Play by the rules or else!It is time to completely ban corporal punishment in schools.

Audley Phillip

Author-Audley Phillip

After the much publicized story about the Principal who was hospitalized after being attacked by a parent, there has been much talk about corporal punishment at school and whether its time has come.   Maybe it is time that the Ministry of Education reviews its position, in terms of corporate punishment and take the necessary steps to  eradicate it completely from our Educational policy.

Corporal punishment in schools is an emotional and controversial topic for many people. The arguments for and against it mainly revolve around the ethics and practicalities of using physical force as a way of maintaining student discipline.

People who are for corporal punishment in schools generally take the view that, assuming the physical force is properly regulated, it can be an effective way of maintaining discipline in an educational setting.  Those who are against it generally view it as an ineffective and/or unethical method of controlling human beings.

The idea behind the practice is to control students’ behavior with pain that is deliberately inflicted, usually by a teacher or headteacher.. This punishment is given for an offense that the student has committed and serves not only as discipline but also as a deterrent against future rule-breaking

Typically, the punishment is performed by striking the pupil repeatedly with some sort of implement. For example, the palm of a hand might be hit with a ruler or the child might be  spanked with a leather belt which is a common way of administering corporal punishment in Caribbean Schools

Arguments for Corporal Punishment in Schools

  1. Because it works. Corporal punishment has been teachers’ traditional punishment tool for so long—because it is effective. There are no other means of punishment that have the same effect as both a punishment and a deterrent for misbehavior. The psychological and physical immediacy of a short, sharp shock is simply the most effective way to affect behaviour change in some circumstances.
  2. It’s easy to administer. As long as it’s properly regulated, there should be no problems with it being used in schools. Some of the negative stories cited by people who are opposed to corporal punishment were the result of failures in regulation and leadership, not in corporal punishment itself.
  3. It can be administered quickly. Afterward, the pupil can then continue with his or her learning, unlike other forms of punishment such as suspension from school when they miss school time and their education is put on hold..
  4. It’s an effective use of staff time. Unlike other forms of punishment (like detentions, when hours of staff time can be wasted supervising students who have misbehaved), it makes it possible for staff to spend more time educating or supporting students instead of punishing them.

Arguments Against Corporal Punishment in Schools
1. It is a form of child abuse. It can be considered a form of both psychological and physical abuse. It implies that violence is socially        acceptable, which is entirely the wrong message to be sending. You can’t prevent violence with violence.

2. It doesn’t work. There is no evidence that schools using corporal punishment are any more disciplined or orderly than those that don’t. If anything, the lasting effects of physical corrections are more negative than positive and undermine the teacher-pupil relationship.
3. It’s not administered fairly. There is evidence that corporal punishment is not used in an even-handed way. For instance, statistically speaking, boys are more likely to be punished physically than girls.
4.  Its “positive” effects don’t last. Physical discipline fixes a behavioral problem in the short term but can cause psychological harm or make the child more aggressive in the longer term, according to many child psychologists.
Corporal Punishment  creates a moral confusion if you tell a child that violence is wrong then subject them to physical punishment.  .   Technically, it  may make the child fear the teacher, but that’s not the same as respecting them.  . It also  causes psychological harm as many will remember the punishments well into adulthood.
Corporal Punishment  is really an out-dated way of controlling children and will present the school as old-fashioned and behind the times. It may cause psychological damage to those administering the punishment as well .

Furthermore, all sorts of rules, training, vetting procedures need to be introduced to ensure that the punishment  is carried out correctly, thereby increasing bureaucracy and expense. Things sometimes go wrong, and teachers punish children unjustly, too harshly, or can be abusive in other ways,.. Children learn from the teachers and use physical punishments on other children.  Corporal Punishment  is just plain immoral.   We don’t generally allow adults to hit each other to get their way, why should it be allowed in schools.

The Ministry of Education must take the lead and ban it completely once and for all.

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  1. Audley: I believe we need to find our way back to the African culture than where we are heading with the West. First we ban prayers in school and now corporal punishment, because corporal punishment is backward? If what is going on in the US schools where mass shooting is becoming the norm, then I dont think that we need to move forward.

    Looking at your argument against corporal punishment:
    1. a form of child abuse – the word abuse in itself would show the difference between punishment a child for corrective measure versus mistreating the child in a voilent manner. I do not think anyone will support the latter.
    2. It doesnt work – it will not work if you have parents that attack the teacher. When I was growing up, I would not even want my parents to know I got licks in school, that might make me get some more at home.
    3. It is not administered fairly – This is true and really the teacher can make a bad judgement, they are not gods. But at the same time, it might be preparation for real life because most things are not – renumeration at work and a black people we know that only too well. Even countries are not fairly treated – Is Palestine fairly treated by Israel? But the rest of the work says nothing. On the other hand, the war on Ukraine is heavy criticized.
    4. It’s positive effect does not last – I totally disagree with this. Persons that grew up in a well disciplined household usually carry over that training to their kids, that even extend into generations. I got the belt times and times again growing up and it did not make me fear my parents, it made me love them more. At the point of punishment, the child may not understand fully but I don’t go around with hatred for my teachers – I would help them in any way that I can and I received corporal punishment up to 4th Form.

