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Use the carrot, not the stick: a view on corporal punishment - page 2 / 7





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The common theme behind these definitions is that corporal punishment involves intentionally causing physical pain as a punishment and method of changing a persons behaviour. In the context of corporal punishment in schools, the methods described in the first quote are the most likely to be encountered, and therefore the most useful for the context of this essay. It is also important to note the highlight of corporal punishment being used as a method of discipline in both the home and in school. The predominant amount of related research refers to corporal punishment within the home, however it can be taken from the definition that research in the context of using corporal punishment to change a child’s behaviour can be applied to the context of a school also. For the purpose of the essay we shall draw on the definition that Corporal punishment refers to intentional application of physical pain as a method of changing behavio , however this opposition is grounded in the context of Human Rights and as such the extent to which corporal punishment is a cruel and inhumane punishment. In the context of the school system this is likely to include, hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, pinching, shaking, choking, use of various objects (wooden paddles, sticks, or others), painful body postures, and the, use of excessive exercise drills.

Corporal punishment is a contested issue in the school system. In the context of the UK, where corporal punishment was outlawed in 1986, a common question has been ‘Should corporal punishment return to the classroom?’, often resulting in such a range of responses that it is obvious there is no consensus on the issue4, and certainly not enough to reinstate its use in UK schools. Arguments in favour of corporal punishment often refer to it as not being a form of child abuse unless it is used excessively, and that governments should not ‘dictate whether a teacher or parent should flog a child’5, echoing a Victorian laissez-faire approach to discipline. However as journalists document opinions for the implementation of corporal punishment, so to do others put forward opinions against, in particular US children television actor and producer Bob Keesham who advocated that the US should “abandon for all time the corporal punishment of our children.”6 Statistics are often meted out, for example in an article by a US attorney-at- law: ‘the 10 states having the highest school-paddling rates are the same 10 states with the highest prison-incarceration rates.’7 Qualitative cases include that of the story of Megan Cahanin, an apparent honour student in a Lousiana elementary school who quit school following the incident. This later resulted in a court case against the school.8

Furthermore many agencies and organizations advocate against the use of corporal punishment. Examples include the National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools (NCACPS), the Society for Adolescent Medicine whom produced a strong position paper advocating against the use of corporal punishment9, and the Global Initiative to End All Corporal

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