Is Hurting Helpful?

In Book I of Emile, Rousseau mentions early childhood and what a baby’s crying can signify. He then goes on about how sometimes a baby’s crying can get too raucous which results in him being spanked by a nurse.  The instant look on the infants face is one of anger in his crying tones and facial expressions.  Rousseau later goes on to compare more destitute children who did not receive physical punishment to the children of higher social classes who did and how the former seemed to be “generally less frail and weakly, [and] more vigorous.” (56)

This section from the reading made me think of the ongoing debate concerning the justification of corporal punishment, or spanking of children.  I found an article that shows how divided the nation is in terms of who still sees it as a meaningful form of punishment versus who doesn’t and also the divide between people who personally experienced it and either “appreciated” it or resented their parents for it.  The article also made a good point of explaining that part of the divide either for or against corporal punishment deals with personal views as to how far is too far and where exactly corporal punishment ends and child abuse begins.

Speaking from personal experience, I would say that receiving spankings as a young child made me upset at the time, but did not carry over into anger towards my parents for punishing me.  I think now it’s a little easier to understand why I received the punishments I did just because I’m more aware of all of the stupid things I did as a little kid.  Do I believe that I deserved every spanking I received? No.  Am I glad that I got as many spankings as I did because it made me more behaved over time? Not necessarily.  However, I do realize that beyond the punishment, my parents were indeed coming from a place of love.  They have never come close to abusing me, as I have never had welts on my body as a result of a spanking(as mentioned early on in the article).

With this being said, I’m not sure if I will result to using any form of corporal punishment for my potential children.  I personally feel more opposed to using but I also see it as a type of structure that can yield results in well behaved children if not abused or taken out of control.  I think it’s also a matter of handling a child based on what you personally go through as one.  For example, many abusers act in such a way because they themselves were abused and see it as the only way to discipline their children.  They’re surely in the wrong for abusing their children but is it less unjustified if it’s all they know? What do you guys think?

Link to article-


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