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Corporal punishment

Mr Rayon

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Try this experiment. Hypothetically, we turn off the pain sensation in a child's hand so he feels no pain. Next, we have a candle in the room. The child is curious and touches the fire, but since he does not feel anything, he plays with the flame. Since we know this will bur/scare n him, we try to reason with the child about the hazard of the flame. In the second scenario, we turn his pain sensation back on, and let him get punished near the flame with pain. Which lesson will be learned quicker?


The fire has a natural cause and effect, with fire the cause of the pain, with pain the consequence of violating this cause and effect. The idea is to define a righteous cause and effect, so the entire process of cause and effect can be experienced. As long as the entire process is rational and teaches cause and effect it is the quickest way to learn cause and effect. If we try to coax and reason the lesson will take longer and may result in extra damage before the lesson is learned.


The problem with physical punishment is it is not always metered out based on consistent cause and effect. It could metered out as the result of subjective whim. At that point the child will not learn cause and effect from the lesson, but could be made irrational by the process.


For example, say a father is moody so somedays he spanks for breaking the window, and on other days he is easy going and does not. There is no point to this punishment since there is no cause and effect to be learned, other than break windows on good days. It can be counter productive.


Not all rules are rational. If you use physical punishment to teach the cause and effect of an irrational rule, that does not teach cause and effect. For example, say the parent requires all the DVD's need to be in stored in reverse alphabetical order. If the child fails to do so, "slap!!". This lesson is irrational even of it uses a method for teaching cause and effect. The child may learn to order DVD's this way, but that would only make him irrational in the process.


But if the rule is rational, like playing on the stairs with your tricycle is dangerous, "slap", this will teach the cause and effect of a rational relationship.


It is not always clear cut, yes or no, but has a subset where it works wells.

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Another problem with physical punishment is the unintended consequences. While your intention in delivering punishment may be to stop a behavior, you may unintentionally be teaching the child that the behavior should not be done in your presence. They may get very good at deception, and decide that hitting is a good way to get someone to do what they want.

Edited by zapatos
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You also cannot avoid teaching along with the infliction of physical punishment the meta-message that violence is the way to address behavior in other people that you don't like, or is generally an acceptable solution to disagreements with other people.

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When I was at secondary school (1948-1954) corporal punishment was completely accepted. Masters could give you up to six strokes of the cane hard enough to raise wheals on your backside and even senior pupils could beat you on the same part of your anatomy with a gym shoe. Two things I would say :- I used to get beaten fairly regularly so the punishment didn't seem to correct my bad behaviour but I'm sure that what would today be classed as abuse certainly hasn't blighted my life in any way either.

As far as my life as a father was concerned I would warn my children and if the warning was not heeded they would get a short sharp slap. My children are now in their 40's, they love both me and their mother and quite often say what good and loving parents we were. Oh, and yes, I stopped the short sharp slap treatment many years ago (lol)!!

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Since this is posted in the ethics section, I guess this is an exploration of the morality behind it? :unsure:


OP, when you say "corporal punishment" do you mean striking with a belt or a spank on the butt with the hand?


At any rate...


Here is an article to start with...it is lengthy:


Effects of Corporal Punishment

Edited by divagreen
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