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By R. S. Illingworth

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I have no doubt at all that nearly all smacking represents nothing more than the loss of temper. Furthermore, parents have repeatedly told me how thwarted they feel when their boy, under a severe beating, refuses to admit that he has been hurt and grins at them. Some schoolboys want punishment because of the kudos which it carries with their fellows. It is well known that in schools where punishment is meted out, the same boys are punished repeatedly. It has not acted as a deterrent. A schoolmaster, E.

For instance, if two children play at the door-banging game, the wise parent stops it immediately, because sooner or later a finger will be trapped. An unwise mother does nothing about it, unless one of the children gets his finger trapped and broken, when the remaining child is given a sound thrashing. This sort of management is irrational and inconsistent, and the child cannot understand it. He regards it as unfair, and rightly so. There are many similar inconsistencies in adult life. In this country no punishment is meted out to a man who drives his car over the double white line at a corner or the brow of a hill and does not have an accident, whereas, more logically in France he is very liable to be intercepted by a gendarme and relieved of several new French francs.

Punishment is often wrong because the child did not know that his action was wrong. He gets punished for dawdling over his meal, when he is quite unable to see the reason for hurrying (and often there is no good reason). We often expect our children to show moral judgement which cannot be expected at their age. They don't know as much as we do about the consequences of their actions, or about the views which adults take of them. ' We tend to forget this. Physical punishment is usually wrong because it sets a bad example to the child.

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