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Domestic CP - October 1907

Corpun file 19673


The New York Times, 22 October 1907

For Corporal Punishment.

A Father Who Thinks "Moral Suasion" Especially Subject to Abuse.

To the Editor of the New York Times:

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As the father of three boys, I desire to protest against a statement contained in Kinahan Cornwallis's letter about corporal punishment. He says, "Such punishment when inflicted by parents or others is always made in momentary anger or in hate." This is an absolute absurdity.

The majority of honest, thinking parents believe in and practice corporal punishment when circumstances appear to them to demand it. It is the result of or accompaniment of anger less often than most other forms of punishment.

As to the "moral right" of inflicting it, if a parent has a moral right to give a command, he has the right to compel obedience, not simply to ask it or argue for it. This gives the right to punish. But every form of punishment finds its critics. Even moral suasion is called by children, with more truth than poetry, "jawin'" and is classed by them as punishment, often more resented than a whipping. Every practical disciplinarian knows that no other form of punishment is so susceptible of abuse as so-called moral suasion, while in millions of cases its beneficial effect is not sufficient to work the needed reform.

In the same issue a writer suggests guard houses for bad schoolboys. Truant schools, parental schools, and reformatories are along the same line. All are forms of imprisonment, which time out of mind has been considered the proper punishment of criminals. It would be hard to convince the boy who has just received a deserved and corrective application of corporal punishment that he is on a lower plane as a result than the criminal behind the bars. These institutions are necessary, but would be less so if there were less sentimentality about discipline at home and at school.

Babylon, N. Y., Oct. 14, 1907.

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