Effectiveness of Corporal Punishment and Learning Theory Alternatives

1147 Words5 Pages
Corporal punishment is effective in the short-term, but other alternatives, based more on learning theory, are more effective in long-term behavioural modification. The media, such as Time magazine, discusses the issue of corporal punishment using emotive language and vague claims, as opposed to empirical evidence and references to surveys. Therefore, this essay seeks to discuss the effectiveness of corporal punishment, and learning theory alternatives, through analysing research studies and credited analyses. Corporal punishment can be defined as administering mild to moderate physical punishment, which causes mild pain or discomfort, in order to modify an undesirable behaviour (Straus, 1994). Corporal punishment encourages passive learning of desired behaviours, and may therefore be considered, in part, classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is part of the behavioural theory, and it involves learning a new behaviour, through association. Stimuli are displayed together, in order to create a new, learned response. Operant conditioning changes behaviour by using reinforcement and punishment, in order to encourage, or discourage, certain behaviours (Lilienfeld et. al., 2012). While punishment, reinforcement and corporal punishment all seek to modify behaviour, corporal punishment differs from reinforcement. Positive reinforcement refers to adding something pleasant to the child’s environment in order to encourage a behaviour, while negative reinforcement refers to removing an unpleasant stimulus in order to discourage a behaviour. Negative punishment differs in that it refers to the removal of a positive stimulus. Corporal punishment is a type of positive punishment, which refers to adding an unpleasant stimulus to the chil... ... middle of paper ... ...from their children. This shows that parenting without corporal punishment has the potential to promote mental health. However, contamination of control groups, lack of direct cause and effect (unaware of other factors) and other factors make certain aspects of this study questionable, but it is still soundly conducted and its results are valid (Stewart-Brown et. al, 2004). From this, it can be concluded that learning theory based alternatives, such as rewarding desirable behaviour, removal of privileges and verbal reprimands, are effective in modifying children’s behaviour. Corporal punishment, while effective in the short-term, is not an effective long-term method, and can have negative effects on the future discipline of children. Therefore, parents should embrace the alternative methods of discipline, in order to raise healthy, well-adjusted members of society.
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