Corporal punishment is physical abuse. It is the execution of a judicially imposed sentence that inflicts physical pain on the offender’s body without killing them. In the past, corporal punishment included flogging, whipping, branding, and bodily mutilation. It also refers to disciplining children at home and in schools, but it was made illegal to punish schoolchildren in 1986.
Historically, corporal punishment was used in the ancient law codes of Hammurabi and Moses, as well as in the laws of Sparta and other Greek city-states, early Christian church teachings, and Anglo-Saxon common laws. It is still used in many parts of the world and remains in the criminal codes of several European communities. However, in the twentieth century, corporal punishment has received severe criticism. Many people believe it is a barbaric relic of a bygone age and completely opposite to present-day humanitarian ethics. With the rising crime rate, many favor the reinstitution of physical punishment for very wicked crimes.
It has been shown that many adults in England want the restoration of corporal punishment for certain crimes, hoping that it will have an effect on the reaction against an ever-increasing amount of crime. The use of corporal punishment on children has also dropped sharply. In many school systems in the United States, for example, corporal punishment has been outlawed. It is also illegal in countries such as Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway. Corporal punishment for certain offenses is very effective because it is done quickly and feared by all. Not only will it teach the offender not to repeat their violent actions, but it will also discourage them. It teaches the schoolboy or convict that doing wrong will be followed by pain and suffering.
When used justly and without anger, the giver is not brutalized. In many independent schools where it still occurs, it is thought of as a final punishment. It accustoms the pupils to the hardships of real life, and no bitterness is left after it has been used for good reasons. It is always impossible to make the punishment fit the crime. With corporal punishment, the amount can be adjusted to suit the offender.
It is much better than other punishments that deaden the mind and body. Schools that do not consider corporal punishment essential, especially for young children, substitute it with methods equivalent to terrorizing. Detentions are also harmful because they increase the number of hours a child spends indoors in physical inactivity. Restlessness is increased by enforced restraint, leading to further disciplinary offenses. Corporal punishment is humiliating and harmful to sensitive victims, while it does not discourage hardened culprits who often boast about it to friends and girlfriends, trying to impress them as if it were a battle of honor.
It appeals to the strain of cruelty that exists somewhere in everyone. If it were true that corporal punishment accustoms children to life’s hardships, then every boy should receive its benefits daily. Corporal punishment is an excuse for laziness in teachers. By using discipline instead of terror, a good teacher can continue his work when otherwise the impatience of the students would force him to change his method. Detentions are more effective because they interfere with the boy’s leisure time, which worries him far more than physical pain, and may give him an opportunity for impression.
In modern schools, there are many opportunities for physical exercise, and it’s nonsense to imply that depriving a boy of this is physically harmful. The infliction of corporal punishment on a person who regards violence as a means of achieving their ends is not likely to have any corrective action. On the contrary, past experience has shown that it will lead to a deeper feeling of hatred towards authority and society. I believe that discipline is necessary in the raising and teaching of children so that they can become social, productive, and responsible adults. Punishment is a method of disciplining, and corporal punishment is only one aspect of punishment.
Parents and teachers who resort to physical violence and aggression to control children are setting an example that children may try to follow (Bandura, 1967). This is the hypocrisy of Do what I say, not what I do,” but actions often speak louder than words. By refusing to use physical punishment, we can refine and develop other techniques that may prove more beneficial than easy and quick brutality.