Is Corporal Punishment Harmful?

Reaction Paper: ‘’Is Corporal Punishment Harmful?’’

Parenting and parent-child relationships have great influence on future behavioral development of children. This implies that the mode of punishment would determine the behavior of an individual. This reaction paper will focus on determining whether corporal punishment will lead to children’s behavioral issues or problems. This will be done through the evaluation and understanding of parenting theories with regards to Baumrind and Gershoff’s perspectives.

Parent-child relationships are among the various close relationships, which can be experienced by an individual in life. This is because of the fact that such relationships are critical in the lives of children as well as their parents (Allan et al, p.205). Besides, such relationships provide ideal environments for facilitating the growth and development of children as active members of the society. There is a clear difference between parenting and parent-child relationships. Parenting focuses on issues like parenting practice and styles in the form of authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive attributes. These styles of parenting determine the relationship between parents and their children.

For example, authoritarian parenting style involves demand and control of the behavior of the child by parent. In a situation like this one, the child has the opportunity of responding through compliance or resistance to the demands. This would determine the relationship between the child and the parents like conflicts or peaceful interaction. To make sure that children comply with the demands of the parents, different modes of punishment can be used. One of the common ones is the corporal punishment. This is related to the use of physical punishment aimed at transforming the child’s behavior. This is a show of authoritative model of parenting styles and practices (Allan et al, p. 2008). It remains a matter of debate on whether corporal punishment might have positive or negative impacts on the behavior of the child in the process of development of individual culture.

Baumrind argues that authoritative model of parenting developed as a viable option to the liberal (permissive) and authoritarian (conservative) parenting styles. Baumring points out that in the context of a responsive and supporting parent-child relationship, prudent administration of punishment is a critical tool for disciplinary interactions and encounters. According to her, the focus of authoritative parenting style should be on the way in which it is administered and the cultural context of the model instead of the particular disciplinary action (Baumrind, p. 407). This is because the analysis of the administration and cultural context of the model and practice of parenting would be important in determining the long-term impacts and efficacy of the approach.

She asserts that behavioral compliance and psychological autonomy does not undergo exclusive mutual analysis, but independent objectives. This is by encouraging children to respond habitually with regards to pro-social ways and reason appropriately on moral matters while showing respect to the adults. She also notes that authoritative model is highly demanding and responsive unlike the authoritarian parenting styles. Baumrind makes the conclusion that the short term and long term impacts of any disciplinary practice in relation to the child results from the influence of cultural and child rearing contexts (Baumrind, p. 414).

Gershoff on the other hand, focused on examining how corporal punishment affects the behavior of children in the short and long term contexts. In her analysis, she noted lack of comprehensive research on the influences of authoritative model on the behavior of individuals, hence, the need to con duct an extensive meta-analysis on the matter (Gershoff, p. 540). She says that corporal punishment or authoritative style of parenting has diverse impacts of behavior of a child in the short and long term contexts. This is related to the impact of authoritative model or corporal punishment in the development of child constructs aggression, higher levels of immediate compliance, and lower levels of moral internalization and mental well being. Gershoff argues that there is need to differentiate between corporal punishment or authoritative style and physical abuse. She defines corporal punishment as ‘’the application of physical force with the aim of causing a child to experience pain but not injury for the purpose of correction or control of the behavior of the child.’’

Based on this analysis, I do not agree with Baumrind’s argument on the concept of authoritative model and behavior of the child in the development of an individual as a member of the society. This is because her assertion on the role of culture on the behavior of the child instead of corporal punishment. Besides, she does not give an illustration on the influence of corporal punishment in the development of aggressive behavior and other adverse behavioral patterns of the child in the short and long term context with regards to the display of the corporal behavior.

On the other hand, I agree with Gershoff’s argument on the diverse impacts of corporal punishment or authoritative model of parenting on the children sin the process of development as individuals or members of the society. This is related to her findings on the relationship between corporal punishment and eleven child behaviors and experiences. It should be noted that corporal punishment influences child constructs, lower levels of mental health and moral internalization, aggression, and advanced levels of immediate compliance among minors.

Work Cited

Baumrind Diana. “The Discipline Controversy Revisited”, Family Relations, v. 45-n4 p. 405-        414 Oct 1996.

Gershoff E. Thompson. “Corporal Punishment by Parents and Associated Child Behaviors           and Experiences: A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review”. Psychological Bulletin, 2002, Vol. 128, No. 4, 539-579.

Baumrind D., Robert E, & Philip A. Cowan. “Ordinary Physical Punishment: Is It Harmful?         Comment on Gershoff (2002), Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 128, No. 4, 580-589.

Allan R., Jacqueline M, & Kerry B. “Chapter 11: Parent-Child Relationships”, In Blackwell          Handbook of Childhood Social Development, 2004, pp 205-222.