Researchers have regularly faced with the fact that corporal punishment was ineffective in the long run as the input for the elimination of undesirable behavior, for which it was intended. More recent and more accurate research only confirmed and strengthened this conclusion, finding, for example, that children whose parents punish them for their failure to comply with the rules of the house, often showed more violations of the rules when being out of the house.
Today, an impressive collection of experiments have been accumulated demonstrating a devastating effect of corporal punishment – i.e., spanking, whipping, blows or other means of causing physical pain – as a disciplinary measure. There is undoubted evidence that corporal punishment leads to higher levels of aggression and a number of other harmful effects. Beating children means teaching them a clear lesson – a lesson that one can make the weaker to act as they wish, causing them pain.
However, control problems are not limited to punishment and problems with punishment are not limited to corporal punishment. Sociologist Joan McCord noted that if parents and teachers would replace physical punishment with the non-physical, they probably would not teach children how to beat, kick, and give cuffs, but they would still convince them that causing pain is the natural way of using power. The consequences of the punishment are the development of the lack of empathy and understanding of others. The problem, in other words, lies in the exposure of children to something unpleasant. It may be unpleasant physical pain, deprivation of attention and love, humiliation, isolation, or something else.
Most consultants on education of children found an answer to the natural reluctance of some parents to use the tactics of punishment, consequences. In announcing how we plan to punish the child, we may cleanse our conscience, because we seem to have warned the child, but in fact all that we do is threaten the kid. We tell a child in advance how we’re going to make him or her suffer if they do not obey. It brings distrust, making children believe that they are subject due to external causes, and underlines their impotence. And all the devastating consequences of such an attitude to the child will likely to follow in spite of the fact that we have made a small change.
Sometimes parents are advised to send the child to the room, instead of spanking – as if it were the only choice. The truth is, as we have seen that both methods are punishment. They differ in whether a child will suffer physically or emotionally.
Researchers have regularly faced with the fact that corporal punishment was ineffective in the long run as the input for the elimination of undesirable behavior, for which it was intended.