Corporal Punishment Essay Sample
Corporal punishment continues to be a hotly debated issue in the United and indeed across the world. By definition, corporal punishment refers to the act of using physical force in order to cause a child to experience pain and through this correct or control the behavior of the child. Some agree that it is an acceptable form of punishment that can instill discipline in a child while others are vehemently opposed to it arguing that it is a form of abuse.
In spite of the enormous debate surrounding the issue, surveys and studies show that it is a prevalent form of punishment in many American households. Many parents see it as an effective and an appropriate way to discipline their children (The Corporal Punishment Controversy, n.d). In fact about 94% of parents report using a corporal punishment of some type on their toddlers aged between 4 and 5. 40% of parents also report using corporal punishment on adolescents (The Corporal Punishment Controversy, n.d). According to Morris and Wilson (2011, p. 818), there is even a considerable number of caregivers who have reported using corporal punishment on children who are as young as six months.
A lot of studies have been conducted on this issue and many researchers have in fact confirmed that children who are subjected to corporal punishment when they are younger are at a risk of criminal and delinquent behavior (Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004, p. 59). This effect results from that fact that the “parents who engage in this type of behavior inadvertently teach their children that aggression and coercion are legitimate approaches to solving problems” (Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004, p. 60). Therefore, these researchers view corporal punishments as having a paradoxical effect whereby instead of deterring bad behavior, it actually operates to amplify the antisocial tendencies of a child.
This is just one of the viewpoints about the appropriateness and effectiveness of corporal punishment that can be drawn from the enormous amount of literature on the issue that is available.
There is, however, a second viewpoint. According Harris and Gibson (2011, p.819). Other studies that either focus on the use of alternative disciplinary tactics in conjunction with spanking or distinguish between mild and harsh punishment find that these factors determine whether or not spanking is associated with negative behavioral outcomes.
In fact, this second viewpoint is comparable to one major inconsistency in the studies focusing on the relationship between corporal punishment and antisocial and delinquent behavior. These studies do not take into account other parenting dimensions. For example, some parents exhibit uncaring attitude towards their children, enact poor supervision, administer inconsistent discipline and so on. These are parenting dimensions that may affect delinquent behavior but are also often correlated with the use of corporal punishment (The Corporal Punishment Controversy, n.d). The failure to consider these parenting dimensions obviously leads to inconsistent behavior and, in fact, studies that take these other parenting behaviors into consideration often find that corporal punishment has no effect. These studies, therefore, postulate that the lack of parental warmth, inductive reasoning and monitoring is a much better predictor of antisocial behavior in adolescents.
The number of inconsistencies in research related to corporal punishment are many, and this is why accurately estimating the effect it has on antisocial and delinquent behavior is currently not possible.. For instance, some studies do not consider the severity of the punishment used. For example, “research on corporal punishment does not distinguish between the consequences of mild forms of physical punishment that might be considered abusive” (Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004, p. 67). Therefore, even when it comes to estimating the effects, there is so much generalization. With this in mind, it appears that the debate on the appropriateness and effectiveness of corporal punishment is here to stay.
Some of the questions that may arise from this discussion include: What is the proper way of investigating the effect of corporal punishment on children and adolescent antisocial and delinquent behavior? Can corporal punishment be administered in such a way that it does not in any way promote antisocial and delinquent behavior?
Morris, S. Z., & Gibson, C. L. (2011). Corporal punishment’s influence on children’s aggressive and delinquent behavior. Criminal justice and behavior, 38(8), 818-839.
Simons, R.L., Simons, L.G., and Wallace, L.E. (2004). Families, Delinquency, and Crime: Linking Society’s Most Basic Institution to Antisocial Behavior. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury. (ISBN 1- 931719-30-6).
“The Corporal Punishment Controversy”. Families and Crime. (CCJ 4931). 2014.