School Corporal Punishment - Justification and Criticism

Justification and Criticism

Principal of John C. Calhoun Elementary in Calhoun Hills, South Carolina, David Nixon, a supporter of corporal punishment in schools, says that as soon as the student has been punished he can go back to his class and continue learning, in contrast to out-of-school suspension, which removes him from the educational process and gives him a free "holiday".

Philip Berrigan, a Catholic priest, who taught at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, was another supporter of corporal punishment. Berrigan said that corporal punishment saved much staff time that would otherwise have been devoted to supervising detention classes or in-school suspension, and managing the bureaucracy that goes with these punishments. Parents, too, often complain about the inconvenience occasioned by penalties such as detention or Saturday school.

One argument made against corporal punishments is that some research has shown it to be not as effective as positive means for managing student behaviour. These studies have linked corporal punishment to adverse physical, psychological and educational outcomes including, "increased aggressive and destructive behaviour, increased disruptive classroom behaviour, vandalism, poor school achievement, poor attention span, increased drop-out rate, school avoidance and school phobia, low self-esteem, anxiety, somatic complaints, depression, suicide and retaliation against teacher."

Medical, pediatric or psychological societies opposing school corporal punishment include: the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Australian Psychological Society. School corporal punishment is also opposed by the (U.S.) National Association of Secondary School Principals.

The German psychologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing suggested that a tendency to sadism and masochism may develop out of the experience of children receiving corporal punishment at school. But this was disputed by Sigmund Freud, who found that, where there was a sexual interest in beating or being beaten, it developed in early childhood, and rarely related to actual experiences of punishment.

Read more about this topic:  School Corporal Punishment

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