Saturday, 16 January 2010

Physical punishment. The ancient method still in use?

Have you ever thought that a simple spank given to your child goes by a formidable name of a ‘corporal punishment’?

‘Corporal punishment is the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behavior deemed unacceptable.’[1]

The history of this form of ‘straightening’ goes even farther than 10 000 BC. It was used in Greece, Rome, Egypt in both judicial and educational purposes. A state well –known of its extreme usage of this willpower–building and physical–strengthening measure is Sparta.

While defining this term we may have three types of punishment in mind.

Domestic corporal punishment (within the family)

The subject raises much controversy especially in the western world. A 2000 survey showed that over sixty percent of parents accept spanking as a form of punishment[2]. Even at that time experts agreed: physical punishment may be linked to antisocial behaviors like cheating and misbehaving.

More recent publications[3] frown on this method of disciplining the child. Psychologists claim that one-years-olds treated with spanking are more likely to behave aggressively at the age of two and don’t perform well on thinking tests at the age of three.

Researches drew an interesting picture of the families social status pattern linked to the physical punishment phenomenon.

‘(…) spanking is more likely to be used by parents who are younger, less educated, of lower income, single, and⁄ or more depressed and stressed’ refers Lisa Berlin indicating the previous studies [Berlin, L. J., Malone, P. S., Ayoub, C. A, Ispa, J., Fine, M., Brooks-Gunn, J., Brady-Smith, C., & Bai, Y. (2009). Correlates and consequences of spanking and verbal punishment for low income White, African American, and Mexican American toddlers][4].

About 24 countries (mainly in Europe and Latin America) outlawed domestic corporal punishment, starting with Sweden (1979).

Judicial corporal punishment (as ordered by the court)

It’s a sentence applied to the offenders mainly in the Middle – East (Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan) and some African countries like Northern Nigeria. The form of the punishment may reach as controversial level as amputation but usually takes the form of public flogging as exemplified by quite a drastic case from Iran, 2007 (see the reference)[5].

And finally, let’s focus on…

School corporal punishment[6]

It’s an official method of reproving students for their misbehaviors at schools. It is often connected to a methodical ceremony. The item used to punish the student is often a paddle, a cane or a strap. Sometimes, at the elementary levels, an open hand is used instead of any implements.

Of course there are opponents and followers of the concept. It seems that the second group has the basis to defend the idea.

The example of John C. Calhoun Elementary School in Calhoun Hills (see the reference)[7] clearly shows the advantages of a light physical punishment when the need for a reprimand appears. Spanking is described as an ‘immediate response’ as opposed to suspension which lasts longer and gives the student ‘a free holiday’. The results of using physical punishment are visible on students’ behavior charts compared to the previous years.

The questionable aspect of calling to the order by spanking in schools is appearing when trying to analyze the emotional bond between a child and its parent and a lack of it in the teacher–student relation[8]. It’s said that parents ‘have their children's interests close to heart’ hence can apply a proper intensity of the punishment not crossing the thin line of a children abuse. Parents know their children better than teachers for it’s their responsibility. It is also lighter for a child to get over the humiliation with a limited number of witnesses.

Corporal punishment in schools has been outlawed in Canada, most of Europe, New Zealand, Japan and others. It’s still legal in (among the others) Middle-East and south-east Asia. Critics say this way of reprimanding students is an 18th century technique and is inefficient in a longer period of time.

What do you think about corporal punishment? Is it a right method to be used at homes or in schools? Should it be used in modern times? Wrtie your opinions about this topic.











  1. I don't think that physical punishment is effective in any way. It is not facing the problem, but only the way to get rid of it. After such an act of aggression the root of the issue is still intact, but the fear and tension between both sides rises which can lead to more serious problems.

  2. I agree with you. I also think that physical punishment can’t solve any problem. When parents spank their child it only enlarge problems. Children who are beaten, have problems with communication. How can talk with someone who does harm them?
    In my opinion even spanks can have big influence on sense of self-worth of a child. Aggression is a source of aggression. If the child see at home that the only solution of any problem is being brutal, how could he know that it isn’t true? In my opinion corporal punishment should be forbidden all over the world. We ought to talk with children and explain them what is good or wrong, but never beat them!

  3. It's really difficult theme for me. I have never been spanked by my parents or teacher because fortunately they hadn't such necessary. I don't believe that it may solve any problem. Next I can't imagine that I could hit someone in order to upbringing. But on the other hand I know that there are such naughty children that adults just feel powerless and the only thing which such children are afraid of is a corporal punishment. I know such examples even if I think it's disgusting and it just makes an abomination. I hope I will never be in situation when I will be powerless against any child.

