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Is disciplining children with corporal punishment ethical? This topic has been going on for centuries and remains a widely argued and debated issue. Corporal punishment not only carries in-built danger of escalation, it impacts the child psychologically, infringes their right and causes irreversible damages to their cognitive development. Children as the society’s smallest and vulnerable members deserve more, not less protection from assault, and they should be treated equally with dignity and respect.
Corporal punishment infringes and denies the child’s right from degrading treatments of punishments. Corporal punishment infringes the right to equal protection by allowing children to be physically attacked in the name of discipline. Every child has the right to be entitled to protection from abuse, exploitations and violence. These three factors can influence the child’s transition to adulthood with adverse consequences later in life. With that, even a mild corporal punishment reflects a great invasion of rights and discrimination against children.
Corporal punishment will eventually lead to other or more severe forms of abuse as it effectiveness decreases with each usage. Forms of corporal punishment would include hitting, kicking, spanking, pinching, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions and using of different objects such as belts and sticks. The American Academy of Pediatrics debated that “spanking will only instantly stop undesired behaviour and it’s effectiveness will diminish with subsequent use”. To preserve the initial impact that corporal punishment has on the child, the intensity with which it was administered must be methodically increased and this may quickly escalate into abuse. When children do not comply, parents and educators become desensitised to what they are doing and they move from light slaps to hard blows. This proves that corporal punishment is an ineffective strategy to discipline children.
Corporal punishment has detrimental effects on the intellectual development of the child. Exposing the child to corporal punishment have been linked with changes in the brain structure and the child’s performance at school. Children who encountered corporal punishment at school were discovered to have lower levels of receptive vocabulary, reduced levels of executive functioning and poor self motivation when compared with children from another school where corporal punishment was prohibited. As a result, children are more likely to struggle with handling their emotions, muscle control, memory and learning capacities.
Physical abuse (PA) was associated with structural brain modifications, fractional anisotropy (FA) of the corpus collosum and attenuated grey matter volume (GMV). Grey matter which is essential for proper brain development and functioning was found to be reduced as a result of corporal punishment. And that study concluded of by stating that when children are subjected to harsh corporal punishments, it can lead to deleterious effects on the trajectories of the brain development. Corporal punishment leads to serious consequences such as abnormalities in brain development and can affect the child’s performance at school. As such, banish all forms of corporal punishment both in schools and homes and changing the teacher’s and parent’s mindset is crucial.
Corporal punishment can result in lifelong psychological damages that are irreversible. When a child is punished physically, it installs fear rather than getting the intended message across. It sends out the message of aggression and when the children reach adulthood, this will have a significant effect on their psychological health. As a result, children might feel unloved, worthless and also useless. When this happens for an extended period of time, children may grow up believing that physical aggression is accepted in social circumstances. “Corporal punishments may legitimise violence for children in interpersonal relationships because they tend to internalise the social relations they experience.” This teaches children that violence is the solution for problems. Bandura believed that physical punishment allowed children to learn aggressive behaviour through modelling. Children may continue this thinking into adulthood, causing them to hit their children to inflict pain and to influence another people’s action. What adults are trying to prevent through physically punishing, they are reinforcing it unintentionally.
Admittedly some people feel that educators are using corporal punishment to discipline the children as it is a efficient traditional tool that can be administered instantly. In contrast to other forms of punishment, such as suspension from school whereby they miss lessons and their education is at stake, they can still proceed with their leaning. Teachers can also avoid wasting time supervising students who have misbehaved. “Spare the rod, spoil the child”. This implies that if children’s personal development will suffer if they are not punished physically when they do wrong. This explains why some feel that corporal punishment as the proper way to discipline and shape the child.
Nonetheless, corporal punishment should not be tolerated as it is an ineffective discipline method, is dangerous, should be avoided at all expense even if it is time efficient or serves as the best remedy for classroom problems. It robs the child of their right, leads to psychological associated problems, affects the child’s cognitive development and increases the risk of abuse. It leaves the child feeling very degraded. Therefore, corporal punishment is unacceptable. There are many non-violent ways to discipline the child. Some examples would include appropriate techniques of guiding and counselling, restorative justice where by you make the “victim” and “offender” reflect on their behaviour and praise the child when they display outstanding behaviour, as this will encourage them repeat that desired behaviour again. Lastly it would be time out, where the child is told to stop whatever they are doing and told to calm down. They are then sent to a corner, still under the supervision of the teacher or the parent, and are told to reflect on their behaviour. Why is that with more and more information becoming available of the harm corporal punishment brings to children both in the short and long term, some countries still practice it?
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