Decline of Discipline This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 4, 2009
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When I was younger, my brother and I were at each other’s throats constantly. My brother is two years older than I, and I did everything he did, the good and the bad. David and I were partners in crime. We were always doing things we shouldn’t have been and were always provoking each other as we did them. So, it was no surprise that my parents had specific ways of punishing us. I recall back to a time when I said “damn” to my mother. After a lot of yelling from her and crying on my part, she handed me a mug with a mixture of soap and water. I can still remember the taste of the dish soap.
My brother and I were often victim to spankings. This was my father’s most frequently used form of punishment because it was quick and could be done anywhere. Whenever I did anything out of line, my dad would lay me over his knee and give me a few sharp blows. He even had a paddle that he threatened us with but never actually used.

Now that I am older, I see the way that my parents punish my sisters who are seven and nine years younger than me. The punishments they receive are nowhere near as harsh as those that I had as a child. I have never seen my parents handle my sisters the way that they did to me. They have never been punished with anything more than a “time out.” When I question my parents about this, my mom simply says, “You guys have always been punished equally.” I know this is not true, though, because I have witnessed the way my parents have disciplined them firsthand. My parents could be just getting older and more “soft” or too tired to discipline my sisters the way that I was. Or perhaps there is a deeper reason, a question of morality.

The media these days is flooded with stories of child abuse. Everyone has been forced to change their ways and conform to new standards for discipline. My aunt told me stories of how when she was in Catholic school as a child, the nuns used to hit the students with rulers and pull their ears as punishment. To her this did not seem out of the norm or cruel; it was just the way she was always disciplined. If any teacher were to act in these ways towards a student these days, they would certainly be fired as well as receive further consequences from the law. With all of this controversy, where is the line drawn between effective punishment and child abuse?

At what point did discipline become a question of morality? What has caused society to fall away from traditional methods that have been followed for decades? In a New York Times article, a specialist speaks to an all-American soccer mom. “As parents understand that it’s not socially acceptable to spank children, they are at a loss for what they can do. They resort to reminding, nagging, timeout, counting 1-2-3 and quickly realize that those strategies don’t work to change behavior. In the absence of tools that really work, they feel frustrated and angry and raise their voice.” Now that physical punishment is condemned from the minds of parents, they are beginning to resort to yelling at their children. Another mother in this article says, “Admitting I’m a mom that screams, shouts and loses it in front her kids feels like I’m revealing a dark family secret.” Although yelling is always somewhat frowned upon, it is insane to me that people are now trying to make this form of punishment obsolete as well. It is as though our society is always trying to find something new to scrutinize people for. First physical punishment, then yelling, what will be next? Before you know it, there will be no form of discipline that is effective and respected by our society, and when that happens, what will happen to our children?
The world around us is advancing in so many ways. In a world where children are surrounded by sex and drugs and violence, we find ourselves refraining more and more from physical punishment because people feel it may scar their fragile development. By surrounding our children with such an environment, you would think that physical punishments wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary to today’s children. But since the media embellishes and elaborates so many cases of this nature, parents have fallen away from these methods, because they do not want to be another one of these cases on the news. It is hypocritical to remove such punishments, but not make efforts to remove the things they see around them on television and in the media that are harming them even more.

I have grown up in a loving house. I also received what would be considered strict discipline. Although as a child I hated my parents for this, I think in the long run, it made me a more disciplined and structured person. I see my sister without the same methods of discipline and she visibly does not respect my parents’ authority the way that I was raised to. Now that people are scared to discipline their children because of the stereotypes that have arisen from it, you can see this lack of respect throughout younger generations. A balance needs to be found between these two extremes before it is too late to turn back.

Works Cited
Stout, Hilary. “How Should Parents Discipline Their Kids?”

The New York Times. 23 October 2009.

28 Oct. 2009. Web.

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SparaxisThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 29 at 5:50 pm
There's plenty of people I know who BADLY need discipline. Kids can't learn without being punished, especially in this disgusting age.
Ellie_Michelle said...
Dec. 26, 2009 at 9:44 pm
I agree but think that it's okay for parents to spank their kids as long as they don't use like a "weapon" (as I call it) like they just use their hand. Otherwise it can be emotionally scarring, in my opinion.
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