Muse n' Motivation

The Thinking Blog!

Corporally Yours: Fair Form of Justice?

Rouvanjit Rawla is certainly not in a place where a young child like him should be (having committed suicide). But, whatever be the reason for his unfortunate demise (spanking by master/teacher,  probable fear of parents’ reprimand-it is reported in certain sections that his parents were called in for a prank that he had played in school, depression); it is really a sad state of things. No little life should be blown out like this. But, we still have a lot of things to review, to reflect about spanking of children.

Spanking a child comes naturally to most parents when things go beyond control. In fact, when children do not respond to verbal warnings or light groundings then, the spanking technique comes in handy for many a parent. Used for generations to get a child to be obedient or prevent him/her from straying onto the wrong path, it has been used successfully. But of late, there have been protests against this method of reforming a child especially because of innumerable cases of abuse by parent/teacher at home and in school. Where does disciplining end and abuse start? When does that little spanking become a case of physically and mentally affecting a child’s psyche? Why does a method that served well in yesteryears suddenly not hold well anymore? Or is it that people are getting too sensitive? Is it good or bad for the child?

Spare the rod and….

Today, many people think that sparing the rod indeed helps especially in view of incidents wherein children have been traumatized by a teacher who has gone overboard. Some children have been handicapped for life while still others carry the trauma for years, bearing the mental bruises even in their adulthood. Corporal punishment as it is officially known has been used for years. It is the normal reaction of most adults when they cannot tolerate a child’s misbehaviour any longer. But who will justify the teacher’s act of justice?  Who will ever know when the teacher has used corporal punishment as a sadistic means to a prejudiced thought against a child?

I remember the times I have been spanked and till date have not committed the act for which I was punished. It is presumed rightly at times, that a parent will be wise enough to try verbal persuasion to mend a child’s bad habit or misbehaviour and if not successful then use that little wack to send the message across. The parent is usually aware when he/she is crossing the line of proper physical punishment. And, it is understood that the child is explained why he/she is given this form of punishment. Once the child understands why he/she has been given that wack, it can be rest assured that he/she will not commit the same mistake again. Of course, it is assumed that the hand lifted to physically punish the child also rises to hug the child and express love and care whenever necessary.

But the situation is changing today. We hear of several cases where children have been abused for acts they are not guilty of or, that did not justify a very strict corporal punishment. Those against this form of corporal punishment feel that a child could be provoked into more bad behaviour rebelling against such a form of punishment. Of course, physical harm is always there. Still others feel that it could harm the self esteem and confidence which is so very essential for the overall development of a child. Children get to learn that a beating is the best way to enforce something in life. Who knows, when they grow up into adults they may consider physical punishment a better alternative to verbal interaction! No wonder, many countries have enforced laws wherein parents and teachers cannot raise their hands on the children. It is regarded as an offence and they could be jailed too.

On the flip side, we get to see children who have never been spanked growing up into spoiled brats because they know that they can get away with anything. Parents of these children threaten teachers in schools. No wonder, we have less number of children who really follow the values of teacher-student relationship. The spanking fear is never there. By this I do not suggest that a child must always grow up in fear of a physical punishment. But at least, that worry could help them in times when clarity of mind deceives them influenced by peer pressure or the environment.

Maybe, what worked yesterday does not work today. Today, we have more competition, more pressure and tension for parents and children. Today, there is much more exposure to all sorts of things. Today, the child is not as strong and simple as children were in the earlier generations. So, does that mean that the laws of punishment that applied to us do not apply to them?  Can no physical punishment guarantee a happy and successful child? That is something to reflect upon.

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14 Comments

  1. Very thought-provoking post. This is an age-old issue, and there is never a ‘perfect’ solution. Personally, I have hardly been spanked as a Kid, but then I was also a very timid and non-problematic kid. There was no reason to spank me, if one could ignore the sometimes bad marks at school 😉

    We need to remember two things here:
    1- Each child is different. Some are really difficult children. They simply do not listen if the parents talk sternly or yell. They sometimes NEED a little spank to bring them back to their senses and calm them down.
    2- Each parent is a human too. We do expect parents to be perfect. Guess what? They are not. They cannot be!! Because they are human too.

    So I guess it is a question of balancing things out. An angry parent must remember to not hurt his/her child. An out-of-control child must equally, learn to behave and be obedient to his/her parents. Most times, it becomes a trial and error method.

    Now having said that, it is true that a child who is spanked regularly, believes that ‘HITTING IS ACCEPTABLE’ and that can be a very dangerous thing, as parents are themselves, unwittingly, teaching the child that resorting to violence is alright and acceptable!!!

  2. As regards corporal punishment in schools – that is a DEFINITE NO-NO. It humiliates children and deflates their confidence, in addition to the physical harm it does. A teacher who hits a child, must be thrown out of the school at once. He/she does not deserve to be in the noble profession of education.

  3. knot2share

    I agree with Pallavi here. A timely spank is fine to just drive the fact and that should suffice. I think sometimes we take all our frustration on the child too which is so unfair. Like you said, I have been spanked as a child many times but it has not made me fear my parents or make me consider any extreme action. I know of friends too who have brought up their children without this type of punishment and the kids have grown up into such beautiful well behaved kids. It might be time that we said a big NO to spanking, keeping in mind all the severe effect on the child when it goes out of control. We may think that it is not out of control, but one never knows what is going on in the child’s mind. It is too high a risk to leave it loose.

