Why It’s Time to Rethink the System of Punishments as Discipline

It’s the 21st century; the human race has achieved unprecedented progress in the fields of technology, medicine, and media, among others. Indeed, the world has and is continuously evolving to become better than it was before. But despite all these advancements, society seems to be stuck in the past.

This is not to discount any of the progress that human civilization has made, but it appears as if society is regressing instead of progressing in terms of moral soundness. This is because the society that people have today is built out of fear of punishments and those in power to maintain the so-called “order.”

In Local Governments and Communities

Nowadays, governing authorities maintain societal order by instilling fear of punishments among their citizens. The people become law-abiding citizens because they don’t want to pay the fines or receive the punishments caused by breaking the rules, and for a long time, that’s how the order was created.

However, the fear of punishment doesn’t really deter rule-breakers from breaking the law in the future; it only stops them momentarily. That’s because the roots of the problem are still intact. Imposing fines for infractions may stop some people from breaking the law repeatedly, but it doesn’t deter graver crimes from happening.

But if those who break the law were to be educated about why what they did was wrong instead of dismissing their wrongdoings with measly fines, then it might be able to make them think twice about their actions. Instead of being threatened to be thrown in jail, they can understand why a certain action is deemed punishable in the first place.

Take, for instance, those who receive traffic tickets for speeding and other moving violations. Those who break the law would have to undergo a basic driver improvement course online along with paying a fine before they can get back their license. This disciplinary action would urge drivers to understand what rule they failed to follow instead of only addressing the fact that a rule was broken.

In Schools

Before adolescents go out into the real world and are treated like adults in their own right, they first learn how to abide by the rules in their school environment. Most schools would have a set of rules and regulations that the students should follow, or else, they will be faced with consequences for their actions.

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Up until now, this was how students are disciplined in the school setting because corporal or physical punishments have finally been banned by the law. If students were to get caught in the act, then they would be inflicted with the corresponding punishment to deter them from repeating the same mistake.

However, what this system of punishment only achieves is to create a behavior among students that what they are doing is okay as long as they don’t get caught. It fails to address the problem at its source because it uses fear of punishment instead of appropriate disciplinary measures to correct a wrong.

If educators spent more time learning about why their students are acting the way they are instead of inflicting punishments as band-aid solutions, then maybe more students will become more morally sound adults. They will become law-abiding citizens because they know why rules were set in the first place and not because they fear the punishments that they will face if they break the law.

In Households

The first form of discipline that people receive is from their parents or guardians. As they grow, they learn to navigate the world on their own. They will make both good and bad decisions that most parents will reinforce with rewards and punishments, accordingly.

Through this method, they will learn what’s right from wrong because they receive praises and rewards when they do a good deed. On the other hand, they will face punishments and consequences if they do something bad. So many generations of children have been raised with this parenting style.

At first glance, it may seem like nothing is wrong with this method because it’s working and has worked for decades. But what it fails to consider is that children are learning to avoid making mistakes because they fear the punishment attached to the act, and not because they understand that what they’re doing is wrong.

And parents can’t really be blamed for passing on what their parents taught them, but learning that there’s another way to discipline children can help put a stop to this regressive cycle of punishment. Choosing to be better because they don’t punish their children won’t make them coddling or negligent parents.

It’s just that they realized their mistake and are confident that their children can learn what they have to without being punished. Progressive parents will be able to raise children who know how to make decisions for themselves and hopefully, eradicate the usual power struggles inside households.

At the end of the day, it will all come down to priorities. Do people want to live in a society filled with citizens who follow stringent laws because they are afraid of the repercussions? Or do they want to live in harmony because everyone understands their duties and responsibilities as members of society?

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