On Behaviors and Corporal Punishments

by Guillermo Bautista Jr.

Most of my life, I was the only child in the family, so as you can imagine, I would receive mostly reinforcements and very few punishments. One of the reinforcements I remember was that my mother would buy me some clothes or ice cream when I got high grades or when I won in singing contests. As far as punishment is concerned, I cannot remember a major one.

I had my first taste of corporal punishment when we lived with my uncle and his family for almost a year. His wife was a disciplinarian and there were numerous times where she hit her children using sticks, brooms, or twigs for the simplest of mistakes. The strikes were intended to hurt because you could hear the sound and you could see the children panicking and trying to hide in every corner possible. Minutes after such events I could hear the sobs of my cousins in their sleep. Even though I was five years old at that time, I could still remember how sorry I was for them.

I got my share of corporal punishment when I was told to buy sardines for breakfast around 8 am and I was not able to come back until 11 am. I was invited by my playmates to look for spiders since fighting spiders was very popular among kids in our place. My aunt went to fetch me with kakawate twigs and she continually hit me on our way home. The back of my legs was swollen and according to my mother, I also sobbed at my sleep. She cried too.

I think my aunt failed to understand that when you are 5 years old, you do not have a clear concept of time. For me, I was just looking for spiders for a while. Of course, she also failed to understand that she is not supposed to hit somebody’s child.

After that incident, we decided to leave my uncle’s house. The discipline continued among my cousins and my mother was criticized for being too lenient with me. Many years later, all the four disciplined children became rebellious and got married without finishing their studies. The result is consistent with the findings that striking children to improve their behavior may actually do the opposite (Lee, 2016).

All my life, my mother’s form of punishment was through heart-to-heart talks explaining my mistakes and their consequences. Through these talks, I became conscious and eventually became careful of my actions. I think this should also be done in homes and schools. Children need to understand why they are being punished (if needed be), they must understand the consequence of their actions, and the punishment should not intend to literally hurt them.

In schools, one form of punishment could be a deduction of scores. For example, the scores of students who submitted their homework late should be deducted. The teacher should explain that it would be unfair for those who submitted their homework on time if the scores given will be the same.

Reference

Lee, K. (2016, July 13). The Risks of Spanking Children – How Corporal Punishment May Harm Kids. Retrieved May 21, 2017, from https://www.verywell.com/risks-of-spanking-children-may-harm-kids-620127

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