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.’
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. Even at that time experts agreed: physical punishment may be linked to antisocial behaviors like cheating and misbehaving.
More recent publications 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].
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).
And finally, let’s focus on…
School corporal punishment
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) 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. 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.