I come from a time and place (and I'm in my 30s!) when corporal punishment was used in school as much as reading, writing and arithmetic.
There was no 'witness', no phone call home. The nuns would beat us with sticks, in front of the entire class. The punishments were for anything from whispering in class to being late or getting a bad grade. The beatings were short and extremely painful and the humiliation of a public beating was long-lasting and very damaging to the mind of a young child.
It was made illegal when I was about 12 so I had 7 years of beatings behind me by then.
Consequently I am against corporal punishment for children in schools (it never 'helped' me in any way, shape or form, and drove me against my former religion) and am personally against hitting my own kids. I understand some parents hit their children and have no real opinion about it, I can only do what I do for my own kids.
The United States still allows corporal punishment is schools in many states - mostly southern, and are 'controlled' punishments, meaning the child is removed from the class, a call is made to a parent, a 'neutral' witness is found and after all this has occurred - the hitting starts. Some call it 'swatting' or 'spanking'.
Many are in agreement with it, many are not. I would not allow anyone to raise a hand to my own child, especially in front of a 'neutral witness' who is generally a fellow colleague of the person hitting! How neutral is that?! But...that's just my opinion.
Decisions based on what merits corporal punishment are arbitrary. What one person deems worth of hitting, another may not. And interpretation of behavior is also a factor. And the fact that the child has no say, or no choice, is terribly frightening to me.
The vast majority of teachers are smart, caring and kind men and women who have only the best interests at heart for their students. Many use their own money for school supplies and use up much of their free time to help further. They don't get paid huge salaries (ok, the vacation time is admittedly excellent!) and are generally a bunch of really good folk.
But obviously there are a few bad eggs in there too. Some may not even like a child and may have a colored view of the child to begin with. Or they simply may not like the child's sibling or parent and the child suffers.
A slippery slope indeed.
Another, newer form of discipline is isolation. Children as young as Kindergartners are sent into rooms with nothing but a chair, and remain there for up to several hours, depending on the situation. The media, including talk shows, are picking up on this new issue and like corporal punishment, there are supporters, and detractors.
It is a cliche - but is there a 'happy medium'? Teachers are faced with kids coming from homes with no discipline or rampant abuse, and have to deal with the consequences of that. What are teachers to do? They must have the support of parents to make education work!
And how do we protect our children in schools that have corporal punishment or isolation as forms of discipline? These forms may work - they may not. But they can certainly lead to abuse too.
What are your thoughts?
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