Corporal Punishment  

By Yoke-Yin Chong Purcaro


            A six year old boy was shouting and running in the restaurant.  His father tried to calm him down, and told him that it is rude to shout or run in a restaurant.  However, the boy still keeps acting the same way.  Because of his rudeness and naughtiness, he then got a good spanking from his father.  “I am going to sue you for abusing children,” the boy said to his father.  The boy then picked up the phone and dialed 911.  Within five minutes, a policeman arrived. The father was questioned for about an hour by the police.  Finally, the father was arrested for investigation of child abuse.  This incident makes me wonder if this is the right way to raise children.  How can a six year old boy be allowed to sue his father because of the punishment that he received?  

            In America , too many children are growing up with bad habits - learning that it is OK to lie, to cheat, to use drugs or to hurt people.  In restaurants, shopping malls, or airplanes, we can see some children screaming, running, or battling with each other, and no one stops their behavior.  On the contrary, in different cultures of the world, such as Malaysia , the parents would warn the children first to behave themselves.  If the children ignored the warning, the parents would then punish them.  For example, if the parents told their children not to fight with each other, but the children ignored them, the parents would then punish the children by taking away the privilege of watching TV, or by spanking the children with a cane.  Some people often confuse punishment with crime or abuse.  In fact, punishment teaches children what the unacceptable behavior is, and tries to remind them not to make the same mistake in the future.  Corporal punishment is not putting children down or abusing them.  Punishment, like lightly spanking or not allowing them to play games if their homework is not finished, is healthy, in my opinion.  According to the Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, corporal punishment is the deliberate infliction of pain to someone as correction or punishment. The key word in here is “correction.”     

Why is it that some parents choose not to discipline their children? Perhaps some parents feel too tired after work, or sometimes too upset by the daily struggles of life to think straight about their children.  Maybe they think that punishment will hurt their children or lower their self-esteem.  Because of this unwillingness to hurt children, some parents would rather keep silent than pointing out their children’s misbehavior.  

            In America , it appears to be very normal to sue teachers or parents for punishing children.  Perhaps American children have too many advocates who believe in unsound principles of child raising.  This is one great thing about America : people love their kids.  They have, however, just lost the art of how to raise them.  Parents need to develop a good balance of discipline which would then lead children to listen to or to respect their parents or teachers, but not be afraid of them.  All children need guidance, applied control, and discipline.  Some children are so naughty and stubborn that some parents don’t know how to deal with them.  At this point, why don’t parents use corporal punishment?  Corporal punishment can help children deal with impulses that they will eventually learn to control themselves.

            A ten year old girl steals crayon at school.  After discovering that the girl has stolen the crayons, the teacher warns her that this is not appropriate behavior. But she keeps doing the same thing.  Sometimes she steals her classmates’ pencils, lunch boxes, and even sometimes rubber bands.  The teacher warns her over and over again, but it doesn’t work.  American schools never use corporal punishment with children.  Why has the school abolished corporal punishment? Is a child of ten too young to control impulses?  Some people think that a child of this age has no concept of stealing as being wrong.  And they think it is normal to take things that they want. Someone has to figure out how to stop children from being thieves.  In my opinion, using corporal punishment is the best way to deal with it.  Punishing children who steal by making them stand outside of the classroom is not an abusive punishment.  Raising one’s voice to ask students to keep quiet during a lecture is not wrong.  But in America , it is considered by some to be abusing children, and sometimes the teachers can be put into jail. When I was an elementary student in Malaysia , teachers used to punish students for not finishing homework, stealing, plagiarism, and making noise during the class. The punishment included caning, running laps around the field or standing outside the classroom.  

            To give another example of my point, a group of teens gather on the street. They are between the ages of ten to fifteen.  They talk about sex, and the profanities appear in their conversations constantly. The girls wear sexy clothing that are too revealing.  Some of them smoke and act like gang members. This is very common in today’s society.  Since the social problem of teens is getting serious, society needs to figure out a solution to solve it.  The solution should not be just talking or counseling, but must include some stern teaching – and the use of corporal punishment. Teaching these kids by using corporal punishment is not abuse or violence!  

            Children have to be taught; they are not born with all the social skills or the knowledge of rightn or wrong.  Little by little parents have to teach this to them.  Teaching children is not easy for some parents, and raising children is even harder.  Some parents might ask, “What do I do when my children break the rules over and over again?” Many parents notice that some children forget easily the mistakes they made.  Sometimes corporal punishment will help them learn not to make the same mistake again.  

            Personally, I think children are over protected by the parents, the government and the society.  Federal legislation passed in the 1970s required states to establish child-abuse prevention and treatment programs, forced public schools to provide education to disabled children and established new standards for foster care and child protective services.  As a foreigner, I am surprised that children in America have so many ‘rights’.  I believe that corporal punishment in America and other countries should be reinstated in the school, and in the family. Children are like a piece of white paper – it is up to all of us to decide what kind of painting we will put on it.