Flower

Corporal Punishment and Children

“When a child hits a child, we call it aggression. When a child hits an adult we call it hostility. When an adult hits an adult, we call it assault. When an adult hits a child, we call it discipline.”   –Haim G. Ginott, Author of Between Parent and Child

Paddle

By PicFreak (I made that picture myself) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When I was a student in a Catholic grammar school in Illinois in the 1960s almost every classroom had a “board of education” hanging on the wall to remind us of the consequences of misbehavior. This “board of education”—actually a long, wide, wooden paddle—was used to punish such infractions as goofing off in class, talking back, or perhaps throwing snowballs at recess. These punishments were administered in front of the entire class. I was lucky that I was never on the receiving end of such humiliation. Most, if not all, of the wrongdoers were boys, and they often used these paddlings to their comedic advantage. Alternative forms of discipline included ear pulling, raps across the knuckles with a ruler, and timeouts in the corner (kneeling!).

As inappropriate as such discipline might seem today, corporal punishment in schools is still legal in 19 states in the United States. This punishment is used disproportionately on minority students and those with mental, physical and emotional disabilities.

And although corporal punishment of children by parents or other adults has been banned in 44 countries, it is legal in every state in the United States for parents to hit their children as long as the force is considered “reasonable”. What is considered “reasonable” is up for interpretation, but the law tends to draw the line at the point that an injury occurs.

Attitudes about corporal punishment in the U.S. vary by region, race and social class, and opinions are divided about whether spanking is helpful or harmful to a child’s behavior. Public debate over the use of corporal punishment was ignited last year when Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child after he beat his young son with a tree branch, leaving cuts and bruises on the child.

Students wanting to learn more about the pros and cons of the issue of corporal punishment can find the information they need in SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issues.

The brand new Child Abuse Leading Issue:

SIRS Leading issue: Child Abuse

SIRS Leading Issue: Child Abuse by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

The School Discipline and Corporal Punishment Leading Issue:

SIRS Leading Issue: School Discipline and Corporal Punishment

SIRS Leading Issue: School Discipline and Corporal Punishment by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

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