Is there a difference?
When you say “discipline”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a swat on the butt? A smack on the hand? Or maybe you think of grounding, removal of a favorite toy, sitting in the corner, etc.
These are in actuality forms of punishment.
When you say “punishment”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Getting smacked in the face (hard enough to leave bruises)? Getting hit with a foreign object like a belt, wooden spoon, or other item that leaves excruciating bruises, welts, cuts and scars? Being locked up in a small room with no light, very little airflow, or room to stand or stretch out?
These are in actuality forms of abuse.
If you look the two terms up in most dictionaries or other reference material, you most likely will find that the terms are considered synonymous with each other. One is the outcome of the other.
We have thought of discipline and punishment in conjunction with each other for so long that it is difficult for us to separate them. Unfortunately, this is exactly what we need to do.
I feel that the dry definitions of these two words do not show the whole picture.
So, in my infinite wisdom, I am taking a leap of faith and writing down how I feel that we should go about separating. Believe me when I say, that this is very nerve-wracking for me. Living through abuse as a child makes this a difficult subject for me to be non-aggressive in the stamping on someone else’s views. But I will do my best to keep this general, informative and thought-provoking.
Here we go:
Discipline is what humans, both individually (as parents) and socially (as a society), use to instill order in our environment. This can be done through self-discipline, familial discipline, societal discipline, political discipline, cultural discipline, or religious discipline. When you get right down to it, discipline is a means of teaching one’s self and/or those around us what is good and acceptable for us.
Discipline is also the teaching of others what is acceptable behavior within societal environs. Basically, this is done by explaining to those around us what society likes or does not like of different types of behavior. These explanations can get very repetitive with young children, persons with certain types of disabilities and those that are just plain stubborn in accepting what you are teaching. This constant repetition can get very frustrating, but a strong enough form of self-discipline can prevent the breakdown into excessive punishment (known as abuse). As an example, just think about this simple question that everyone who has been around young children knows quite well. “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?” Irritatin’ ain’t it?
Discipline can usually be accomplished by the simple expedient of saying “Please don’t do that” or “I like what you just did” or “I appreciate how you acted just now” or “That is not very nice”. That is it. That is all it takes (granted it takes multiple repetitions to get the point across) to let the people around you know what is acceptable to you. In a societal setting though, we have to get a bit more specific. Hence the laws that have been codified refined and expanded on throughout the centuries. They are basically a large group of people saying “We will not accept (this type of behavior)” or “(This type of behavior) is not good for society”.
People that use the above form of discipline have usually been denigrated for being weak or wishy-washy, when in actuality they are following the true definition of the term. Those who denigrate their methods are thinking about punishment.
Punishment is the consequence of the failure to do what is good and acceptable to those around you. If you choose to “break the rules” of the individual, family, society, culture or religion that you are in, then you will be forcefully reminded, either verbally or physically, that you messed up. This can take many forms from shunning to death.
Punishment is definitely something that should fit the “crime”. The degree of punishment naturally depends on the severity of the “crime” and the number of people who were affected. Obviously refusing to eat your peas when you are a toddler is not going to require as much punishment as going on a mass murder spree when you are an adult.
A simple “No” works very well with very young toddlers and infants old enough to know what it means. Unfortunately, humans have this nasty propensity to push the boundaries on a regular basis. Therefore, once we know that the other person understands the concept of “no”, and continues to behave unacceptably, the form of punishment we use must be increased (in very small increments) until a balance has been achieved. There is no need to knock a child down because they tried to grab something out of your hand. A light slap on the hand is enough.
Conversely, someone who knows the difference between right and wrong that deliberately sets out to cause harm to those around them should not be let off with a slap on the hand. If you are old enough to understand “I don’t like this being done to me, so other people probably won’t like it either” and then intentionally harm someone else, then you should be punished in such a manner that you won’t want to harm another ever again.
Some ideas of punishment that come to me include making the crime and punishment public (no matter what the criminal’s age, sex, religion, politics, race, etc.). Embarrassment is a wonderful form. Punishment is meant to be unpleasant. Also, get rid of the TV’s, computers, exercise equipment and fictional books that are routinely found in our jails and prisons. If you are worried about the inmates becoming unruly or even going so far as to riot, keep them in separate rooms when they are not working their butts off. You can keep them busy by re-instituting chain-gangs and physical labor nationwide. If the criminal want something to read (should they are still awake enough), let them read from dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks and other types of instructional material. Another reason to keep them busy or separated is to contain the forced sex that occurs in this type of situation.
Jail is not meant to be abusive or dangerous to health. Having medical services in the prison itself is a definite keeper. We definitely want to keep the indoor plumbing, actual mattresses, proper food, clothing and shoes, as well. I also feel that having access to telephones and visitation is beneficial, as well. They are reminders to the criminal of what he/she is missing out on by committing a crime. I do not believe that conjugal visitations have any benefit above the previous sentence what so ever. It is nothing more than saying that it is ok for some to get what others can’t have. It is a source of disruption. If you want to get laid, then you shouldn’t have committed the crime.
If the crime is horrendous enough, I am a firm believer in the death penalty. I also feel that criminals that flat-out refuse to accept society’s laws and repeatedly commit vicious crimes should be added to the horrendous crime category. Most likely their multiple crimes equal one horrendous crime. On top of that, if the death penalty is handed down, it should be implemented within a fairly short period of time. If you are going to use it, then friggen use it! I realize that the criminal has the right to appeals, but there are only so many times that you can rehash the evidence without coming up with something new to use as a mitigating circumstance. If it was in the evidence, then it would have been set out in the first place. If you were found guilty of the horrendous crime because you committed it, then why should we allow you to sit on death row, sucking up tax dollars and wasting people’s time having to take care of you? I know that there are people out there that will be extremely offended by this, but a bullet or a rope does not cost near as much as using the electric chair or euthanasia drugs. You might want to keep that in mind.
Crimes affecting a large number of people, like drug dealing or bank robbery, should also be in this category. Drug dealing, especially in the upper levels, reaches hundreds or thousands of people either directly (users) or indirectly (family, friends, coworkers or victims of the users crimes). Bank robbing also affects hundreds or thousands of people by causing financial insurance rates to go up nationwide, which is then passed on to the customers in general. Both of these crimes generally have a death that can be attributed to them, as well. They also cause taxes to be used to catch the criminal, bring them to trial and keep them in jail. This results in taxes being raised nationwide. (Oops! I just realized that the last sentence is true for all other crimes, so I may need to figure out how to keep a petty criminal from being sentenced to death along with the extreme criminals. It is very difficult to keep the levels separate, isn’t it?)
By instituting and enforcing these types of measures we can build a more stable society, reduce the number of crimes committed and a cause a major reduction of the number of prisons needed. Not to mention a reduction in the taxes required to run them all. The down side to this type of reduction is the loss of jobs available. That would be something to look into prior to implementing any sweeping legal changes.
Conversely, the taxes saved from not building and staffing prisons could go to building and staffing schools. The way things are going in this day and age, I am sure that many schools would be more than happy to accept security staff that was trained to handle criminals in most situations. What little training needed for the other situations wouldn’t take very long or cost near as much. Hmmmm….that would take care of the job issue, and would make it easier for the teachers and other staff members. Just think of how many workers that we would be able to move from prisons to schools. It would definitely increase the safety of our children.