Daily Jewish Courier -- November 14, 1907Should Children Be Beaten?
Of late there has been a renewed movement among our school teachers to punish school children by hitting and beating them. Although this policy is confined to a comparatively small number of teachers, it should be recognized and dealt with.
As all other things of this nature, they start on a small scale and gradually become the prevailing practice. This subject has become the topic of discussion whenever educational problems are discussed. It is highly possible that a majority of the educators may accept this doctrine as the proper method for punishing children, and thus it will become a universal practice.
Let us look into the problem and consider the arguments of those who believe that only by raising a whip over a child's head, can they pound learning into their minds. This group maintains that only a portion of the child's time is spent in school; the remainder being spent in an atmosphere and environment at great variance with 2that which the school attempts to create. This undesirable atmosphere in which the child spends most of his time completely overbalances the influence of the desirable atmosphere created by the school. Thus, they maintain, a beating is the only thing that will properly control the child and "make something of him".
Furthermore, these teachers maintain that the children do not heed the instructions of the teacher and disturb class progress at every opportunity. One would think that in dealing with children you are dealing with humans incapable of doing harm;- the truth, however, is that children can be the worst brutes imabinable. A classroom of forty or fifty children can be the "meanest devils" in the world. Therefore they feel that a beating will put down their rebellious attitudes.
As you see, the above is merely an attitude of self-protection on the part of the teacher. In a measure there is a great deal of Justice in this view. A child lives in a world wholly different from our own. Many children's pranks are related to us that make our hair stand on edge.3
However, we hold a somewhat different view on the manner in which this can be remedied. Although we can conceive the expediency of a beating in some cases, we cannot accept that as an acceptable method of dealing with unruly children.
We maintain that in so very many cases children of very fine characters will have irreparable damage done to their personalities by beatings inflicted upon them by unscrupulous teachers.
Needless to say, this discussion which we are carrying on here is applicable to not only the public school system, but our own Hebrew Schools and Talmud Torah. Physical violence is no longer a proper medium for desired results. The damage inflicted upon our youth cannot be measured in terms of physical pain but in terms of irreparable damage to personality and character.
We feel that the teachers in the Talmud Torah and Hebrew Schools should be instructed as to the undesirability of the use of this type of method in obtaining results.
(Signed) M. Zifin
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