Corporal punishment is the act of using physical force to punish a student for wrongdoing. It might involve a ruler across the back of the hand or a cane to the rear. Corporal punishment has since been outlawed as a cruel and unusual punishment. In this essay, I explore the for and against of implementing corporal punishment within education.
One reason to bring back corporal punishment is to give power back to teachers again. Teaching staff often struggle to chastise students because current punishments have no intimidation power. If they have no power to intimidate students, there’s nothing to fear and no deterrent. A lack of corporal punishment leaves teachers powerless to prevent bad behavior.
On the other hand, corporal punishment often causes injuries and trauma unnecessarily. Many acts of corporal punishment leave visible marks and bruises. The mental anguish, particularly for vulnerable students, can last a lifetime. This doesn’t have the effect of dealing with bad behavior. It can lead directly to lifelong mental problems.
There are also studies showing corporal punishment has no effect on bad behavior. They demonstrate the behavior altering effects is actually trauma coming to the surface. This can cause chronic low confidence and low self-esteem.
Corporal punishment is a viable alternative to suspension. Children often don’t enjoy school. A suspension from school can send out the message it’s a reward rather than a punishment. Using corporal punishment keeps students in school and punishes them, therefore making it clear it isn’t a reward.
There’s always the risk of it leading to abuse in the classroom, however. Teachers do differ in how hard they hit a student. There’s a difference between a 100-pound female teacher and a 250-pound male teacher delivering corporal punishment. This leads to an uneven system whereby the severity of the punishment largely revolves around luck. It’s unfair on students and only makes abuse by teachers more likely.
When a student is punished severely, parents often have to leave work to collect them and take them home again. It disrupts the school schedule and the parent’s schedule. Constant call-outs could lead to a parent losing their job for being unreliable. It can cause a great deal of damage to a family. Corporal punishment stops this from happening because it places the trust in the hands of the teachers.
Putting trust in teachers isn’t something everyone is willing to do, however. Sexual abuse is a major topic in schools and parents are rightly worried about the chances of this abuse manifesting itself. Abuse comes in many different forms. A male teacher could touch a female student on the breast and claim he was meant to touch her on the shoulder. All corporal punishment does is increase the likelihood of sexual abuse occurring.
These are the main arguments for and against corporal punishment. They discuss the practical aspects and the potential flaws of the system. I believe corporal punishment is a flawed system and there are superior alternatives to discipline, such as expulsion and community service. They offer up a punishment without the abuse.