Do Kids Just Need A Smack?

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I am part of a generation of students who went through the education system that did not involve corporal punishment. This is essentially the use of caning or use of other light forms of violence that was originally used in schools in the past but was weaned out.

Corporal punishment was outlawed by Parliament with effect from 1987. In other private schools it was banned in 1999 (England and Wales), 2000 (Scotland) and 2003 (Northern Ireland)[1]. I would argue that the education system would be a lot more effective and run a lot better if this still occurred.

The point first occurred to me several years ago when watching the T.V show ‘Educating Essex’, and then the follow up series, ‘Education Yorkshire’. I was watching it with my family and a friend of the family and upon watching some very belligerent children who were constantly misbehaving and disrupting the class, said friend uttered “those kids need a smack.”

I laughed at first but then realised that I actually in a way agreed with him. I do not condone violence at all, as a pacifist I would never physically attack someone and I am one who believes violence is an appalling thing. This may have you thinking “if you are against violence, then why do you want to introduce it back into schools?”

Well I shall enlighten you; I feel that just the very institution existing in schools would be enough to get children to behave. It would be the threat that would elicit a sufficient change in the behavior of classrooms. I feel this is the case because I have experienced, and I am sure many of you have as well, that there were was always a number of your classmates who were given detention after detention, verbal warning after verbal warning, and empty threat of expulsion after empty threat of expulsion, and none of these ever worked. The naughty kids would still misbehave and acted up because if they were kept back after school for an hour, they didn’t care, and why should they – it’s not as if losing an hour of the day is a big deal, in their minds they lose 9 of them a day just by going to school!

Now just imagine if the teacher came out and said “if you carry on misbehaving then you will get a caning!” That would certainly shock the whole class. Furthermore, acting badly would actually have a consequence, these misbehaving kids will think, ‘if I carry on, I will receive physical punishment, which will hurt and that will not be the least bit nice’. As opposed to ‘if I carry on being a disruption to those around me then I may get shouted at once, then twice and then ask to leave to room, hardly punishment!’

I feel by just introducing this threat, it would be enough to make children stop and think and actually stop being so disruptive to what is often the majority of people that actually do want to learn. Now yet another question arises; “but what about all those children that do not misbehave, why should they be in fear of a cane hitting them?”.

Well, the answer to such a question is obvious. Having this threat of violence would make absolutely no difference to the children who want to learn. They do not want to disrupt a class and if they want to learn without the fear of being hit, then introducing corporal punishment would make no difference in their ethos and would not change their attitude to education at all. If anything it would help them as you would get rid of the disruptive element that is a bane to them during the middle of lessons. I do not appear to be alone in arguing for the reintroduction of corporal punishment, as in a 2008, a poll of 6,162 UK teachers by the Times Educational Supplement found that one in five teachers would still back the use of caning in extreme cases [2].

So it could be argued to be a relatively popular idea. Retorts to this will come along these lines of “Of course you are for its reintroduction, you are no longer in school or college so you are arguing for something that wouldn’t affect you anyway”. In response to such a statement I would go further to say that in extreme cases you could, on a trial basis, introduce corporal punishment into Universities.

To conclude, the reintroduction of corporal punishment in school would act as a threat or deterrent to stop disruption and encourage disruptive kids to stop playing around and actually learn from their teachers who only want the best for them, and let children who want to learn actually learn.

 

References:

[1] World Corporal Punishment Research

[2] The Times Educational Supplement

  • Isaac Evans

    “It would be the threat that would elicit a sufficient change in the behavior of classrooms”
    – The only credible threats are the ones that have been seen to be carried out.

    “Furthermore, acting badly would actually have a consequence, these misbehaving kids will think, ‘if I carry on, I will receive physical punishment, which will hurt and that will not be the least bit nice’.”
    – You assume that those who misbehave are rational – were this the case, they would not be misbehaving. In the criminal system there has been little evidence to suggest that higher sentences or greater punishments deter crime.

    “this threat of violence would make absolutely no difference to the children who want to learn”
    – You also assume that teachers are always right, and always just – there will be some kids who are punished unfairly. A fear based authority is not conducive to critical thinking, or anything above rote learning. Would a clever pupil challenge a teacher’s interpretation were they to have seen others caned?

    “one in five teachers would still back the use of caning in extreme cases… So it could be argued to be a relatively popular idea.”
    – Direct self contradiction. With 4/5 teachers non-committal or opposed it’s just not a viable policy – it would mean the same misbehaviour could receive wildly different punishment, depending on the teacher, and there would be no consistent school policy – many teachers would refuse to administer canings. Also many parents would refuse to allow their children to face the risk of violence at school.

    Look to the causes of misbehaviour for a solution, punishment just doesn’t have the deterrent effect you think it does. Do some research, look at the data.