Corporal Punishment

29 Aug

The title of the article we are going to address today is:

Miss. Man’s Life Upended by 8th Grade Paddling

and it can be found at the following link:

We who have been in education have a variety of views on how discipline should be handled with those who are against corporal punishment trying to force their views on others and say that their way is the only way to handle behavioral problems. They are incorrect of course for the Bible leaves the method of discipline up to us.

The main biblical instructions we have say that when we discipline, we need to be just, fair and use mercy when needed. We are also told to treat others as we would want to be treated and that verse applies to applying punishment to children’s, student’s and even criminal rule/lawbreaking.

We are allowed to use corporal punishment if the discipline fits the crime and meets those criterion. We must remember that God used corporal punishment in his disciplining of his people throughout the OT, even to the point of removing them from their homes and national lands.

Unfortunately too many people do not read those verses on being just, fair and merciful but take too literally the most famous passage on discipline—he who spares the rod spoils the child. When those people read that passage they think that they must use a rod, or some alternative tool to apply discipline each and every time they do so.

Too many people take the easy, lazy way of handling behavior problems and that is why we have so many problems with people later in life. It is not the method of discipline per se that causes problems but the attitude behind the given discipline and the thinking of one who received the discipline. As the article says:

Advocates of physical discipline often point to it as an effective means of getting students in line without missing school time from suspensions. But new research not only questions the effectiveness of corporal punishment like spanking and paddling, but suggests it might make it more difficult for students to behave well in the future.

Corporal punishment is as effective as the recipient allows it to be. If the person receiving the discipline does not think he or she were punished fairly then they would respond to that application in a way that they choose to respond. it is not the method of discipline that is the determining factor here.

“It’s been part of these schools for decades, and the teachers and administrators are sure it works,” said Elizabeth T. Gershoff, an associate professor and corporal punishment researcher at the University of Texas at Austin. “But everything we know about how children process being hit by adults goes against it being effective.”

This, of course is just not true. it ignores the fact that maybe the child was not instructed properly on why the discipline is being applied thus they do not understand fully and that lack of correct information influence how they process the discipline administered.

In a 2016 study analyzing 50 years of research on 160,000 children, Gershoff and colleagues at the University of Michigan found the more children are spanked, even with an open hand, the more likely they are to defy adults and show more anti-social behavior, aggression, mental-health disorders, and lower academic achievement over time. Children struck with implements, such as paddles, showed even worse effects.

We are going to disagree with this as well for this type of thinking rules out other sources for that rebellious attitude and those who think this way are being dishonest in how they analyze the data, using the information to support their pet ideas instead of being honest about the role of discipline in the lives of people.

We will agree that this may be the reason for SOME people responding in that manner but not all. But these studies do not necessarily interview those who turned out okay even though they received such treatment. We can suggest that these studies are influenced by the beliefs and preconceived ideas anti-corporal researchers have when they conduct these studies so it is hard to say how true the results are.

Then when they omit other sources for those behavior patterns then we know that the studies are not dealing with the whole issue.

“The more we hit kids for their misbehavior, the more we may be reducing their neurological ability to actually control their behavior,” said Victor Vieth, the founder and senior director of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, which was created by hospitals to reduce corporal punishment.

Again we will disagree with this point of view for it focuses solely on the method and ignores how much justice, fairness and mercy or lack of them play a role in the thinking of those disciplined.

These researchers should be looking at more than the method of discipline and seek out the attitude behind its application. They should be looking at if the parents and school officials were fair, just, honest and at times merciful to see how those factors influence a child’s reaction to the punishment.

But studies have also found it’s easy for corporal punishment to get out of hand, as it did for Clayton that day near the end of 8th grade, his first year in that high school. Clayton went to the office on March 10, 2011 to be paddled for “mouthing off” to a teacher and a librarian. This time, however, court documents show that shortly after getting three strikes, Clayton fainted as he left the office, breaking his jaw and opening a two-inch gash in his chin when he hit the floor. “When I went to pick him up, my son was spitting teeth into the trash can,” Trey’s mother, Dana Hamilton, said.

This is what caused us to write this article as we see here that corporal punishment may be unfairly and falsely accused of something it did not do. It seems that he was fine after the punishment then fainted so the cause of the fainting may not have been the corporal punishment and 3 strikes is not enough to cause anyone to faint.

There are many factors that could have applied here, like the amount of or lack of air conditioning in those offices, the anxiety felt by the student and so on. To blame the paddling solely is unfair as the evidence does not show that it was the actual cause of the fainting.

There are other things we can point to  that contributed to his broken jaw and that is the position of the student, his mother and why she didn’t try to catch him and so on.

Clayton and his mom launched a three-year lawsuit against the district as a result of the incident, alleging school officials used excessive force and disproportionately targeted boys for punishment.

Unfortunately for them, they agreed to the punishment and they knew the force that those blows would be applied so they really have no argument here. Then to say that the school disproportionately target boys is unrealistic for it may be that it is mostly boys committing the violations requiring that type of punishment.

To us, it looks like the mother and son are looking to blame everyone else but the boy for we could argue that if the boy did not commit the violation then he would not have been in the position to receive the corporal discipline in the first place.

So he is to blame for his broken jaw also. Corporal punishment is not the only faulty thing, if it was applied in error, in this case. It looks like the mother and son are trying to avoid responsibility for their roles in this whole problem.

Clayton missed weeks of class while his jaw was wired shut. He missed the end-of-semester tests and was not allowed to make them up, ultimately failing 8th grade. As the lawsuit continued, Clayton became more disengaged from school; he transferred to another school, then later dropped out.

In this quote we rind the evidence that corporal punishment was not the culprit in influencing that student’s life. The words in bold provide the key. It was the decision of the school in not allowing him to make up his tests that seems to have contributed more to his future behavior than the application of corporal punishment.

So experts who make a case against this form of discipline are not being honest and not looking for the real reasons why such later behavior exists. But there is another problem in this article that is also troubling and it reads:

“I like to give kids the opportunity to self discipline and reason through it firs

How can they self-discipline? Students need to be taught what is fair and just, they do not possess those ideas on their own. And if given the opportunity most would not apply the correct punishment but let themselves off very easily. This is also an abdication of the school official’s duty to do the hard work and punish correctly

We must add that no punishment or amount of discipline is a guarantee that people are not going to break the rules again and again. We only need to turn to the book of Judges to see the evidence for that fact.

To say that a given punishment is not effective because people reoffend is ignoring reality. People, even children, have the right of free choice and there are many reasons why they continue to break the rules. It is not because the punishment is ineffective but because of the spiritual problem in each person’s life.

It is unfair and erroneous to look at those who re-offend and claim that a given punishment is ineffective. That thinking does not take into account all those who were deterred from committing crimes because they did not want to pay the penalty for their offense. Such thinking is only dealing with partial and inaccurate data in drawing their conclusions.

People reoffend because they may like the life of crime and their behavior has nothing to do with the type of punishment given them as they were growing up. The idea that the type of punishment is the cause is only an excuse, something to avoid taking responsibility for their decisions.

Or they reoffend because the rule breaking life is more fun than being law abiding. It is not corporal punishment that is at fault in every case or even a majority of cases.

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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in academics, Bible, church, controversial issues, education, faith, family, Justice, leadership


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