Spanking as a deterrent

MICHAEL RAY,

Added 16 May 2017

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CRIMINOLOGIST CHERYL WILLOUGHBY struck the nail on its head by stating “you have to discipline according to the particular child and the particular incident”.

Other people would have said, “let the punishment fit the crime”, and I have recently said, “no one fit suits every child and no one suit fits every child”.

Talking, bargaining, negotiating and compromising may be effective for some children in a particular situation, but in other circumstances with other children, variables do exist and must be dealt with in order to achieve a resolution.

It is well known that deviant and recalcitrant children are exceptional challenges to people in authority and it is interesting to hear what a few experts have to say.

As the debate continues, I present some examples in order to bring some balance to this seemingly contentious issue.

Amy Morin, a leading American psychotherapist and best-selling author, identifies five basic types of discipline and maintains that determining which type is right for one’s family should be a personal choice based on your own temperament, your child’s temperament and your family’s discipline philosophies.

She emphasised that there is not a single type of discipline that will work for all children or all families and in every situation, and a parent may have to use different techniques from each type of discipline.

Kathryn and David Anderson, co-founders of The Lifeskills Centre For Leadership in the United States, reported on 59 practising psychologists in north-western Pennsylvania responding to a 21-item questionnaire about attitudes and practices related to spanking children.

The majority said they spanked their own children, felt the children needed to be spanked and had no regrets about spanking them.

The psychologists’ attitudes towards spanking related to their contact with parents and present employment, but not to the psychologists’ age, parenting status, education or sex.

Edward L. Vockell, professor of education at Purdue University, Indiana, writing under the topic Advantages Of Corporal Punishment, said: “Even the most ardent opponents of corporal punishment should be willing to acknowledge that there are at least superficial benefits.”

He made further reference to the many well adjusted, normal adults who received corporal punishment in their formative years and nearly all could identify occasions when it “did them good”.

He also went on to say that a major advantage of corporal punishment was that it is likely to be perceived by recipients as “unpleasant”, though to critics it may sound like a disadvantage.

However, Vockell emphasised that it is important to remember that punishment by its very definition involves unpleasant stimulation and that corporal punishment involves physical rather than purely psychological pain, the impact of which is often hard to predict.

Finally, Hosbeg, a reputable online source of information, stated the following as advantages of corporal punishment:

• Helps to serve as a deterrent. When other children see someone has been whipped for misbehaving, they try not to do similar things in order to avoid getting whipped also.

• Helps parents to bring children under control. Certain children can only be controlled through a whipping.

• Helps children to become obedient, respectful, polite and so on. In the absence of corporal punishment children are likely to go wild.

• Helps children take studies seriously and also helps keep them under control.

Authorities are able to instil discipline through corporal punishment. It makes recalcitrant and stubborn children submit to authority, because they fear they may be whipped if they fail to do what is right.

Corporal punishment used sparingly, as a last resort and not in a brutal manner, is an effective deterrent in a number of situations.

– MICHAEL RAY

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