  4. I think corporal punishment or mental health should be prohibited. We live in the twenty-first century, this type of punishemnt is simply unthinkable. Helplessness for me it is absolutely no excuse.

  5. I have never been spanked and I'm a normal person I think. I'm not selfish or malicious I have good relations with other people. I think that people shouldn't beat their children because there're other methods that are more effective like prohibitions for some things. When I'll have children I'll try not to be angry when they'll misbehave but I don't know how hard may it be.

  6. I think that people use physical punishment when they don't know what to do, when they feel helpless. It's the way to wreak one's anger but it doesn't solve any problems. Serious conversation will have better effects than beating children.

  7. The world has changed again. People stopped to climb the trees, started to clean their teeth, stopped living in caves, started to make their meals in microwave ovens. And stopped to spank their children. Its the natural way of evolution. And if someone don't believe in evolution or other devils theories then he can go and live among apes in the jungle. But remember apes also don't spank their children!

  8. Wow! I am the choosen one! I have been spanked by my parents and i'm grateful for it. You could not truste me, but it's true. Nowadays i really think that was a good lesson. Don't think that my parents didn't talk to me or my siblings. Conversation is probably the most importatnt part of human life, especially for children. But there are some situation when you don't have time to explain childre that he's doing sth wrong or dangerous. yeah, i know that ''you had time for conversation before that'', but kids are only human and they forget what you told them. And what now? You will be talking to your children when he will be runing next to teh road full of cars? I know that idea are brilliant, but we most of us should wait for their children and then see how life looks like.

  9. I believe that corporal punishment has more drawbacks than amenities, this kind of punishing doesn't work because children don't respect it at all. But I agree that in some situations a simple spank is better than talk. I haven't been hit as a child but I will never forget when I was about three years old and I got a smack because I went upstairs on really steep stairs to the attic, although I wasn't allow to do it, I didn't realize how dangerous it was. Since then I I remembered that I couldn't do it :D

  10. Right, we can't compare a single smack with domestic violence. But I don't support corporal punishment in no case.
    Task of raising children is the most intricate and need to be based on parental wisdom and all-embracing love.
    Only mentional disordered parents will be able to hit their children.

  11. I agree with you, that spank isn't the same as punishment. Violence in every place - homes, schools or else - is bad and we mustn't be "tolerant" in this situation. Parents, who use physical punishent, teach children they also could do that. And then this children, when they grew up, are aggressive. It's like a circle and cause only more problems.

  12. I too agree that punishment is the same as spank.
    Nowadays I don't think that corporal punishment is used. I nece heard something like that. In my opinion teacher should talk with children not spank. For me it the worst method which people could do in home or school to childern.

  13. When I was a child I was smacked many times, but never seriously. Looking on that experience I don't think it was form of agression or something which had bad influence on future. I even prefered smacks than next kind of punishment in my home: closing alone in a room for eg. one hour. Personally, I want to avoid smacking my children (if I will have some) in future, becouse talking with them is the most important, but I also don't disapprove people who use that method. We can't identify light smack with great suffering of a child.

  14. In my opinion everything depends on borders of punishment and abusing. The violence isn't a good solution - it causes agression, it can destroy kids' sesitivity. However, sometimes corporal punishment is necessary - a light spank, just to command respect. But it should be avoided if possible.

  15. There are many mathods to good bring up the children. In my opinion using punishment testify about helplessness and weakness. It never solve the main problem...never, it could just a worse...

  16. Obviously it shouldn't happened in this times we have! this is unbelievable that people think this methods can help and change children behaviour. it only teach them how to be agressive. they will do it on their future kids because they will think it is right. this is so unreal...

  17. I am absolutely against corporal punishment. It brings only psychological problems instead of helping in something. Can't we find other ideas to solve problems of bad behaviour? Of course we can, but corporal punishment is the easiest for parents or teachers. They don't want to think about sth else, sth positive. Corporal punishment should be prohibitted for sure!

  18. Obviously it's unacceptable! We can force children to do someting with our physical strength, it only will cause harm and frustration. We must remember that we can not build relationship with children based on fear. That kind of punishment should be forbidden.

  19. A few tens of years ago physical punishment was something normal, considered as a means of both the education at school and at home. Today is a popular model of "no stress" education of the child. This is also surely because between parents and children are frends relationships. Parents devote more time to talk with their children and explain to them the various issues instead of using violenc.I think that this is definitely a better way

  20. When physical punishment was normal, nobody say to the teacher somothing bad. Everybody was regard to teachers, parents and others. Nowadays, when physical punisment is practically prohibited, look what is around...

  21. I'm strongly against this kind of punishment. there are better ways to punish people or prevent crime and disobidiency. the problem is that there is still more and more crime , terrorism and bullying around.