With the turn of the century, corporal punishment has been frowned upon by schools with hope of using other means to discipline children. While this holds true and is enforced that corporal punishment not be practiced in many schools across the country of Jamaica, other schools remain upholding the practice regardless of the consequences on both the teachers and the children.
When one thinks corporal punishment, it is more or less seen as acts of severe whopping or maltreatment; however that is not the case. Gershoff and Bitensky (2007) define corporal punishment very differently. They state that it is the ‘use of physical force, no matter how light, with the intention of causing the child to experience bodily pain so as to correct or punish the child’s behavior. These actions include spanking, slapping the face, hand or other body part. It is observed that modern corporal punishment is most likely reserved for children. But why is it acceptable for children to be spanked and if an adult is spanked it is seen as harassment or abuse?
Another question is how far is too far?
Obviously we all have different tolerance levels where pain is concerned, and while your friend can take part in a fist fight and be victorious; you might not be able to even bare the fact that you have to rip a band-aid off your arm. This is similar to the pain tolerance of a child as compared to an adult. You slapping your friend might not hurt, but if you give that same slap to a child it may make the world of difference.
Where is the line between discipline and abuse?
How do you counter those persons with ulterior motives? Like an abusive father, relative, step parent or teacher? Where they project their past experiences, belief systems and even their mood therefore taking it out on the child.
There are many ways to punish children without committing physical or emotional harm. Just because our parents and our parent’s parents adapted the saying “Don’t spare the rod and spoil the child” or “If you don’t hear you will feel”, that doesn’t mean we have to carry on the tradition.
“If you talk to older person they would say that they are better of having been disciplined by their parents and how our societies were when they were growing up when disciplining a child meant giving them a good flogging. With these technologies and the rise in psychology, families are moving to other means that the ‘my mother flogged me so I’m going to flog you’; it seems to be the easiest way to discipline and a method that our parents and grandparents thought was most effective.” – Caribbean parent.
Some persons may argue that you cannot have a child grow up wayward; that there needs to be at least a balance. Alright, say that you practice grounding, taking away their most prized possession, and also punishing the child by a swift slap on the buttocks every now and then. Which one would you think is most effective? Do you believe that they are actually learning from the mistake if you do the latter, or are they just becoming fearful?
Some might also argue that bad behavior is performed as a desperate cry for attention, as that is the only way they can connect with their parents or teachers and as such the children do, in a way, look forward to the punishment. Many teachers do not realize that the child needs attention and is trying to obtain it the only way they know how. Therefore teachers need to catch on to this and try to associate giving them attention in other ways, like praising them for doing the chores in the classroom or giving them rewards if they get their homework correct.
It is noted that we are in a very violent world. Children live what they learn directly and indirectly. If they are in a violent home, they will be more violent coming into the school system. Another point is that the parents have no time to discipline their children due to working just to make ends meet in the household, so it’s left on the school’s teachers. Some fathers and mothers will do almost anything, including risk their lives to provide for their children. However, as a result they will influence the behavior of their child. While they feel that they are doing ‘right by their child’, they are leaving very negative behavior in the mind of their children to then mimic at their school on themselves, teachers and other classmates.
By Alexandra Daley