school you can find out handful of teachers who enter the classroom with a stick or a wooden ruler in hand and there is a pin drop silence in the class till they leave the class. Through years, most of the teachers were forced to overcome that form of punishment but still some of them could not overcome the urge of inflicting physical pain for committing a mistake or making noise.

The term corporal punishment means physical punishment aimed at inflicting pain to the one who committed as mistake. It is a kind of punishment that affects the student’s body adversely, and is aimed to act as a deterrent. Corporal punishment includes every kind of physical punishment and this could be in the form of beating, thrashing or even whipping, which at times can lead to some serious consequences either physically or mentally. Thus, punishment of this kind is physical torture to a student and should be condemned and stopped immediately. Moreover it has also been observed that such kind of punishment may sometimes physically impair a student for some time and in some events also for whole of his life. Psychologists are of the opinion that such a punishment can affect a student mentally, for a very long period of time.

The kind of punishment used upon students can vary considerably both in terms of the severity as well as were being hit with what as well as in what context. There may be a case when a student is being punished for creating indiscipline during the class, or there may be for not performing well in a test or any other reason like making noise or being abusive. Corporal punishment may be divided into three main types:

Parental or domestic corporal punishment:

It is the kind of punishing within the family typically. In this type generally children are being punished by parents or guardians.

School corporal punishment:

The kind of physical punishment existing within schools where in students is punished by teachers or school administrators for his mistakes with a conception that punishing students for their mistake by inflicting physical pain will deter them to repeat it in the future.

Judicial corporal punishment:

Judicial corporal system is designed to deal with the minors committing some kind of crime. It is a part of a criminal sentence ordered by a court of law. Closely related is prison corporal punishment, ordered either directly by the prison authorities or by a visiting court.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Corporal Punishment

Discipline is a must for students in schools and colleges as these are the places where students come to learn. Schools and colleges are the building blocks of a student life and play an important role in their developmental process and learning discipline is one of the main parts of the learning and developing process. However, enforcing the discipline through Corporal punishment is a topic of debate from past many years. This kind of punishment was generally practiced during the medieval period, and is very old-fashioned. Moreover, it has also been argued that this is not the right procedure or technique to teach discipline to a student. There have been a lot of people arguing against the topic as well as in the favor of corporal punishment.

Advantages:

Those who are in the favor of the corporal punishment argue that the student life is the time where you can teach them discipline and behavior. Students may feel bad or humiliated at the time but ultimately this is all for their benefit, and they would realize that once they grow up. You get nothing without putting in some pain, so there is an option either work hard and behave or get spanked. That in favor says that this is all natural, a person who is ill-behaved and ill-disciplined is not accepted by society very well which also bears the pain for suffers, so why not deal with some small amount of pain to avoid the major pain in future. At the very least, corporal punishment should help maintain order in the classroom which leads to noise-free teaching and well understanding for those who are really interested in studying.

Immaturity makes it inevitable that students will misbehave at times; since most children dislike school with the punishment being associated they learn to control their behavior and senses to adapt in a classroom. They may enjoy learning, but would rather not deal with the structure of the classroom. Discipline is necessary to keep children accountable, and to ensure that the few who refuse to follow directions do not unfairly hamper the chances of others to learn essential skills and are punished for disturbing those who come to study. Any policy involving spanking must be approached very delicately. A school administrator giving a child a firm swats on the bottom when other forms of discipline do not work is indeed embarrassing, but if all it damages is the ego, spanking is undoubtedly an appropriate punishment.

Disadvantages:

Talking about disadvantages, there are a lot of disadvantages associated with the act of corporal punishment in schools. People speaking in the favor of corporal punishment in schools might say that this form of punishment will help the students differentiate between right and wrong and helps make a more civilized person. If you beat a young child, he might understand that you are angry on something, he can understand that you are displeased, but how can you teach a person to be civilized when you yourself are being uncivilized. If you beat a child up, he can only fear you, he can never respect you. There should be a relation of respect among teacher and students. If student really fears you then it is also possible that he will be hesitant to show is inability to understand certain topic, which ultimately affects his academics.  

Some teachers believe that by punishing students they tend to become disciplined and start respecting the teachers, however respect is always earned, you can’t enforce it. Teacher should keep in mind that children at the school level are at an impressionable age. If they are subjected to such kind of physical torture, they may develop a fear to approach or meet a teacher, or even attend the school. Apart from many psychological traumas that corporal punishment in schools causes in the mind of students, it hampers their creativity as well as learning process. A student who is not free to think and question can never come up with new ideas or thoughts and also it becomes really difficult for him to concentrate in an atmosphere of fear.

 At times students may feel really hurt and tend to get aggressive, corporal punishment trigger a sense of revolt and revenge in the minds of students which should not happen. For proper learning at school, a student must be free and friendly with his teachers, should be able to ask questions freely, clarify his doubts without any hesitation etc. At the same time, it is of great importance that students should respect and obey their teachers. However, this obedience and respect cannot be demanded forcibly through corporal punishment. It can only come spontaneously through deep regard for one's teachers. Corporal Punishment is a clear indication of the inability of teacher to control the students. A teacher who cannot control his students will be unable to control their minds too. Most teachers understand this and this can be a clear reason why some teachers overdo the punishment leading to severe injuries in the children that can even get them to hospital in rare cases.

Alternatives to Corporal Punishment

Corporal punishment is quite common in schools and teacher generally uses physical punishment methods to deal with misbehavior, indiscipline and students getting low grades. It is often argued whether it is the right way to deal with the problem or not, and most of the voices say that physical punishment is not the right method to deal with the problem. The best way of dealing with school misbehavior and indiscipline is by preventing it. Schools with good discipline not only correct misbehavior but also teach appropriate behavior and coping skills. Each and every student has different learning and grasping power and hence results vary accordingly. Punishing a student over poor grades is not the right way to deal with this thing, instead teachers should have an open conversation with the student and try to understand his weakness and focus on improving him rather than punishing him. Teachers need to develop a close relation with students in such a way that students respect their teachers and feel free to discuss their problems with them. Certain ways to help out are:

  • Establishing clear behavior expectations and guidelines
  • Establish a relation of respect and trust with students
  • Focusing on student success and self-esteem
  • Promote the attitude of free-thinking and doubt clarity
  • Seeking student input on discipline rules as well as teaching methods
  • Dealing with students problems in a friendly manner
  • Enforcing rules with consistency, fairness, and calmness in such a way that these are not dictated
  • Planning lessons that provide realistic opportunities for success for all students
  • Monitoring the classroom environment continuously to prevent off-task behavior, and student disruptions, and for providing help to students who are having difficulty and supplemental tasks to students who finish work early
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