Corporal punishment essay Free Short Essay Example

Some opponents of corporal punishment have suggested that it is not an effective form of punishment because it does not deter those punished from further wrongdoing. If the argument were sound, it would be significant for those whose justification of punishment is consequentialist. However, the argument would have no force against a retributivist theory, according to which a punishment can be deserved whether or not it is effective.

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Corporal — physical — punishment of students has a long history, and 20 states still permit its use. What are the arguments for and against corporal punishment? Should administrators and teachers be allowed to discipline students physically? Why or why not?

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Either way, the vexing question is whether corporal punishment involves an unacceptable lowering of somebody's standing. it is noteworthy that there are other forms of punishment that lower people's standing even more than corporal punishment, and yet are not subject to similar condemnation. Consider, for example, various indignities attendant upon imprisonment, including severe invasions of privacy (such as strip-searches and ablution facilities that require relieving oneself in full view of others) as well as imposed subservience to prison wardens, guards, and even to more powerful fellow inmates. My intuitions suggest that this lowering of people's standing surpasses that implicit in corporal punishment per se, even though it is obviously the case that corporal punishment could be meted out in a manner in which it were aggravated. If corporal punishment is wrong because it involves violating the intimate zone of a person's body, then surely the extreme invasions of prison inmates' privacy, which seem worse, would also be wrong. It is true that corporal punishment involves the application of direct and intense power to the body, but I do not see how that constitutes a more severe lowering of somebody's standing than employing indirect and mild power in the course of a strip-search, for example. It is true too that the prison invasions of privacy to which I have referred would be inflicted on adults whereas corporal punishment would be imposed on children, but again I fail to see how that difference makes physical punishment of children worse. In the case of young children especially, it seems that the element of shame would be less than that of adults given that the capacities for shame increase between the time one is a toddler and the time one becomes an adult. , if we think that current practices in prison life are not wrong on grounds of degradation, then we cannot consistently say that all corporal punishment is wrong on these grounds.

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Others who are against corporal punishment say that it comes down to human rights

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There is a possible response to my arguments. Perhaps it is true that, conceptually, the message that punishment conveys is more sophisticated. Nevertheless, those who are beaten do commit violence against others. It might not be that they got this message from the punishment, but that being subject to the willful infliction of pain causes rage and this gets vented through acts of violence on others. This brings me to my third response. There is insufficient evidence that the properly restricted use of corporal punishment causes increased violence. Although Murray Straus's study suggests that there is a correlation between rare corporal punishment and increased violence, the study has some significant defects, as I noted earlier, and the significance of his findings has been questioned in the light of other studies.20 Nevertheless, Professor Straus's findings cannot be ignored and they suggest that further research, this time of an experimental sort, should be conducted. Note again, however, that even if it were shown that there is some increase in violence, something more is required in order to make a moral case against the corporal punishment that causes it. On a consequentialist view, for example, one would have to show that this negative effect is not overridden by any benefits there might be to corporal punishment.

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I have argued that corporal punishment is not always immoral. With appropriate restrictions and safeguards, it is sometimes permissible. There is a danger that the position I have advanced will be misunderstood. This danger lies partly in the polarization of views about corporal punishment, such that those who hold the polar views are not sensitive to an intermediate position. However, it is also partly attributable to the form this paper has taken. I have suggested a battery of arguments against the opponent of corporal punishment. Some positive arguments for this form of punishment were also raised. This may create the impression that mine is a vigorous defense of beating children for wrongdoing. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

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5. Adah Maurer, "The Case Against Corporal Punishment in Schools," in John Cryan (ed.), Corporal Punishment in the Schools: Its Use is Abuse (Toledo: University of Toledo, 1981), p. 22.