Corporal Punishment - Myths and Realities
The National PTA, Copyright 1991

Myth: Corporal punishment is used only as the last resort
Reality: Corporal punishment is often the first response even for minor infractions. Teachers and parents need training in nonviolent ways to handle behavior problems

Myth: Teachers need the right to use corporal punishment to protect themselves.
Reality: Using physical force for self-protection is not considered corporal punishment. School employees have the right to use force to protect themselves or other people from bodily harm, to gain control of a dangerous weapon or to protect property from damage.

Myth: If corporal punishment is banned, the school will be in chaos.
Reality: Again and again, experience has shown that this does not happen. At worst, behavior remains about the same after corporal punishment is abolished. When alternative discipline codes are put in place, disruption is usually significantly reduce.

Myth: The kid must have deserved it.
Reality: Children are paddled for such minor infractions as whispering, giggling or not finishing their milk.

Myth: Corporal punishment is used only on the worst kids.
Reality: The most likely victims of corporal punishment are the most vulnerable, for example, minorities, the smallest boys, children with disabilities.

Myth: A little swat is good for some kids.
Reality: Corporal punishment hurts all kids, victims and witnesses alike. It increases learning problems and decreases student's ability to concentrate and remember. In severe cases, students subjected to corporal punishment exhibit symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, similar to the syndrome experienced by Vietnam veterans.

Myth: Corporal punishment prevents unruliness.
Reality: The higher the incidence of corporal punishment in a school, the higher the level of vandalism and delinquency.

Myth: It's okay to use corporal punishment if parents give permission.
Reality: A spanking at school is very destructive to a child's sense of self-worth. It hurts other children too by frightening them or sending them the message that violence is a solution to problems. Also, paddling at school sends the message it's okay to hit kids at home, too.

Myth: Using corporal punishment lets kids know who's in charge.
Reality: The best way to teach self-control is by example. When teachers use corporal punishment, they teach that being "in charge" means physically forcing others into submission.

Myth: I was paddled and it didn't hurt me.
Reality: We all learn by example. Adults most likely to physically punish children are those who were corporally punished as children themselves. Using corporal punishment today continues the cycle into the next generation.

Myth: Corporal punishment is the only way to teach some kids.
Reality: The most difficult children are often the most helpless. They cannot protect themselves. They need help, not hitting.

What do we want to teach?

Positive discipline teaches: Right from wrong

Corporal punishment teaches: Might makes right

Positive discipline teaches: Self-control

Corporal punishment teaches: It's okay to strike out in anger

Positive discipline teaches: Cooperation in resolving conflicts

Corporal punishment teaches: We control others by force

Positive discipline teaches: How to assert oneself by stating needs in words

Corporal punishment teaches: The way to let out dissatisfaction is by physically abusing others

Positive discipline teaches: Self-esteem, a feeling that "I am part of the solution"

Corporal punishment teaches: Low self-esteem , a feeling that "It's okay for others to hit me"

Positive discipline teaches: Clear expectations and fair consequences

Corporal punishment teaches: Hurt and humiliation that is often out of proportion to the misbehavior

Positive discipline teaches: Respect for those in authority and other people

Corporal punishment teaches: Fear and resentment of authority

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