Using physical force as a means of punishment is also known as corporal punishment. This is causing intentional physical pain and discomfort to a person with an aim of making the person amend his behavioral ways.
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This method of physical correction has for a long time been used as a disciplinary method in schools and also homes by parents although most countries are slowly doing away with it. Sweden was the first country to outlaw corporal punishment by passing a law against it. However, in some countries it still remains legal and is still being used. In such countries the justification is that children who persistently misbehave must be disciplined. Parents also use this method to discipline their children. This method of punishment is not justifiable as it has various setbacks. Research reveals that this method leads to short-term compliance of commands, as the child will only obey to prevent the parent from beating him/her but is soon after likely to repeat the wrong. There is also a connection between the use of physical force and marital conflicts in that a person who was discipline using physical force in his/her childhood is likely to approve the beating of a spouse on becoming an adult.
There is also the possibility of instilling hostility while the undesired behavior still remains. Physical force is regarded as violent and that the result is a poor and negative child outcome as the child becomes defiant instead of reforming. This method is also considered as a violation of natural human rights. Research also indicates that the use of physical force has psychological effects on a child so that a child who is a victim of physical violence is likely to be resentful, violent and often shy. The close contact between a parent and a child is also lost as the child is always anxious and there exists tension between the parent and the child. Use of physical force and always lowers a child’s self-esteem and her/his self-worth is diminished.
(Marthur 91) Corporal punishment can therefore be said to be an outdated and barbaric method of disciplining children as it affects their development so that such children normally will have poor development and therefore poor performance results. Therefore instead of using physical force to discipline children, other effective means of disciplining should be used. For instance, children should be taught amicable ways of resolving conflicts. They should be encouraged to speak out and more importantly cultivate virtues like patience, cooperation and most importantly politeness to be able to cope with other people in the society. Thereby correcting them without assaulting them. Research clearly indicates that though it is the aim of every parent while punishing their children that they may change their wayward behavior statistics indicate more often than not it is the opposite of expectations that happen so that a child becomes more hostile and this could lead to greater problems in future like depression. Corporal punishment can therefore be said outrightly to be physical abuse.
However there is a slight difference between corporal punishment. If corporal punishment affects a child psychologically then it automatically changes and becomes physical which is illegal. This kind of discipline could be quite traumatic on young children when overdone.
Fontes Lisa A. Child Abuse and Culture. Guilford Press, 2005.
Knudsen Dean D. Child Maltreatment: Emerging Perspectives. Rowman Altamira, 1992.
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Myers John E. B. Legal Issues in Child Abuse and Neglect Practice. SAGE, 1998.