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Corporal Punishment: The Solution To Violence In South African Schools

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Violence in schools whether towards educators or students is an ever-growing problem present in the country and ineffective disciplinary measures are to blame. When the consequence does not weigh up to the severity of the action, the student will not see the reality of said action and will be at risk of committing the same deviant behaviour in the near future as no lesson was learnt. The notion that violence is associated with corporal punishment is looking past the fact that its main goal is to instil discipline within pupils through a direct form of punishment that is almost impossible to misinterpret. In this essay three main ideas will be discussed. The first main idea is how pain is associated with bad behaviour, the second main idea is about respect for teachers being strengthened through corporal punishment and lastly, how peer to peer violence will be reduced through the reimplementation of corporal punishment.

Pain is associated with bad behaviour

Pain is associated with bad behaviour. The association of pain towards bad behaviour will result in the transgressor becoming aware that the identified behaviour should be avoided in order to avoid the repercussion thereof; this will thus inhibit the reoccurrence of said action in future. Pain instils fear and fear acts as a powerful motivator, which brings about a sense of respect towards the authoritarian dealing out the punishment. The reason why students act out in violent or disrespectful manners is due to the fact that they are not fearful of the consequences of their actions, as in today’s world the worst that could happen to a student is three hours spent in silence with an educator. This form of punishment does not address the problem directly or effectively at all, as all that is taken from the child is time which at that age does not mean much at all, no fear is instilled and the risk of the action being repeated is high. It is human nature to stray away from actions that lead to pain an example of this is pulling your hand away from a hot surface, thus it can be said that people in general respond and learn quicker to a pain stimulus. The pain associated with the action will in the broader scheme of things result in children being able to easily identify boundaries that should not be crossed and enable them to make better decisions in life. Once a child has received corporal punishment for violent actions, they will then associate that action with pain and will result in them not committing said violent acts again. In an article on social issues, Paul Goodman states: 'That is why it has featured as a traditional tool of teachers for so long. There is no other equivalent that acts as both a punishment and deterrent in the same way. The psychological and physical immediacy of a short sharp shock is simply the most effective way to affect behaviour in some circumstances.”(Goodman, 2019) Goodman expresses his opinion on corporal punishment in the article by explaining that there is no alternative manner in which to punish a child than that of corporal punishment. The author agrees that the association of pain towards bad behaviour is the most effective form of discipline as it acts as it not only affects a student physically but mentally as well and by doing so the learner will immediately be able to associated the action that required the punishment as being wrong and will result in said learner deterring from committing the same wrong deed. Therefore, it can be said that pain is associated with bad behaviour. Through the implementation of physical punishments fairness in a sense that only severe actions will require such harsh repercussions. Patrick Lenta (2017) expresses that the severity of a punishment should be a reflection of the seriousness of the offence. The author thus agrees with the fact that corporal punishment is a necessary reinforcement of good behaviour as it brings about harsh punishments for bad behaviour.

Corporal punishment will strengthen respect towards teachers

Respect towards teachers will be strengthened through corporal punishment. Teachers have been battling to enforce their position of authority effectively as the methods they are expected to use are not effective and do not demand the necessary respect from students. The implementation of corporal punishment will result in students identifying educators as an authoritarian figure that enforces a strict form of discipline which will result in students having a newfound respect for the educator. Referring to the previous main idea, identifying fear a strong motivator, in this context fear of the educator’s ability to discipline in a physical manner will enable the educator to set strict boundaries that no one would dare to cross which would create a discipline learning environment. When a schoolteacher enforces the punishment on a student that has behaved badly the lesson will not just be learnt by one student but by all that sees it, this will result in the need for the punishment to enforce discipline becoming less as all the students will be weary to step out of line. The physical pain that corporal punishment brings about, instils a far greater lesson than any form of punishments that has been used by educators in recent times such as detention, writing out and demerit points which has no effect on the overall behaviour of a child.

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U.K. Frankie states: “It makes very recalcitrant and stubborn children submit to authority because they fear that if they don’t do the right thing they just might be whipped.”(Frankie, 2018) the author thus acknowledges that through fear a new found respect is developed towards the educator. Once students start to acknowledge an educator as being a figure of authority in the classroom behaviour within will improve and violence outside the classroom will be reduced drastically, as the lessons they have learnt will linger in their minds resulting in them behaving appropriately at all times

Peer to peer violence will be reduced

Bullying comes in many forms, such as, cyber bullying, verbal abuse, intimidation and physical bullying; this is the cause of depression and anxiety amongst many of those that have been affected by one or multiple forms of bullying. This problem has not been dealt with effectively and is still evident within many schools in South Africa. This is due to the presence of minimal disciplinary actions available for educators to use. Students affected by bullying are afraid to speak out as they know the consequences that the bully will face will not measure up to the physical or emotional pain they have experienced or will experience after complaining about the problem to an educator. Until violence against peers is dealt with effectively it will be an ever-increasing problem within our schools as well as the society as a whole. Corporal punishment will tackle the problem head on by administering a punishment that will make the transgressor become aware of the severity of his/her action and will give those affected by violence the courage to speak out as justice will be served. Once there is an environment where the problem is dealt with effectively and where children are not fearful to speak out, violence amongst peers will be reduced drastically and those that still transgress will have to be dealt with through the eyes of the law. Students will be able to identify violent actions as being a severe act, once it is dealt with through corporal punishment and this will not just prevent them from behaving badly at school but also prevent them from being a violent person within the society, they live in. It has been reported that in 2018 there was at least, 25 incidents of reported violence within schools (Daily Maverick, 2018). The statistics shows that the violence that is evident in South Africa’s schools does not just affect the learners but has also affected the lives of those that are trying to stop it - the educators. It is clear that current punishment methods are not instilling the necessary morals within learners and even through the loss of lives there is still no evidence of change to prevent the reoccurrence of such tragic events. Without pressure from government to change disciplinary methods within the education system, this problem will remain, and many more people will be affected.

Ben Brown (2008) emphasizes that due to the hyperactive nature of children, as well as their limited attention, they tend to behave unruly. The author also states that amongst adolescence and young adults is a high percentage of criminal activity and that, that is the reason why corporal punishment is still a preferred form of punishment for parents as well as some teachers. In saying this the author reiterates the importance of curbing bad behaviour at a young age through effective disciplinary methods in order to avoid the reoccurrence of it in the future.


In conclusion, it is evident that educators are faced with a generation of troublesome youth that lack discipline and it is clear that the methods of discipline they are using are not improving the situation at all. I believe that only through the reimplementation of corporal punishment will they be able to take away the sense of entitlement today’s youth has and implement discipline and integrity within their lives.

Reference list

  1. Brown, B. (2008) Perceptions of student misconduct, perceived respect for teachers, and support for corporal punishment among school teachers in South Korea: an exploratory case study Retrieved from
  2. Frankie, U. (2018). Advantages and disadvantages of corporal punishment. Retrieved from
  3. Goodman, P. (2019) Argumenta for and Against the Use of Corporal Punishment in Schools. Retrieved from
  4. Lenta, P. (2018). Corporal Punishment: A Philosophical Assessment. New York, New York; Routledge.
  5. Simelane, B. (2019). Violence at school: ‘Lack of political will’ blamed, among other factors. Retrieved from
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Corporal Punishment: The Solution To Violence In South African Schools. (2021, September 10). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 3, 2023, from
“Corporal Punishment: The Solution To Violence In South African Schools.” Edubirdie, 10 Sept. 2021,
Corporal Punishment: The Solution To Violence In South African Schools. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 3 Dec. 2023].
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