Home > Free Essays > Sociology > Overcoming Difficulties > Corporal punishment
Cite this

Corporal punishment Essay

Internationally, corporal punishment is considered to be one of the most ignored topics. Hot debates and discussions on the issues have been launched within vast communities globally. In simple language, corporal punishment can be defined as any use of physical force on someone with the intentions of correcting behavior (Prue and Alister par. 1).

In this paper, the entire discussion focuses on the cultural view upon corporal punishment and how it progressed with time. The paper also explains as to why through generations people preferred corporal punishment as discipline measure in child rearing despite of the consequences in has.


Corporal punishment has been known for long to be the best way of inflicting discipline on children. The punishment basically involves hitting a child with the hand, smacking, belting and even spanking (David par. 5). Moreover, there are other ways in which corporal punishment can also be administered. They include; kicking, biting, shaking and even forcing the child to stay in a discomfort environment for a period of time. Historically, corporal punishment was introduced back in the 10th century.

In most communities, the cultural rules expect children to fully comply with their parents or teachers directives. Failure to comply with the directives given calls for severe corporal punishment administered to the child. Many people confuse corporal punishment with physical abuse.

It is clear that corporal punishment involve inflicting mild pain on the body. On the other hand, physical abuse involves subjection to painful experience leading to injury development (David par. 8). Notable to mention is that, in the current world, the degree of punishment administration is regulated by the law.

How is corporal punishment viewed cross-culturally?

Internationally, there are very many communities practicing different cultures. It is because of this that multicultural jurisprudence has been developed. This offer wider range of substantive solution to matter arising as a result of communities clashes. Most of these cultural clashes arise due to children issues. Therefore, it is important to mention that different communities have developed different mechanism used in child rearing practices.

It can be noted that, such practices are widely divergent internationally. On the same note, the main divergent practice in child rearing is disciplinary measures employed (Alison p. 256). Many communities have different definition to the word child discipline. It is clear that majority of communities globally, embrace the use of physical force in correcting behavior. This is known as corporal punishment. It is meant to ensure that the child socialize well with everyone in the society.

Corporal punishment according to most community is a cultural practice that is mandatory. In anthropology, there is the theory of cultural relativism that deeply explains different cultural interpretation on corporal punishment. Based on the theory, it is evident that most communities treasure the fact that morality in the society must be strongly constructed (Alison p. 256).

This means that most communities do practice corporal punishment to maintain high standard of morality despite having different cultural beliefs. In this case, most traditional cultures have set a standard of tolerance as a way of achieving community expectation.

There are different forms of administering physical punishment according to culture. This means that, different communities have their own form of punishing children. Such punishment must be implemented even if it violates both national and international punishment standard. Additionally, the American cultural practice has been ranked to be one of the worst and the cruelest form of physical punishment internationally. This is according to societies with traditional cultures that are treated under the same collection (Alison p. 257).

On the other hand, cultural punishment practices should not be viewed as abusive as far as child rearing is concerned. This is because the practices are purely in accordance with the entire community standard. This means that all community members are in agreement with the cultural practice. It is important for each community to maintain high disciplinary standard on their children in whatsoever way. However, it is wrong for anyone to criticize a particular community for their customary practices.

Outsiders must learn to comply with every strategy employed to promote morality within a community. As long as the main objective of corporal punishment is to boost good socialization among people, then communities must be encouraged to go on. This is because discipline is an important aspect that must not be ignored in child rearing practice (Alison p. 258).

What are the different motivations for engaging in corporal punishment in child-rearing?

Corporal punishment is a disciplinary measure employed on children breaking either parents or teachers directives. This can be at any level. Violation of rules can occur either at home or even at school. There are different motivating factors contributing to the administration of corporal punishment. However, these factors widely vary depending on the environment and location of the child.

Research studies have revealed that in America, majority of parents employ corporal punishment on their children (Elizabeth p. 10). This means that most parents use physical force in administering discipline to their children. Statistically, almost two thirds of parents with children under 2 years punish their children physically (Elizabeth p. 10).

Moreover, 80% and 85% of parents in America physically punished their children at 5th grade and adolescent respectively. This is a clear evidence of how corporal punishment was highly treasured in America culturally.

