When corporal punishment is mentioned it garners a myriad of responses. Some favor it while others condemn it for being detrimental to the developing psychological make up of a child.
Which view is correct?
Many baby boomers, like me, will tell you that they were prone to get the occasional swat in the britches when their parents thought that they were getting out of line with their behavior. It was not uncommon to see a mother giving their child the 411 in the aisle of the grocery store when little Johnny started getting out of hand.
Today that treatment might get that mother a day trip to the local police department.
What changed the way that society viewed corporal punishment?
In the late 1960’s, the psychology field and psychological analysis started to gain popularity and notoriety in America, especially in Hollywood. The influence of modern psychological thought, fostered by behavior pioneers like Sigmond Freud began to have great affect upon traditional societal views that were held at the time.
Studies directed at determining the psychological affects of corporal punishment as it related to aggression and other developmental issues in children, began to be conducted. Some of the results suggested that corporal punishment could be responsible for aggression in the children that were studied.
Since many already believed corporal punishment was cruel and harsh treatment, it was not hard to convince many school districts to eliminate or outlaw corporal punishment as a means to deal with unruly behavior and many communities to declare it as child abuse.
But were these the right calls?
Studies conducted since corporal punishment was eliminated front schools and outlawed by courts indicate that the increased violence in schools and society as a whole, are directly related to the elimination of corporal punishment.
Many in the psychological community have said that “hitting a child” teaches them that hitting is the way to solve their problems but this is really not true. If the child takes in the full context of the entire situation, they will understand that the “hitting” that they received was the direct result of an unacceptable behavior that they displayed.
The “hitting teaches children to solve their problems by hitting” theory is an over-simplistic analysis of the situation. Children aren’t always given credit for having a great ability to put things in perspective.
The average child would not come to the conclusion that they were spanked or “hit” because that was a way to solve a problem. They would understand that they were punished because they exhibited behavior that was not viewed by their parent(s) as being proper.
Today’s child is very smart and they have superior reasoning power in comparison to previous generations.
What spanking a child does is teach them that there are behaviors that will be met with physical punishment if the behavior is not corrected which is exactly how it is in the real world.
Not all behavior is met with physical retribution but there are some instances where a physical reaction is necessary.
Not allowing children to be spanked from time to time is to deny them the opportunity to learn that there are indeed some actions that they may perform that will be met with physical resistance.
Corporal punishment does have its benefits. We don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water.
An example of the how the lack of knowing physical punishment can be administered because of certain behaviors would be the case of a police officer putting on his siren and calling for a motorist to pull over their vehicle. If the officer’s demand is not met within a reasonable amount of time, the officer will determine that they need to use a more aggressive means to get the motorist to comply.
The same would apply to a police officer on foot who asks a pedestrian or citizen to come over to them to talk to them. If that person starts running away from the officer, that policeman may call out to them several more times before they determine a more aggressive means of getting the person to cooperate is necessary.
That more aggressive means undoubtedly will be some type of physical force being exerted.
Corporal punishment as a result of non- compliance with verbal commands is a lesson that all children need to learn. Without it, they are being given a false image of the world and how situations in the world are handled.
Physical punishment for non-compliance to commands or requests is a real part of this world. Children need to learn that lesson as early as possible to avoid disastrous consequences later on in life.