Corporal punishment, though used in many countries as a method of controlling and disciplining students, is not an effective disciplinary approach. Discipline is an essential feature of schools in the US. Many schools use different disciplinary approaches ranging from suspension, security methods, and corporal punishment among others. Research studies reveal that these discipline methods are not always successful and have to be implemented with a lot of care by those charged with administering them (Cameron, 2006). Corporal punishment is used as a disciplinary approach in schools because it is believed that it can act as a good deterrent to indiscipline because of the harsh situations that students are forced to undergo. Cameron (2006) pointed out that “corporal punishment may be defined as the purposeful infliction of pain or confinement as a penalty for an offence, and the use of pain to change behavior” (p. 221). The main aim of using corporal punishment as a disciplinary approach is to force misbehaving students to undergo physical displeasure and pain so that they are deterred from repeating the same mistakes again. It can entail forcing misbehaving students to do excessive exercises, forcing them to eat unpleasant substances, and exposing them to pain or uncomfortable environments among other unpleasant situations (Cameron, 2006). Even though many schools defend the use of corporal punishment as a disciplinary approach, it is not an effective disciplinary technique because: school personnel administering it are not consistent in adhering to guidelines for using it; students may end up suffering from psychological and emotional traumas; and students may be at risk of getting physical injuries. This essay will describe the reasons why corporal punishment is used and argue that it is not an effective discipline technique based on the three factors mentioned above.
Corporal punishment is used as a disciplinary approach because it is thought to be effective to recalcitrant students. However, as mentioned above, research has found that school personnel administering corporal punishment are not always consistent in adhering to the guidelines for corporal punishment. Studies have shown that some school personnel choose to use corporal punishment with students as a way of dealing with nonaggressive acts and fail to base corporal punishment on the seriousness of students’ mistakes or the history of their behaviors. By doing this, the effectiveness of corporal punishment is not realized because it is being applied to students who do not deserve corporal punishment in the first place, therefore, making it an ineffective discipline technique. It is difficult for the concerned authorities to know whether school personnel are adhering to the guidelines of administering corporal punishment. Furthermore, research has revealed that there are many gender and racial disparities in the use of corporal punishment. For example, in the US, boys, particularly African American are subjected to corporal punishment more than any other group in public schools (Gregory, 1995). This surely makes corporal punishment an ineffective discipline technique because it is sometimes applied with bias. It has been difficult for school personnel administering corporal punishment to draw the line between disciplining misbehaving students and physically violating children in the name of instilling discipline. Corporal punishment should not be used under the guise of instilling discipline yet it is promoting the maltreatment of children who would have been disciplined using other effective ways (Grissom, 2004). For these reasons, corporal punishment has failed to be an effective way of instilling discipline among misbehaving students in schools in many countries.
Corporal punishment is not an effective disciplinary approach is the fact that many students have been reported to have suffered from psychological and emotional traumas as a result of its use. Cameron (2006), noted that an approximated 1 to 2 percent of students who have had corporal punishment used on them in schools have developed similar symptoms to people exposed to trauma. Students who receive corporal punishment are at a greater risk of emotional and physical harm. In fact, one study shows that some students who were corporally punished exhibited some symptoms of trauma, but these symptoms lessened when the responsible teachers were replaced. Corporal punishment has been proved to bring esteem issues in students who undergo it in schools because of the embarrassment they are forced to go through in front of their peers. Corporal punishment has also been blamed for breeding aggressive behavior in students who undergo it because of the brutal nature of activities they are forced to undergo. Finally, corporal punishment is not an effective disciplinary approach because it has been proved to expose students to physical and bodily harm. As a result of the unpleasant and extreme activities that misbehaving students are forced to undergo, and as a result of school personnel not following corporal punishment guidelines, students are susceptible to blisters, welts, bruises and other bodily injuries. There are rare documented cases that have shown students dying as a result of corporal punishment (Cameron, 2006). Therefore, with all these reasons, corporal punishment in schools is not an effective disciplinary approach and those using it are taking a serious risk because of the dangers that they expose children to (Catriona, 2001). Stakeholders need to sit and agree on other less aggressive, less risky, and more effective disciplinary approaches that are likely to yield better results compared to corporal punishment.
Cameron, M. (2006). Managing school discipline and implications for school social workers: A review of the literature. Children and Schools, 28(4), 219.
Catriona, J. (2001). Corporal Punishment 'outlawed' In ACT Schools. The Canberra Times, Feb 16, 2001.
Gregory, J. F. (1995). The crime of punishment: Racial and gender disparities in the use of corporal punishment in U.S. public schools. The Journal of Negro Education, 64(4), 454-462.
Grissom, K. (2004). Stop corporal punishment in our schools. Memphis, Tenn.: Scripps Howard.