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ERIC Number: EJ1004329
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 8
ISSN: ISSN-1089-5701
The Problem with Punishment
Lee, Scott
Reclaiming Children and Youth, v21 n4 p51-54 Win 2013
It is seldom useful to try to persuade staff to abandon coercive methods in the moment when they are angry or frustrated with students. Instead, these topics can be discussed during new employee orientation and in ongoing staff development. Ironically, many staff members share that in their own roles as parents they seldom rely on spanking or other severe sanctions. Significant numbers report that they themselves were not harshly punished as children either. Instead, caring adults are likely to invest a great deal of time teaching their own kids social skills, often intuitively through modeling and instilling values. Yet when confronted with students who have not been taught the same skills for respectfully interacting with others, their instinct is to react to the youth's problem behavior with punishment. A core principle in Response Ability Pathway (RAP) training, supported by brain research, is that troubled kids are showing "pain-based behavior" (Anglin, 2003; Brendtro, Mitchell, & McCall, 2009). Since punishment entails administering more pain, this often only intensifies distress and causes youth to see adults as their enemies. The dynamics of this counterproductive "tit-for-tat" conflict cycle should be taught to new staff members and frequently revisited throughout a staff member's time of service. While it may be natural for staff to expect troubled students to show positive behavior, this will never happen if they slip into coercive child-rearing strategies. RAP does not promote permissiveness or tolerance of destructive behavior; rather, it prescribes a different type of consequence. Youth are engaged in respectful communication to consider how their behavior is hurting self and others and to learn more effective ways to meet their needs. The core principles of RAP address problems as opportunities to "connect" with youth in order to help them "clarify" challenges and "restore" bonds of respect. (Contains 2 tables.)
Reclaiming Children and Youth. PO Box 57 104 N Main Street, Lennox, SD 57039. Tel: 605-647-2532; Fax: 605-647-5212; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A