Sunday, 16 July 2006

On Corporal Punishment

My Comment on Corporal Punishment

Ayoke at Exodus touched on the emotive subject of corporal punishment having read another blog; this is my substantial comment in relation to her write-up.

This is a difficult subject but one where differing cultures and values determine how the question of child-rearing and discipline is administered.

I know for one that I did suffer varied amounts of corporal punishment at home and in secondary school.

On the one occasion, my mother being a school principal - meaning her kids should be saints and nothing less - was administering punishment and my father intervened - "mind his eyes", he said and no, he did not stop her.

That in a way was an expression of love, though, whilst I dreaded punishment, it was not brutal, I had the knowledge that I put myself into that situation and had to avoid circumstances that put me at variance to the rules at school or at home.

Separating punishment from brutality

The problem is where punishment begins to looks like brutality and I once lived with an uncle and with my aunt were merciless with my niece whenever she lied.

That, really upset me that there was a time I got in the middle of the whole thing and vicariously offered myself instead, if they really had to vent their anger so vehemently - in my book, that was not punishment at all.

In an ideal world, one should be able to instruct a child in a clear voice without a wrangle, when you have to reason with a child before the age of accountability, there is a problem brewing and how do you administer punishment/reward to ensure the child does right?

The birch and the wealthy classes

To follow on, there is a whole history of judicial birching that is still administered in many places; I would not be surprised if public schools in England do not still use the birch. As the reference says, the wealth classes encouraged its use on their children.

The belief being it creates a modicum of mental toughness and discipline; basically, you cannot have a high pain threshold or the discipline to endure duress if there is no regulated punishment regime that impacts on the body. The sense of purpose, duty and responsibility in appreciating that you are receiving just retribution for your actions is part of that culture of education in public schools.

Other related evils

The other problem is how the lack of these types of discipline in not wanting to hurt the child is creeping into areas of competition, you cannot mark papers in red, nobody fails, competitive sport is being relegated to just participation and so on – the real world is seriously competitive and adversarial and these left-wing ideas of removing competitions and ambitious goals cocoon kids from stark realities that they would soon be unable to handle.

I cannot say, I understand the logic of corporal punishment in terms of its psychological effects and my estrangement from my parents is certainly not related to the punishments I received.

However, just as in the adult world we have rules and law which when infringed exact sanctions and punishments as fine, community service, imprisonment and so on.

How, with the child?

You cannot withdraw love from a child, but you have to enforce authority and discipline in a way that does not compromise the understanding of what rules are for.

I do have my concerns about the emotive word hit as opposed to smack - a hit - I would say is a blow to any indiscriminate part of the body, whilst a smack is administered on the buttocks.

It has to considered, determined and reviewed in context and definitely not out of anger.

Some wisdom to consider

Naturally, I am not given to violence, but like we have in a Yoruba saying - If you discipline a child with your left hand, you draw the child to your bosom with your right.

When Solomon said, spare the rod and spoil the child in the book of Proverbs, he must have witnessed something of value in child upbringing - that wisdom needs to temper every occasion offered to administer corporal punishment.

Only, in that context would I support corporal punishment - a tough love approach to loving - whilst you should definitely mind the eyes.

References

Corporal Punishment Research

Facts about Corporal Punishment

Is the Bible ambiguous on corporal punishment, the spanking of children?

Corporal Punishment (spanking) is strongly supported by God in the Bible

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