It might be asked what safeguards could be introduced in order to prevent unjust corporal punishment. In schools there are numerous possibilities. First there could be restrictions on 1) the offenses for which the child may be physically punished; 2) the implement used to inflict the punishment; 3) the number of blows; 4) the places on the body to which such punishment may be administered. These and other requirements could be monitored in a variety of ways. For example, it could be required that all punishments and reasons for punishments be approved by the principal, or that a teacher other than the punisher be present during punishment, or that parents be notified of all physical punishments. School psychologists or inspectors could interview children from time to time about punitive practices. Punishment within families is less easily monitored, at least if we are to respect people's privacy. But because it is even more difficult to monitor parental compliance with an unqualified ban on corporal punishment than it is to monitor parental compliance with a ban on only severe physical punishment, this monitoring problem provides no support for the elimination of all corporal punishment in homes. Rather what is called for is a sensitization of those (such as doctors and teachers as well as children themselves) who are well placed to detect abusive punishment. That is the very mechanism we use to detect other forms of abuse of children.


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