Physical punishment has, for a long time, been used as a method of instilling discipline in children, especially in schools. Studies, however, show that beating schoolchildren has lots of disadvantages. In United States, paddling in schools sound like a thing in the past. It is illegal in some states but others still practice it. In this article, the author tries to inform and persuade the audience about his position regarding paddling in schools. Adam Cohen, the author, expresses his views eloquently and supports his position by facts and figures from various research studies and articles. Cohen argues that Paddling does no good to children and should not be allowed in schools. He advises the Congress to enact a national ban on corporal punishment in schools.
There is a long tradition of child paddling, often supported by the injunction, “Spare the rod, and spoil the child.” However, there seems to be no empirical fact supporting it. Some social scientists argue that child paddling promotes better outcomes; however, all the evidence point towards the reverse. This article informs on the negative effects of child paddling and why it should be banned.
The views expressed in the article are solely the author’s. Cohen - a teacher at Yale Law School, a writer, a former member of the New York Times editorial board, and the author of this article – has vast knowledge and experience in legal affairs, and has a legal column on TIME.com every Monday (Time 2012). His background knowledge on legal matters makes him a good commentator on this topic. The article is presented to the public, including the Congress, with the main aim of informing and persuading. Cohen informs the audience about the negative effects of corporal punishment in schools and persuades the Congress to enact a national ban on it.
The author introduces the article with a story of two Texas mothers who bitterly complained about severe paddling of their daughters by a male assistant principal. To express the extent of the injury caused, Cohen reports that the “bottom of one of the girls almost looked like it had been burned and blistered” (Cohen 2012). He defines corporal punishment as the “hitting a student on the bottom with a wooden paddle using considerable force” (Cohen 2012).
The author then gives a background of corporal punishment in schools, stating the law suits and reports by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch on the matter. He presents the findings of various studies on the issue, and gives the general statistics. From the given statistics, only 19 states still allow corporal punishment in schools, with Mississippi at the top. Cohen then highlights the resulting effects of paddling in schools, which include mental-health problems such as depression, suicide ideation and antisocial behavior, worse injuries like blood clots and broken bones, and fear in the classroom which results in dropping out of school or skipping the classes. With all these effects, Cohen is convinced that corporal punishment is not effective and should not be allowed in schools. He persuades the Congress to enact a national ban on it.
In the article “Why Is Paddling Still Allowed in Schools?” Cohen effectively convinces the reader of the negative effects of paddling in schools and why it should be banned. He achieves this by employing ethos and logos to inform the reader using facts, statistics, and polls. He also employs pathos through testimonies, which together helps in achieving the objective by allowing the reader to form his/her opinion on the subject based on the sufferings endured in those testimonies. In addition, the author employs didactic tone as a rhetorical technique.
As stated earlier, the main aim of this article is to inform and persuade. The author’s point of view is that “paddling should not be allowed in schools.” From the article, it’s clear that the author has a credible means of telling the truth of his statement. With all the proofs, he succeeds in informing and persuading the audience. His background knowledge on the topic, coupled with his writing skills, greatly helps in driving home the main message.
Didactic tone makes Cohen sound like a high scholar with credible information, which, of course, he is. This creates a sense of superiority. He is keen in his choice of words and the arrangement of ideas. This helps in the reader’s understanding and response to the information. Ethos helps in building credibility and trust. The author himself has vast knowledge and experience in law. His sources of reference are also credible. Logos help the author to persuade by means of reasoning. It also includes the use of facts and statistics in supporting the idea. Here, Cohen supports his arguments with facts and figures from credible surveys, polls, and research studies.
The author’s evidence includes secondary sources like the studies and reports by Center for Effective Discipline, Law suits, ABC News poll, and the testimonies by ACLU and Human Rights Watch and the mothers of the paddled children. Cohen actually explains conclusively how the given evidences support his argument. Whether the given evidence is true or false matters not; what matters is that all the evidences are valid and sufficient, based on the context of the argument. Every reference is put at its right place to enhance the flow of information and ease the understanding of the argument.
The use of a rhetorical question as the heading of the article also helps greatly in achieving the purpose of the article. The question “Why Is Paddling Still Allowed in Schools?” doesn’t require a direct reply. However, it is used to give direction and make an assertion. This is not a genuine request to know. The author doesn’t genuinely want to know why padding is still allowed in schools. Instead, he wants to give reasons why padding should not be allowed in schools.
The fact that paddling children has a long tradition and is still practiced in 19 States; it cannot be ruled out that it has no benefits. The injunction “Spare the rod, and spoil the child,” couldn’t have been there in the first place if it was causing more harm than good to the child. Despite acknowledging the counterevidence of this injunction, the author believes that there are no empirical facts supporting it. Cohen doesn’t deal with the counterevidence fairly.
This article was aimed at informing and convincing the reader on the dangers of paddling in schools. The author has greatly succeeded in informing, and perhaps convincing the reader why paddling should not be allowed in schools. Various rhetorical techniques have been employed by the author including ethos, logos, and pathos. The author has also employed didactic tone and rhetorical question in driving his message home. This article is addressed to the public. The advice is to the Congress, which is persuaded by the author to enact a national ban on corporal punishment in schools.
Cohen, A. “Why Is Paddling Still Allowed in Schools?” Time, October 1, 2012. Web. October 03, 2012. http://ideas.time.com/2012/10/01/should-paddling-be-allowed-in-schools/
Time Inc. “Adam Cohen.” Time, Tuesday, October 02, 2012. Web. October 03, 2012. http://ideas.time.com/contributor/adam-cohen/