Corporal Punishment in American Education: Readings in History, Practice, and Alternatives

By Irwin A. Hyman; James H. Wise | Go to book overview

PART III

CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES

The preceding section of this book presented historical information regarding the practice of corporal punishment in schools within the larger context of cultural and societal attitudes regarding discipline and children. While the writers in that section emphasized historical information and speculated about causal factors, the writers in this section deal with various theories to explain the continued use of the practice. Overlap between the sections is inevitable.

The first essay by Philip Piele is an edited version of a longer article which considers the Supreme Court decision discussed more thoroughly in Part IV. Piele analyzes the Supreme Court's dependence on historic precedents as a major rationale in their decision in Ingraham v. Wright. Historic precedent, based more in tradition and social practice than actual law, reflects the Supreme Court's belief in traditional conservative values. Piele then presents a wide-ranging anthropological, socio-biological, and ethological discussion of the roots of our adherence to the practice of hitting children. Piele's excellent theoretical essay is complemented by the different approach of the next one by Owens and Straus, "The Social Structure of Violence in Childhood and Approval of Violence as an Adult." The latter attempts to utilize data collected in a national survey by the Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. The survey suggests that those who experience violence as children tend to favor the use of violence to achieve both a political and a personal end when they are adults. The authors conclude that there seems to be a relationship between the use of violence in childhood and the maintenance of violence as a method for solving problems in adulthood. This essay points out the necessity of an educational system which not only does not support the use of violence for solving problems but educates children to the rational use of other methods for changing behavior.

In the following essay, Welsh presents a more dramatic case for the theory of "modeling" which is supported in the sociological studies of

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