Imagine many children being permanently physically damaged and scarred by their own teachers or parents. One would think that this could only be true in a third-world country. However, this is not the case. Except in 32 countries, the use corporal punishment is legal, and roughly 50 percent parents of toddlers in the United States resort to corporal punishment. This widespread used corporal punishment has caused there to be mental and physical harm of children caused by over-aggressive and overzealous parents and teachers. Corporal punishment is also used discriminately against blacks and those with disabilities.
Corporal punishment is wrong and should be banned because it is used discriminately, can cause mental trauma and other mental health concerns, and can physically damage and deform the victims. Corporal punishment is used discriminately against blacks and those with disabilities. In states still using corporal punishment, students with disabilities can be up to five times more likely to be the victims of corporal punishment than students without disabilities, the Society for Research in Child Development reported in 2016 (Meadows-Fernandez).
This is because those children are seen as the problem child and are much more likely to get this kind of punishment. Those children can be targeted for seemingly minor infractions to make an example out of them. The problem child is at a major disadvantage; the problem child may be punished for seemingly nothing. Another shocking statistic is that black children in more than half of Alabama and Mississippi school districts are 51 percent more likely than their white fellow students to experience corporal punishment, the SRCD report found. But in one-fifth of those state's districts, black children are five times more likely to receive corporal punishment (qtd. in Meadows-Fernandez).
This trend reflects the variance by location in overall use of corporal punishment and who it used on. It reflects the culture of southerness in the United States where there is an emphasis on the idea of law and order, which makes it even worse for those students who are already labeled as problem child. During K-12, black students are almost twice as likely as white students to be expelled from school and more than twice as likely to be disciplined through the involvement of law enforcement (Anderson). This shows that the violence faced in schools for blacks is not limited to corporal punishment. The schools are overpoliced and have the feeling of being in prison. This shows how there is a school to prison pipeline in which violence such as corporal punishment seems to follow around black students. Another problem with corporal punishment is teachers can permanently physically harm the victims and there are not sufficient laws to prevent this from happening. Children have a right not to suffer degrading punishments. However defining the term degrading is very difficult because of the vagueness of term. In its General Comment No. 8 (2006), the Committee on the Rights of the Child, defines corporal punishment as "any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light," which it condemns as "invariably degrading (Lenta 700).
If any physical force to cause pain or discomfort is degrading then corporal punishment violates a child's right every time it is imposed. There are examples in which corporal punishment has shocked the masses. One example is when a coach knocked out a student's eye out of its socket with a metal lock. Another example is when a teacher physically restrained a student until the student lost consciousness and fell to the floor (McCarthy 237). There are many more examples of when teachers have taken corporal punishment, but one thing they all have in common is that they were all bound to happen. This is because the laws protecting students are very unclear and have a very high burden of proof if there is a lawsuit brought because of this. This leaves teachers to feel like they can do whatever they feel when it comes to punishment. A third problem with corporal punishment is the serious mental health concerns associated with it. One of the most common times in which parents resort to corporal punishment is when their children have engaged in aggression, such as hitting another child, or antisocial behavior, such as lying or stealing. Parents use corporal punishment to show their disapproval of children's aggressive and antisocial behavior, but they do so forgetting that corporal punishment is more likely to increase rather than decrease these kinds of behaviors (Gershoff 38).
Parents use corporal punishment to stop an action, but it does the opposite in many cases, which can cause a cycle of corporal punishment and more undesired behavior. The fact that the main time corporal punishment is used is ineffective and harmful to the recipient shows how parents have been misinformed and the misinformation on gets passed down to their kids. This is the cause of the prevalence of corporal punishment today despite it not being effective and instead being harmful. From this cycle there is much ignorance. Corporal punishment increases stress in the short-term stress that, if accumulated over time, can lead to the development of mental-health problems (Gershoff 44).
This is just one of the many mental health concerns associated with corporal punishment. This illustrates how the negative effects of corporal punishment build up on themselves and other existing problems to make the situation worse than it was. This illustrates the misinformation that corporal punishment will stop undesired behavior. In reality, it doesn't and it makes the recipient more likely to commit those acts again. However, many in the medical and psychological fields still hope that informative research like this can change the attitudes many hold about corporal punishment. More recent research has pointed toward other negative long-term effects, including, symptoms in line with post-traumatic stress disorder: frequent memories of the incidents, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety. Regular use of corporal punishment has also been associated with increased rates of antisocial behavior and a damaged sense of self (Meadows-Fernandez). Corporal punishment causes the recipients to lock themselves in very much like the shell-shock that is experienced by those with PTSD. It is very sad that the practice goes on even though it is very harmful to the recipient and makes the recipient closed off to help that could stop the initial behavior. Corporal punishment -once considered normal- still has many holding on to the practice. A study of middle schoolers found that those who were physically punished by their parents scored very much lower on a brief measure of IQ than children who were not physically punished (Gershoff 46).
Studies show that the more corporal punishment you receive the lower your IQ is. Many parents who use corporal punishment on their children have been greatly misinformed. The more they corporally punish their children the worse they do in school. In the most comprehensive meta-analysis published to date, the analyses of eleven different outcomes overwhelmingly found negative associations with corporal punishment. In total, 110 out of the 117 effect sizes or 94% found that corporal punishment was associated with an undesirable outcome (Gershoff 50).
Corporal punishment gets the desired outcome only 6% of the time. That is extremely low and should be a reason to outlaw the practice. If a law were to only benefit 6% of people and have an extremely negative effect on the other 94% then it would have strong pushback and a movement to repeal the law. However, it does not seem that there is a new law coming soon to completely ban this practice. Defenders of corporal punishment argue that if a child is punished the way they do an action the punishment will make the child resist doing that action (Lenta 696). They say a child will stop doing this action because they associate it with the punishment. This is incorrect because many times the child cannot make this connection because of their still developing brains. Instead of making that connection the child many times continues doing wrong and learns to hate their parents because of this. This argument can be used to further justify the actions of an overzealous parent or teacher. However this ignores. Another popular argument in favor of corporal punishment is that there will be no difference in punishment if there is no way to express it and the only way to express more severe punishment is through more severe pain through corporal punishment (Lenta 695).
This is completely wrong because corporal punishment does not express punishment better than other forms of punishment because many times children are not able to understand the correlation between corporal punishment and bad behavior. There are also adequate different punishments to fit the behavior. A third argument in favor of corporal punishment is that it is convenient. However punishment is to correct a behavior it is not meant to be solely convenient. This argument can also defend actions of lazy parents who will think that corporal punishment is good because it is easy. In conclusion, corporal punishment has many critical issues that make it much more harmful than helpful. The potential for physical harm, discrimination, mental health concerns make corporal punishment ineffective and dangerous. Despite this there is some support for corporal punishment, but it is misguided and is loosely factual at best. The physical harm, mental health concerns, discrimination, these concerns make corporal punishment seem like a practice from the past that was stopped a long time ago. This should be the case, but corporal punishment makes way for more corporal punishment because of the practice being passed down. Even with all the research on the negative effects, the practice lives on. The only way to stop this cycle is to pass laws to ban the practice in order to stop children from being hurt at home and at school everyday.
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