Corporal Punishment

corporal punishment, physical chastisement of an offender. At one extreme it includes the death penalty (see capital punishment), but the term usually refers to punishments like flogging, caning, mutilation, and branding. Until c.1800, in many parts of the world, most crimes were punished thus, or by such practices as confinement in the pillory or stocks, which combined physical chastisement with the humiliation of an individual possible in a relatively small, cohesive society. Flogging was especially prevalent, being used also to keep order among the institutionalized insane and in schools and the armed forces.

In America, a movement against the use of corporal punishment was led in the late 17th cent. by Quakers who achieved local reforms in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The 18th cent. saw a general reaction against violent punishment, and with the emergence of the modern concept of rehabilitating an offender, confinement has been accompanied more by forms of moral, rather than physical, coercion. Nonetheless, the use of the whipping post survived in the United States into the 20th cent., and was last used in 1952 in Delaware.

The effectiveness of corporal punishment has been questioned by criminologists and educators, but it is still widely used. Flogging, for instance, was not banned in South Africa until 1995, and caning is employed in Singapore and Malaysia. Within British and American prisons flogging and beatings are still used, unofficially, to maintain order. Mutilation, including amputation of fingers and hands, is also used in some countries, especially in those whose legal system is based on Islamic law. Caning and spanking remain common in schools in some areas of the United States and Britain. Movements to restore or encourage corporal punishment of children recur periodically, as in rural and Southern parts of the United States.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

More Harm Than Good: A Summary of Scientific Research on the Intended and Unintended Effects of Corporal Punishment on Children
Gershoff, Elizabeth T.
Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 73, No. 2, Spring 2010
Strategies for Classroom Discipline
Meryl E. Englander.
Praeger, 1987
Librarian’s tip: "Corporal Punishment in the Schools" begins on p. 33
Classroom Management: Sound Theory and Effective Practice
Robert T. Tauber.
Bergin & Garvey, 1999 (3rd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "James Dobson: A Place for Punishment"
Schooling as Violence: How Schools Harm Pupils and Societies
Clive Harber.
RoutledgeFalmer, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Schooling as Terrorism: Physical Punishment"
Issue of Corporal Punishment: Re-Examined
Andero, Abraham A.; Stewart, Allen.
Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 29, No. 2, June 2002
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Effect of Corporal Punishment on Antisocial Behavior in Children
Grogan-Kaylor, Andrew.
Social Work Research, Vol. 28, No. 3, September 2004
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Psychology of Parental Control: How Well-Meant Parenting Backfires
Wendy S. Grolnick.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003
Librarian’s tip: "Corporal Punishment" begins on p. 35
The New Handbook of Children's Rights: Comparative Policy and Practice
Bob Franklin.
Routledge, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 23 "Global Progress towards Giving up the Habit of Hitting Children"
African American Family Life: Ecological and Cultural Diversity
Vonnie C. McLoyd; Nancy E. Hill; Kenneth A. Dodge.
Guilford Press, 2005
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "The Cultural Context of Physically Disciplining Children"
Jews and Violence: Images, Ideologies, Realities
Peter Y. Medding.
Oxford University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: "Corporal Punishment in Jewish Education: A Philosophical-Educational Exploration" begins on p. 168
The Challenge of Children's Rights for Canada
Katherine Covell; R. Brian Howe.
Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "The Rights of Protection"
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