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

Chris Marsh chris at webbtech.co.uk
Thu Nov 28 10:09:01 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,
> Chris
> I believe that that's fundamentally untrue. I very much
> believe that discipline (ie an internally driven set of
> values and behaviours) is
> *least* effectively developed by external punishment.
> However, the most effective method involves a lot of time and
> effort, starting from a very young age.

I would agree with this in principle. I do not take the stance that
corporal punishment is a Good Thing, and should be applied regardless of
the situation or individual. I do not believe that to have corporal
punishment legitimately available to parents/schools is the same thing
as supplying a charter for adults to beat children indiscriminately.

> Remedial action involving physical punishment indicates a
> failure in the adults involved to spend that time and effort,
> resulting in the desparation methods of force, which only
> teach the lesson that might is right.

I would agree with this with the qualification that I believe that some
individuals simply will not learn to function in society unless there is
an adequate high-level deterrent to taking certain courses of action.

> But the other problem is that the only effective way for
> parents to learn how to develop their childrens' discipline
> without violence is for them to have experienced it from the
> other end. Similarly, if you grew up in an environment where
> violence is the normal method of teaching children, that will
> colour your outlook on how to bring up children - even a norm
> for the slightest of transgressions. The result being fearful
> children.

Again, I agree in principle. However, there is a big difference to me
between effective use of corporal punishment and the principle that
transgressions lead to pain.

> Example: in a 'know your enemy' exercise, Lucy and I read
> Chris Green's "Toddler Taming", which is essentially a manual
> into breaking your child's spirit and beating any initiative
> out of them. For the simple error of wanting to be up in the
> evening with their parents, he recommends that a child be (a)
> slapped and (b) locked in their room.
> Now we have friends who take option (b) of this advice fairly
> seriously, and morning after morning find their 3 year old
> son slumped asleep against the inside of their (locked) bedroom door.
> Exactly how does this develop self-discipline,
> self-respect/value, respect for authority and communication
> with parents (and if you don't have this at a young age, how
> on earth are you going to be able to talk to them as
> teenagers about sex, drugs and other fun stuff?)

It doesn't develop self-discipline, it develops fear. However, to treat
this means of discipline as equal to caning a child at school as a last
resort after the trangressor has put several other children in hospital
is not valid, IMHO. As with everything, it is a matter of degree. The
effectiveness of caning is not quantified by pain. It is to learn that
society will not tolerate anti-social behaviour. One may trangress a
number of times and be invited to learn the correct manner to behave
within society, but at the end of the process, this behaviour simply
won't be tolerated without consequences.


Chris Marsh

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