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Should corporal punishment be allowed?
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Corporal punishment is a strong deterrent

We instinctively change our behaviour to avoid pain. This makes corporal punishment an effective deterrent.


Humans modify their behaviour to avoid pain. When a child touches a candle and burns its hand, it knows not to touch the candle again. Therefore, using pain as a punishment will help deter people from committing the same offence again.

The Argument

A short, sharp painful shock is the easiest way to change behaviour. An instinct of self-preservation has driven our evolution over thousands of years. This same instinct will drive us to change our behaviour when subjected to corporal punishment. In countries where corporal punishment has been banned in schools, like the UK, teachers are reporting deteriorating classroom behaviour. [1]This indicates that for all of its flaws, corporal punishments are an effective way to correct poor behaviour and get people to behave correctly. The merits of corporal punishment extend beyond the classroom. Crime has increased drastically since the end of corporal punishment in 1981. By 1997, 16 years after corporal punishment was removed from classrooms, crime had risen by 67%. [2] In Sweden, violent crime has risen since a no-spanking ban was introduced in homes. All of these global trends point to the fact that corporal punishment is an effective way to modify behaviour and induce discipline. [3]

Counter arguments

There is no evidence to suggest that corporal punishment leads to a reduction in negative behaviour. There is substantial evidence that points to the contrary. Those that are subjected to violent punishment are more likely to be violent and aggressive to others. Correlation also does not surmount to causation. Just because some teachers have anecdotally observed that classroom behaviour or crime rates are increasing does not automatically mean that an end to corporal punishment methods is to blame. No studies have effectively proven a causal link between the two phenomena. If there was a correlation between corporal punishment and reduced violent crime, then, in theory, places which retained corporal punishment would have lower murder rates. This is not the case. The southern states of the United States, including Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia have kept corporal punishment in schools but have some of the highest murder rates in the United States. [4]



[P1] Humans have evolved to avoid doing things that induce a painful response. [P2] Corporal punishment responds to negative behaviours with a painful response. [P3] Therefore, corporal punishment helps deter negative behaviour.

Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Friday, 21 Feb 2020 at 11:25 UTC

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