[thechat] The youth today... [WAS: santa question - quickie]

Chris Marsh chris at webbtech.co.uk
Thu Nov 28 09:42:14 CST 2002

> > Although my comment (quoted below) was facetious in nature, it
> > reflects a serious belief in the viability of corporal
> punishment. The
> > delinquent youth I was thinking of was that of the UK.
> There seems to
> > be no method of punishment for minors in Britain, which
> really leaves
> > it up to the individual to monitor their own actions. This seems
> > insane to me, given that most minors are delinquent by nature, and
> > need to learn values and ethics that will allow them to progress
> > successfully through life. When I was a nipper, we were caned or
> > slippered (depending on the crime) at school. Neither of these were
> > ever delivered in anger, but in a measured manner designed
> to teach a
> > lesson. You know what? It worked. There was discipline and respect;
> > and whilst we all got up to high jinks, there was little to
> no serious
> > bullying or selfish crimes against society.
> I disagree. I went to school in England for a couple of years
> when there was still "slippering" -- although I don't
> remember anyone being caned -- and I don't remember
> discipline and respect but I remember that there *was* fear.

I guess all of this type of "evidence" (including mine) is anecdotal
anyway. I wasn't claiming that corporal punishment was what was solely
responsible for the environment at my school, merely that this
environment existed and so did the possibility of corporal punishment. I
have no doubt that a lot of the respect came from the fact that there
was a very high standard of teaching at the school, although I also
believe that those inclined to seriously malicious behaviour were
dissuaded by the threat of the slipper or cane.

> -- Incidentally, our Headmaster's name was Mr. Cross - which
> I thought was an apt name for a Headmaster who "slippered"
> children and often seemed rather cross with us. --
> I think there is enough evidence that shows that corporal
> punishment has few benefits and many harmful effects. It's

I would respectfully ask for references to this evidence if it is cited
in a discussion, as without a reference I would dispute this statement.

> also more difficult to draw the line between serious cases of
> child abuse and corporal punishment especially when caning is

I don't think that it's difficult to draw the line between legitimate
corporal punishment and outright abuse, but I wuold agree that the
detection of abuse is more difficult when there are legitimate
applications of corporal punishment.

> involved. Many jurisdictions prohibit corporal punishment
> using implements or anything other than an open hand.
> "[A study] found "strong associations" between corporal
> punishment and all eleven child behaviors and experiences.
> Ten of the associations were negative such as with increased
> child aggression and antisocial behavior. The single
> desirable association was between corporal punishment and
> increased immediate compliance on the part of the child."
> From a press release on the American Psychological
> Association web site. http://www.apa.org/releases/spanking.html

I'm not sure that this really shows anything of any value.

"But, Gershoff also cautions that her findings do not imply that all
children who experience corporal punishment turn out to be aggressive or
delinquent. A variety of situational factors, such as the parent/child
relationship, can moderate the effects of corporal punishment.
Furthermore, studying the true effects of corporal punishment requires
drawing a boundary line between punishment and abuse. This is a
difficult thing to do, especially when relying on parents' self-reports
of their discipline tactics and interpretations of normative

The problem with these studies is that there is no indication regarding
how and why the parents use corporal punishment. If a parent is more
inclined to use corporal punishment on a regular basis in inappropriate
circumstances, then I would agree that it is not a Good Thing. However,
I do not see that inappropriate use of something is an indication that
it is a Bad Thing in and of itself.

> I'm just not sure that there is *any* remotely convincing
> argument for corporal punishment once a child has reached the
> age where they can make rational decisions and understand the
> consequences of their actions in the world (not the
> consequences as in "I shouldn't be bad or I'll get hit" but
> "I shouldn't be bad because that's not the way people get along").

Well, yes. But this is called adulthood, after which the "child" can be
processed in the courts. The problem with the time before adulthood when
a child can make rational decisions is that if they decide that they can
indulge themselves to any extent without fear of reprisal, then how
exactly do you discipline them?

> Anyway, that's just my 2 cents.


Chris Marsh

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