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ANY JUSTIFICATION FOR PUNISHING OUR CHILDREN?

Apart form biological, best interests, and social contract view, there is also the causal view of parental obligations, which includes the claim that those who bring a child into existence are thereby obligated to care for that child. What does it mean for a parent to posses rights, as a parent? Why think that such right exit? What obligations do parents have to their children? What is the role of the state, if any, concerning the parent-child relationship? These questions are central for our understanding on the moral, social, personal, and political dimensions of the parent-child relationship.

The existence and extent of parental rights, the rights of children, and the relevant interests of the state all come together when one considers issues in practices of parenting. The conception of rights one holds as wells as one’s view of the comparative strength of those rights will often inform what one takes to be the personal, social, and public policy implications with respect to the issue of disciplining/punishing children.

The problem with punishment is that since it involves infliction of some kind of harm, or deprivation of some kind of good, it transgresses normal ethical boundaries, and therefore requires specific ethical justification. The major elements in such a justification have been felt to be retribution, reparation, reformation, deterrence, and presentation. There are a variety of ways in which parents punish their children. These include corporal forms of punishment, and other forms such a timeouts, loss of privileges, fines, and verbal corrections. Of these, corporal forms of punishment are the most controversial.

The use of violence and aggression is taken by many to be wrong in the context of the parent-child relationship, which they believe should be characterized by intimacy and love with no place for the infliction of physical pain. When punishment is harsh or frequent, it is argued that this amount to child abuse. However, when corporal punishment is understood as the infliction of physical pain without injury, then it may be permissible. The abusive use of corporal punishment is wrong, but this does not mean that corporal punishment degrades children, where is the proof that it actually lower their self-regards, or at least that it does so in an unacceptable manner.

The justification of punishment in this way of thinking has to do with children failing to live up to the trust placed in them by their parents. As such, proper forms of punishment both reflect and reinforce that trust. If children destroy or damage property, fining them for doing so can restore trust, and then re-establish that trust which is conducive to their continued development and the quality of the parent-child relationship. A form of punishment that fails to foster trust, or that foster fear, would be morally problematic

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