There's been a lot of talk lately about the breakdown in dicipline by parents. Daily we hear about violence in schools, lack of respect for authority, and rampant bullying. Are these reports over-stating the issue, is it necessary to go back to the old ways of allowing teachers to discipline our children?
I think all of the students of the entire school should be brought into the gymnasium each month to bear witness to the cutting off of one hand belonging to each student caught stealing, the plucking out of an eye of each student caught cheating on a test, and the beheading of those caught smoking in the bathroom. Oh wait, aren't we fighting at least 2 wars on an ideological front to stop these kinds of actions from happening and at the same time re-defining ourselves as the country that doesn't torture? Ok, maybe not the same but food for thought.
I am not a parent. If I did have a child and that child was struck by anybody, be they teacher, principal or anyone else, prior to my notification, approval, and opportunity to be there to witness or administer myself, there will be repercussions without regard to the child's guilt.
I am not against corporal punishment but feel it is a strong punishment that should be reserved for only the strongest of offenses. So if it is to be done, It would have to be justified to my approval over any other alternative forms of discipline. Also I would reserve the right to administer it myself, or to be present if it is to be administered by someone else. In fact, these days a witness either way is a good idea. If corporal punishment was justified for an offense committed at a school, I have no problem, upon my approval of it, coming in to witness it done by a teacher or other school official.
What I do have a problem with and will not approve is punishment, corporal or otherwise, being administered for offenses that are unclear or without clear consequences. As adults, it is understood, that ignorance is no protection from the law. However, for a child that you are trying to teach the difference between right and wrong to, you cannot justly administer punishment for an offense whose identity as an offense AND its consequent punishment are both not clearly defined or understood by the child prior to the offense. In other words, the goal of any punishment to a child should NOT be an unthinking knee-jerk tough love reaction to wrong actions, but to correct wrong choices.
If you only correct wrong actions, then you are creating an environment of fear, anger, and hostility. If you are correcting wrong choices you are more effectively using punishment as a tool for learning and responsibility.
Schools, as well as parents need to make a list of rules and consequences for first and subsequent offenses. The younger the child, the simpler the list must be. Parents and children should read and sign the school's rules and consequences to acknowledge agreement and understanding. Children should be made to repeat back the rules and the consequences to their parents for family rules. Remember, by being consistent as some offensive behavior made in ignorance should not be punishable, you MUST punish offensive behavior made with knowledge of the offense and punishment otherwise you will be enabling the child to break more rules.
Finally, by ensuring the child knows the rules AND their consequences, punishment can and should be dealt without much ado, as calmly as a traffic cop handing out a speeding ticket. "I caught you choosing to exceed the speed limit. Here is your citation, have a good day and drive lawfully and safely."
As a father of 4 children, 3 currently in school, I have tried just about every form of punishment. From a parenting prospective the type of punishment depends on the child, I have spanked my children a total of 10 times in 14 years. And I can tell you all 10 times were not needed, those spankings were more to do with my frustration than with the action of my children. I could talk all day about punishment, but the problem with today's school system lies more with the actions or I should say none-action of teachers and administers.
Having moved to three different schools for my children the problem is always the same, there is no communication between the teachers and parents. And by the time there is communication the problem/issue has escalated. In the age of cell phones and email, there is less meaningful communication between parents and teachers.
The last reason I feel corporal punishment should not be in the teachers discretion, is lack of equal application. But this is more symptom than a problem, teachers just don't care anymore. The lack of responsibility(?) or accountability, I don't know the correct word, has just contributed to the downward spiral of education today.
The depth of the problem with the schools will not be solved with the re-introduction of corporal punishment.
A reply to "...If it is possible, why not do it?" is because it seems it is not possible in all cases. So how do you cull the cases where it is possible from the cases where it is not possible? Maybe there should be a waiting period, or one or two strikes allowed first before resorting to corporal punishment. Make corporal punishment the top of an escalation of penalties for repeat offenses. If we make it a penalty of last resort though, I always wonder what do we do when that top penalty fails to produce the correction we are seeking?
Although not firmly opposed to spanking...I do know a family that has all three children very well behaved, and they never spank. So it must be possible. And if it's possible, why not do it?
Sounds somewhat similar to a dog's response. If you take a rolled up newspaper to them, the first time you get their attentions, but soon enough it becomes a game to them and completely ineffective. Interestingly enough too, I've found no credible "dog expert" that advocates hitting a dog as an effective way to train or correct them. Too bad throwing pop cans with a few coins in them to startle a dog to stop bad behavior doesn't seem to work on people.
Speaking of scared, I wonder how effective the "Scared Straight" program in the late 70's was or is if it is still going on. I thought it was a program, but maybe it was just a one time tv show. I've found some data on surveys taken after the experience, but I can't find any on the actual post criminal activities of the participants themselves. If I had to guess, I would say that it was probably not effective in deterring crime or juvenile delinquency or we would be hearing more about it now.
Those who champion specifically the cane have obviously never been struck with one.
Which is not to say that some form of corporal punishment should not be brought into the schools. Used sparingly, judiciously, with parental consent and full understanding of the student, corporal punishment can be a very effective tool in helping to teach discipline and to maintain order.
A very fine line is tread in the use of corporal punishment. Used inappropriately, it teaches the use of pain in the subjugation of the weak, for those of a bullying tendency. When used by those who seek to shore up their authority when they cannot come by it naturally, it can be abused. To the already rebellious, when it is used too much, it teaches disrespect for authority. One must be wise and impartial to apply it fairly and well. There are very few people I would trust with that authority.
The Cane, no. God, yes. Thing is, I don't even say God in the manner of Christianity. I say it in the spirit of the three developmental aspects of humanity. Physical, mentally, and emotionally/spiritually. I'm going to get controversial with this, so I'll let you guys decided if I post it here, or in another thread.
I graduate high school in 5 days. I'll be the first to admit i was one of the worst students in most of my classes discipline wise. I would be rude, disrespect and insult other students and teachers for the sake of comedy. I know i wouldn't be as disruptive if there was the cane or if a teacher could hit me. I also think it would make the kids, myself included, into a tougher lot. We wouldn't always complain about every piece of work given. So as someone who if the cane were re instituted would have gotten it a lot, I'm all for it
"Having a hair nazi parent is not one of those things you look back on as an adult and appreciate, because it's less about the job of raising a good human, and more about Mom's image. The kid knows that, and will remember that."