  4. Sneha

    Contradicting views here, Shail…but I do not really advocate punishment through physical harm by parents or teachers. I can shout, advice, but until things don’t go OUT OF HAND, I wouldn’t want to raise the stick.
    I’m still traumatized by the childhood punishments I used to get. Talk about childhood experiences resurfacing in youth.

  5. Bhargavi

    Shail,
    Regarding this issue, I heard a speaker who quoted that in those days, in schools, teachers would make the students run through the school ground or do the “brain Yoga’what we call it today, to divert that energy which makes them do certain things, not acceptable, into a constructive way.

    It is better if we follow similar types of productive punishment, than spanking.

  6. Pallavi :
    Very thought-provoking post. This is an age-old issue, and there is never a ‘perfect’ solution. Personally, I have hardly been spanked as a Kid, but then I was also a very timid and non-problematic kid. There was no reason to spank me, if one could ignore the sometimes bad marks at school
    Hi Pallavi. So nice to see you here.
    I agree with what you say:

    “Each child is different. Some are really difficult children.”
    “Each parent is a human too. We do expect parents to be perfect.”

    True, that balance is needed. We need not go on a violent rampage just to reform a child. But the fact is today’s children are either too sensitive or too indifferent. Maybe, we parents have erred somewhere. Or is it that the general society scenario is such?
    We need to remember two things here:
    1- Each child is different. Some are really difficult children. They simply do not listen if the parents talk sternly or yell. They sometimes NEED a little spank to bring them back to their senses and calm them down.
    2- Each parent is a human too. We do expect parents to be perfect. Guess what? They are not. They cannot be!! Because they are human too.
    So I guess it is a question of balancing things out. An angry parent must remember to not hurt his/her child. An out-of-control child must equally, learn to behave and be obedient to his/her parents. Most times, it becomes a trial and error method.
    Now having said that, it is true that a child who is spanked regularly, believes that ‘HITTING IS ACCEPTABLE’ and that can be a very dangerous thing, as parents are themselves, unwittingly, teaching the child that resorting to violence is alright and acceptable!!!

  7. Pallavi :
    As regards corporal punishment in schools – that is a DEFINITE NO-NO. It humiliates children and deflates their confidence, in addition to the physical harm it does. A teacher who hits a child, must be thrown out of the school at once. He/she does not deserve to be in the noble profession of education.

    Yes, Pallavi. Hitting children to prove a point is indeed bad but I wouldn’t rule out that tiny little wack on the legs or the palms. Sometimes, children in school can really make you blow your top off by creating problems knowing fully well that you won’t be physically harming them! I know of students who have gotten really spoilt this way.

  8. knot2share :
    I agree with Pallavi here. A timely spank is fine to just drive the fact and that should suffice. I think sometimes we take all our frustration on the child too which is so unfair. Like you said, I have been spanked as a child many times but it has not made me fear my parents or make me consider any extreme action. I know of friends too who have brought up their children without this type of punishment and the kids have grown up into such beautiful well behaved kids. It might be time that we said a big NO to spanking, keeping in mind all the severe effect on the child when it goes out of control. We may think that it is not out of control, but one never knows what is going on in the child’s mind. It is too high a risk to leave it loose.

    Hi Shree,

    Yes, I agree. Nothing is worth losing our children. But then, we must not lose our children to the ill effects of bad influence and lack of values which does happen when everyone (parents and teachers included) carry on with their duties irrespective of the fact whether the child is behaving well or not. More than excellent academic students we want our children to be good humane citizens of the country and the world. Don’t you think so?
    I don’t suggest uncontrollable spanking. I am totally against people (parents and teachers) exercising their so called right to traumatize children in the name of discipline!

  9. Sneha :
    Contradicting views here, Shail…but I do not really advocate punishment through physical harm by parents or teachers. I can shout, advice, but until things don’t go OUT OF HAND, I wouldn’t want to raise the stick.
    I’m still traumatized by the childhood punishments I used to get. Talk about childhood experiences resurfacing

    Hi Sneha,
    Long time no see!

    I too prefer to scold or even shout if the need arises but wacking comes last on my list too. Thankfully, unlike you, I have no traumatizing experiences as a child even though I was taught to behave many a time with the ruler. I am in fact thankful to that because I knew whenever I crossed the line.

  10. Bhargavi :
    Shail,
    Regarding this issue, I heard a speaker who quoted that in those days, in schools, teachers would make the students run through the school ground or do the “brain Yoga’what we call it today, to divert that energy which makes them do certain things, not acceptable, into a constructive way.
    It is better if we follow similar types of productive punishment, than spanking.

    Hi Bhargavi,

    Yes, that brain yoga thing is great. I have gone through that in school and it used to prove to be very effective. I never committed the same mistake again after such punishments. I agree with your ‘productive punishment’ but who cares today?

  11. Sneha

    Yes, Shail. Been ‘stuck’ (literally) with family issues. I’m so jammed up! Wish I could fly somewhere !!

  12. Sneha :
    Yes, Shail. Been ‘stuck’ (literally) with family issues. I’m so jammed up! Wish I could fly somewhere !!

    Hi Sneha,

    Don’t worry. Things will get better. God tests most those he loves the best.
    You are courageous, I know that.
    Take care.
    Shail

  13. Sneha

    Thanks Shail. Those words help!

  14. Sneha :
    Thanks Shail. Those words help!

    Any time Sneha!

    Shail

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