Several studies, for example, demonstrate that the more children are threatened with punishment, the more they lie and the better they get at it. In one, kids who attend a traditional colonial school in western Africa, where teachers frequently slap children for misdeeds, were especially likely to lie progressively more in order to avoid the consequences.
The above, from today’s New York Times review of a new book by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman about current child rearing practices and how they may not stick or work and why, struck a particular chord with me because it is something I puzzled over when I taught in Sierra Leone — the children who were most beaten (not just slapped) with canes were the ones who were most mischievous. (I, who could not and would not discipline this way, spent months figuring out other ways to manage my classes successfully.) I’d already been interested this book after reading several excerpts including a much-discussed section on race in Newsweek. This review makes me want to all the more.