Although William Carlos Williams spent much of his life as a pediatrician, and perhaps had actually experienced more than one difficult encounter with a sick child, “The Use of Force” is not simply a story about one doctor’s admirable efforts to save a child from her own stubborn self, nor is it a story about one doctor’s attacking a child with sadistic cruelty. If the event were described in a novel about the experiences of a small-town doctor, it might be merely an example of one such encounter among many others. However, the story suggests a more universal and general meaning because it is a short story, leading the reader to presume it will have some central significance; because the encounter is told in such violent, seemingly symbolic terms; and because it includes the doctor’s philosophic conclusion about what drives him to force the child’s mouth open.
The use of force is a legal concept, a principle that allows authorities to exercise physical force against another person if such force is deemed justifiable to protect the individual or to protect society from the individual. The principle is not without controversy. For example, sometimes police are accused of an unjustified use of force to subdue a suspected criminal or to quell protesters. Whereas law enforcement argues that such use of force is necessary to protect others or itself, critics often argue that law enforcement is sadistic and cruel, that it uses force to attack an individual or a group of which they disapprove.
The doctor in this story, a professional healer who epitomizes rational control and embodies a basic human desire to help others, knows the meaning of his actions when he says he has gone beyond reason in his struggle with the child. Although he has society on his side—as he says, the child must be protected from herself, and others must be protected from her spreading the disease—he knows that what drives him at the moment he tries to get the tongue depressor in her mouth is unthinking fury, what he calls a longing for muscular release. These thoughts lead to his shame.
The story does not...
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The Use Of Force By The Police
Definition of Police Force
Force is used to physically restrain someone. This action is usually undertaken by a member of the law enforcement to control an unruly individual or situation. The International Association of Chiefs of Police defines it as the effort which is required to compel a subject who is unwilling into compliance. However, there is no worldwide agreed on amount of force needed in such cases.
It is important for law enforcement personnel to balance the rights of the individual and ethical concerns, with the need for security. A justifiable reason to use force and inflict injuries on a civilian is if the officer is acting in self-defense. In the U.S. military guards on duty are briefed by their commanding officer regarding the use of force, before they are put on duty.
Factors involved in the decision
Every situation is different, as is every officer. This is why an awareness of a situation is necessary. Officers are subject to training in which they learn to judge the amount of force required to gain control in a variety of situations. Time constraints play an important part in the determination of whether force is needed or not.
Guidelines for the decision
There are five general steps which present a guideline as to the amount of force required in a situation. The level of force will correspond to a series of actions that an officer can take in order to deal with a situation. These start with the presence of an officer, and end with deadly force being used. The transitional steps involve verbalization, using empty hands to search and relieve any weapons, and using impact non-lethal weapons on the subject.
Using the force continuums
These are rough guidelines on the standard amount of force used in a certain situation. It provides a guideline for civilians and officers of the law and aims to clarify the force that is legal for an officer to use. These guidelines often play a central part in the policies that the agencies for law enforcement outline and use. There are a variety of models for force continuum and each agency will have their own version.
Using different levels of force
Officers for law enforcement should use force when it is necessary, and only to mitigate a situation, protect the citizens from harm or make the arrest. The amount of force used will depend on the incident, the officer’s training and their experience.
Force should always be the officer’s last option, used only to ensure the safety of the community when all other practices fail.