Would Canada be a safer place if criminals faced the prospect of a painful whipping following conviction?A group of Winnipeg Rotary club members I spoke to this week certainly think it would be.I was just a few minutes into what would end up being an hour-long lunchtime chat when one of the members put up his hand, indicating he had a question."What do you think about bringing back the lash?"What followed was a lengthy explanation from the retired senior about how he'd received more than a few belts to his backside during his formative years and how he is a better person because of it.Others in the room shared similar stories, agreeing corporal punishment was certainly an effective deterrent in their younger years.And how it's a shame today's "little punks" can't face a similar fate from the justice system.The discussion certainly caught me off-guard, as I've never been one to believe in dishing out physical punishment for any reason.Call me a softie, but I don't see how flogging some troubled teen who's likely been exposed to years of abuse and/or neglect will accomplish anything.The fact is, punishment of any kind does little to actually deter criminal activity. If it did, wouldn't U.S. states that have the death penalty naturally have the lowest murder rates? Yet they clearly don't.That's because the majority of crime is committed by people who act on impulse, rarely consider the consequences and are often clouded by drugs or alcohol.That's not an excuse. It's just a reality.And I guess I'm in the camp that feels it's always better to try and address the root causes of crime - poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, broken homes, boredom.That's not to say I don't believe in severe sanctions for violent offenders, especially those who have already snubbed their noses at the chance for rehabilitation.Locking them up for a long time is fine by me and ensures they won't hurt anyone else during that period.But we're fooling ourselves if we think that type of approach will be the magical cure to crime we all would like to see.Just like the answers won't be found on a leather paddle either.