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Discipline and Corporal Punishment: Is it Necessary?

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My friend Tom, clutching the giant red lump on his left earlobe, was screaming in utter agony and was suffering from an overly harsh punishment which he didn’t deserve in the first place.

In Korean elementary schools, this is a common sight.

It all started from a misunderstanding. It was 2 pm and like any other school day, some of my fifth-grade friends were playing around in their music room, which was full of instruments and a giant black piano. But just at the wrong moment, where someone could mistake them for actually being too rough with each other, our teacher Mr. Lee comes in and interrupts them.

It took only 30 seconds for Mr. Lee to grab Tom by the ear and use the black piano cover to smash it.

Was this the right thing to do? Well, maybe - but compared to the trouble the consequence Tom had to suffer was extreme. Was this punishment worth it? Mr. Lee could have been short tempered or in a bad mood, but corporal punishment at school is certainly illegal.

Ever since the blanket ban on corporal punishment in late August 2010 by Seoul’s Education Superintendent No-Hyun Kwak, it has been technically illegal for any teacher to do anything like what Mr. Lee did. But, corporal punishment is still common in Korea even after the law. According to a Korea Institute Criminology study published in 2011, it was found that 94.6% of interviewed high school students still received corporal punishment.

This result is shockingly outrageous. Although the blanket ban law was made, nothing has changed at all. This ban, or law, has had no power amongst harsh Korean teachers. As a result, the law ended up being totally meaningless and ineffective.

The government should make up a more powerful law that will stop the teachers immediately. Additionally, the government should make some kind of punishment for the teachers. While the rate of corporal punishment for high schoolers was 94.6%, the government has done nothing. If the teachers faced a consequence, they would most likely stop using corporal punishment.

Then, what other ways should the teachers use to punish students? There are many other ways that don't include corporal punishment. For example, teachers can talk to the students instead resorting to physical punishments right away. Many Korean teachers think that students won’t understand, and should receive a harsher punishment. This thought itself is wrong, since talking to students will allow them a better chance to learn from their mistakes Also, teachers can use reward systems more frequently that would encourage better behavior instead of leaning on abuse and corporal punishment.

Tom’s earlobe might have been saved if Mr.Lee didn’t use corporal punishment and used an alternative instead. These days, students face punishments that they are too extreme and may traumatize the young children that have to endure them. Teachers should be better role models for growing students and blockade themselves from harsh discipline and corporal punishment.






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