"Punishment can never achieve anything but temporary, resentful compliance, and it generates significant problems in the bargain," writes Alfie Kohn. "It doesn't make the school safer. The wrongdoer doesn't become a better person—just cleverer about avoiding detection."
I'm not so far down the gentle parenting path that I would take his argument to the conclusion that he does: punishing corrupt bankers, even, isn't helpful. And we should never punish children because it teaches other children that they, too, are only there under the good graces of those in power.
I'd like to see schools do more "working with," as he calls it. Certainly we don't need to paddle children or lock them in closets when they misbehave. And yet, this sort of thing is happening daily in public schools. Daily. So many of the teacher blogs and the like go on and on about, "Should Johnny get detention and what if his mom doesn't support us?" types of questions. The reality is that children are beaten and mistreated in schools by staff every. single. school day. So maybe we need to work on some of the parameters of what acceptable methods of "punishment" would even entail before we even talk of student bullying. We all of us lead by example.