It is not propaganda that corporal punishment is bad

Dear Editor,

I refer to Mr Malcolm Alves’s letter, ‘There should be a viable alternative before corporal punishment is abandoned’ (SN, December 7) in which he defends its use. I fully support a ban and respectfully disagree with Mr Alves.

Firstly, Mr Alves pointed out that 19 states in the USA are currently using corporal punishment and these include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.

However, these are mostly poor states which lag behind. It is to be remembered that 31 states, mostly affluent ones with disproportionately high levels of college graduates have banned it.

Secondly, the odds are that the remaining 19 states will soon follow. Why cite such an example to stall a ban that will do a world of good?

Thirdly, college graduates are also likely to be of a higher socio-economic bracket; as such they understand the injurious consequences of corporal punishment (both mental and physical) and are more likely to axe it.   It is no wonder 31 states have banned it.

Fourthly, it is erroneous to assume that all kids in New York City are wild. Parents from higher socio-economic brackets in New York or elsewhere are less likely to beat their kids, yet they are not wild.

The fact remains that New York City and the USA at large have produced most of the leading academics in the world which includes – Nobel Laureates in science, technology, and finance.   Wild kids do not become leading academics, but highly disciplined ones do. Unfortunately, mostly folks belonging to a lower socio-economic background beat their kids, not realizing its negative consequences. They destroy children’s lives.

Fifthly, this country has had five decades of failure and change is needed. Why stifle change? It is something we voted for.

Sixthly, piles of scientific evidence point to the fact that corporal punishment is indeed bad and this is not propaganda. Our kids are hurting. We need to move forward with a ban.

Finally, corporal punishment (a form of operant conditioning) has been traditionally used but science has taught us that this is bad. Why continue to use it? It just does not make any sense. There are safe, effective, cheap and highly feasible alternatives available including other types of operant conditioning with a focus on reward/reinforcement schemes rather than whacking.

Reward/reinforcement schemes have broad appeal and are particularly suitable for a country like ours where poverty soars.

Yours faithfully,

Cecil Dilip Kumar

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