    However, I do not believe it should be the 1st choice of punishment and it should not be in an abusive manner. Also, I believe there should be a means for parents to take up their grievance: first to the school and then to the ministry etc.

    • Hitting children was NOT an African Tradition. It was picked up by Africans the same way that it was picked up by Africans in the Caribbean — from the brutes that whipped their slaves.

      The Willie Lynch method of controlling slaves are actually being encouraged, endorsed and celebrated by our people because it is what we are used to. What a shame that many of us knows nothing about our own traditions before the days of brutality.

      Instant access to information is at our finger tips, it is very easy to find out what African triditions were before the white man.

      • @Sugarapple – I think you went off on the wrong tangent there. I was never the intent to indicate that we go back to the African culture to hit children. The intent was to go back to the African culture where kids were thought to be kids and to have full respect to their elders.

        I do not need to google the African culture, I have been apart of it for a number of years.

        Also, was it the slavery aspect that thought Africans to beat their kids or was it religion? Google some more.

        • @ JBF: “first we banned prayers in school and now corporal punishment, because corporal punishment is backwards? If what is going on in the US schools where mass shooting is becoming the norm, then I don’t think we need to move forward.”

          I’m not on a tangent, I wrote my opinion just like you wrote youus. Maybe you should have mentioned what African tradition were were referring to since the articles was clearly about corporal punishment.

      • @Sugarapple… The assertion that, “Hitting children was NOT an African Tradition. It was picked up by Africans the same way that it was picked up by Africans in the Caribbean — from the brutes that whipped their slaves….” is simply NOT true. Corporal punishment existed (and still exists) in West African culture LONG LONG before the arrival of Europeans. The historical records are there to prove it. Please stop the nonsense revising of history. Not because the Europeans used it as a form of punishment automatically makes it a European phenomenon. Did the Europeans use it with barbaric intent? Yes! Were they the originator and only users of this form of punishment? NO! We tend to try to conflate history to suit our agenda. Corporal punishment has been proven to be an effective deterrent for certain behaviour throughout history. Go back as far as the Old Testament in the Bible, and several scriptures speak about the need for corporal punishment. The real concern should be the manner in which it is administered. This is where the focus needs to be. Many people conveniently cast corporal punishment as abuse. They are VERY different. Done correctly, corporal punishment is NOT abuse.

    • JBF, thank you for your well reasoned piece. I love this dialogue. These times are nothing like yesteryear. I went to school where corporal punishment was very prominent. Though I was never the recipient of it, those at school who received it, it never made a big difference in their behaviour. Plus today, children are far more problematic than in my school years. I was in fact a proponent of corporal punishment at one time but i have seen its ineffectiveness and how it has outlived its usefulness. It teaches children that violence is an acceptable and appropriate strategy for resolving conflict or getting people to do what they want and as such it is ineffective as a means of discipline. There are positive ways to teach,
      correct and discipline children, which are better for children’s development
      and which contribute to building relationships based on trust and mutual
      respect. And we cannot ignore and neglect the fact that those extreme problem children can suffer significant abuse from those teachers/headteachers whom they constantly disobey and upset. I honestly think that in the interest of all, alternative methods of discipline be utilized and where appropriate, call in the parents for dialogue. Violence begets violence!

  2. Fair points on both sides in general. But, boys are punished more because they misbehave more and can cause more harm than girls and are stronger than girls so are less impacted by physical punishment. So, it is fair if they are spanked more.
    Whether or not our African ancestors used corporal punishment is irrelevant. Africa was not and is not perfect in everyway. So, why follow them blindly? I would be happy to follow any enlightened method that works from any country on Earth. But, I’m yet to see any method that turns out perfect people…

    • Overall, there are probably just as many people in favor of the status quo as there are those who want a change. Unless everyone agrees, things will probably continue as usual which is it can be used when needed along with other methods but not severely. For everyone to agree to change it, there would have to be a proven alternative that works better in every situation and there is not. So, these discussions are purely academic as it would not be wise to force a change against the will of a substantial percentage of the population. Parents who are strongly opposed can always choose to send their child to an institution that practices a different method.

  3. You cannot simply look at those for whom it doesn’t work and conclude that it never works. I’m grateful that my parents taught me not to lie, take things without permission, hurt others, disrespect elders etc. I wasn’t spanked much as a child because I learned quickly that the grownups were in charge and it was best to listen to them most of the time since they were usually just trying to help. I could wait my turn to have my own way in life. I did not walk around in fear of spankings, and overtime I realized the purpose of various rules. There is no evidence that most spanked persons were traumatized by such childhood punishment when it was done in a normal way. There is no way of knowing how many people would have turned out badly without it. Other methods can be used to get to the root of problems with more rebellious children. But, the evidence from places like the US, with it’s many school shootings and kids who no longer know what gender they are is enough to show that just letting kids do whatever they think is right is not the best way to raise them.

    • Also, although the rebellious kids may not seem to change, the possibility of being spanked acts as a deterrent to the rest of the children, just like the possibility of jail acts as a deterrent to many adults, helping them to make the right choice. There’s no way of knowing how many kids do the right thing because they don’t want to have to go to the Principal. A little bit of fear of a bad outcome is not traumatic, but helpful. That being said, corporal punishment should not be used frequently or severely or as the only or first choice in every situation.

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