See this item in the news. (links will open in new window)
We want to use philosophy to solve this problem.
A survey found that a fifth of teachers in the United Kingdom thought that the use of the cane as a punishment should be brought back into schools in Britain. Before looking at the pros and cons of this issue, we must look at a comment by the writer Sarah Ebner. She seems to think that the survey shows that teachers have lost the plot, and they are all wanting to go around with a big stick, whacking all the kids left right and centre. But the survey does not show anything of the kind. You have to remember that four fifths of the teachers surveyed, that's 80%, must have been against corporal punishment.
Another silly idea is that of the person who commented on the original item, when he thought a child would get caned in front of the whole class, and that would bring down their pride. But the reality is that, even if caning was brought back, it would only be served out by the head teacher or a deputy, and well out of sight of other children.
The two points made above are merely to put the discussion into some perspective, so it can be talked about logically, and free from crazy notions.
Those in favour say that discipline in English schools has become so bad, and the sanctions are so ineffective, that a return to caning as a kind of ultimate sanction is needed. They point out that in the "old days" when there was caning, there were far fewer problems. They think that there are some students who laugh at the discipline system in school, and laugh at the psychologists and "anger-management" specialists, and just play the system. The proponents of a return to caning also point out that many students are heartily sick of the disruptive elements in their class who are spoiling their learning opportunities, and that those students would also be in favour of it. Those in favour also argue that the alternative sanction - exclusion from school for a number of days - only makes it seem as though the wrong doer is getting an extra free vacation while the other children have to carry on working.
Those against caning say that in former days, people were more concerned to conform with rules and regulations, and that was why discipline was generally better, not because of the cane. They point out that society is different nowadays, and that there are also a lot more stresses on young people than there were in their grandparents time. These stresses, they say, make it more difficult for children to control their behaviour. There are many more learning disabilities now that were simply not acknowledged in those days. They also argue that many of the people who want to bring back corporal punishment have never themselves experienced the misery and shame felt by a child who is being beaten by adults, especially if it is an unjust punishment, as would sometimes happen. Furthermore, they say, the child may well become more defiant as a result of being punished in this way. They say that such a regime would give an unspoken lesson to young people that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems.
(One thing that should be remembered: physical violence of any kind inflicted on a child for any reason whatever, by an adult who is not their parent, is currently illegal under United Kingdom law.)
If you are a student, what do you think of the idea of bringing back corporal punishment in schools?
If you are a parent, would you be willing to allow your own child to be punished in this way?
If you are a teacher, do you think that caning would be an acceptable way of solving the problem of discipline in the classroom?
If you are none of the above, do you think that corporal punishment in school would solve some of our social problems?