It begins with children.
A spanked child will think about how their butt hurts, feelings of anger and resentment for the parent, and perhaps even how they want to run away from home rather than the potential negative consequences of the actions that brought on the punishment.
When we resort to punishment, it gives children someone to be mad at or blame, so there is little incentive to examine their own behavior and consequences. How about letting the natural negative consequences of the child's behavior do the enforcing?
If you use punishment, you have shifted responsibility for your child's behavior from them to you. Your actions say, "You are not in control, I am." If you accept the responsibility for your child's behavior then they will have to learn to be accountable when they are outside of your influence.
Do we want the reward for good deeds or performance to be parental approval, food, or other gifts? That method fosters dependence. What if we encourage intrinsic motivation? "You did it! You seem excited and proud of what you did." What if an external reward is not needed? What if instead, we help the child look inside themselves?
What if the same is true for behaviors we do not condone? Let's make a distinction between actions that may cause irreparable damage, actions that cause reparable damage, and actions that cause pain or discomfort. Let's think through the potential lessons a child may learn if we back off a bit and let them take more risks. And depending on their age, we can always talk calmly with them about natural consequences, rather than create artificial ones that serve to create resentment and distrust.
Now, obviously, we draw the line at certain behaviors like running into the street and initiating violence.
There is a growing movement called Peaceful Parenting. Do not mistake this for permissive parenting. You can find out more here: parenting.asp
Now how about adults?
What if we chose to adapt the same Peaceful Parenting, no punishment paradigm to how we deal with adults who behave in ways we do not like?
When we put a human being in a cage, we are increasing rather than decreasing the burden on the rest of us. Worse yet, we are perpetuating the cycle of violence. "You violated someone's right to consent, so we are going to do the same to you." What if there are better alternatives? What if we chose to perceive misdeeds as strategies to get needs met - strategies that happen to be destructive?
"Bob says something to Fred that stimulates anger in Fred.
A person hitting another person is attempting to get a needs for power or connection or justice met via a destructive, temporary results strategy.
Rather than putting rights violator in a cage, we can choose restitution. We can find safe ways to put the person to work, with the following benefits:
- "Victim" gets some recompense to hopefully balance out the violation of their body or property.
- The rights violator can be given the benefit of the doubt that they are a human being who made a mistake.
- The rights violator has a chance to see different strategies for meeting their needs for power, security, prosperity, connection, to be seen or heard, or respect.