The most contributing factor to physical punishment is lack of clear legislative policies that govern the consistency in which corporal punishment should be implemented. Therefore, whenever the child commits any mistake, the parents are always ready to administer painful physical punishment.

There are children who are generally disadvantaged as far as corporal punishment is concerned. In America, according to gender, the male child is more exposed than the female (Prue and Alister par. 13). Most American parents would prefer light punishment for the girl child. Contrary, the boy child is always exposed to tough physical punishment.

There are other family motivating factors. Family population is another key motivating factor (Prue and Alister par. 13). In most cases, parents in large family go through hard time especially when trying to maintain high morality standard among their children.

Factors like economic disadvantage also contribute and increase the likelihood of parents resorting to physical punishment (Prue and Alister par. 13). Parents are most likely to employ corporal punishment depending on their ethnic background and religious beliefs.

In some communities, religion form very strong foundation on people lives. People are bound to live and operate following the religious teaching. Therefore, if the use of physical punishment on children is fully approved, then parents are bound to implement it according to the religion.

Furthermore, there are parent who administer severe physical punishment to their children simply because they passed through the same when they were children. According to such parent experience, corporal punishment is the only way to make a child obedient and successful (Elizabeth p. 12).

Low level of education among parents is another factor that can contribute to employment of corporal punishment in child rearing process (Elizabeth p.12). This is because such parents do not understand or approve civilized strategies of disciplining children. Therefore, children are subjected to the traditional system of punishment administration their parent know (Elizabeth p.12).

The other contributing factor includes the weigh of the misbehavior committed by the child. There are misbehaviors children engage in that could easily force their parent to use physical punishment. For example; if the child seriously hurt someone else or does something that could endanger life. In such scenario, most parents due to anger are likely to employ severe physical punishment (Elizabeth p.12).

What are the different motivations for rejecting corporal punishment in child-rearing?

In child rearing, parents must ensure that their children have access to full protection. Protection in this case refers to subjection to minimal pain and suffering.

Internationally, there are countries that have come up with new legislative laws on corporal punishment (Prue and Alister par. 3). The law control and guide parents on how to administer punishment on their children. This is because there are children who sustain serious injuries due to corporal punishment.

This is against the international principles of proper child care. One of the motivating factors contributing to rejection of corporal punishment is the strict legislative law on parents who cause injuries on their children that can last for over 24 hours (Prue and Alister par. 4).

Such cases are considered to be physical child abuse and they are illegal. Parents are also encouraged to avoid hitting private and delicate parts of the body when administering corporal punishment. Therefore, parents who ignore such rules are liable to face prosecution.

The other factor is the knowledge on the negative effects corporal punishment creates on the child. This has also contributed to the decline of physical punishment. Research has proven that children who are frequently subjected to severe corporal punishment may develop an impaired mental status. This might force the child to grow up associated with psychological maladjustments in adulthood. Therefore, most parents have dropped corporal punishment because of the negative side effect it has on children.

It is known that one of the main objectives of corporal punishment is to correct behavior. However, most parents have realized that the more they punish their children the more they become rude. This means that the more corporal punishment is administered to a child, the more aggressive and disobedient the child becomes.

Therefore, many parents have sought for other civilized punishment methods rather than corporal punishment (Prue and Alister par. 4). In the end, this has contributed to the decline of corporal punishment administration.

How do motivation factors make sense within the cultural context?

It is important to mention there is no guarantee that all the mention motivation factors would bear 100% positive results. Within the cultural context, it is vital to explain the reason as to why corporal punishment does not make sense. To begin with, corporal punishment in real life situation does not teach children as to why the behavior committed was wrong (Elizabeth p. 12).

This is purely against the cultural punishment practices. According to the culture, criminals must be told of the crime they committed before judgment. But corporal punishment does not offer this option.

Different cultural groups globally have varying ways of endorsing physical punishment as a strategy of inflicting discipline on children. It is clear that most parents would support physical punishment once it is a cultural practice that has been embraced for years. In this context, no parent would ever agree to the fact that corporal punishment is harmful to children and should be abandoned.

Contrary, in the community, there are people with different opinion. Not all parents would believe that physical punishment is the only alternative method of punishing the child. These are the people who reject corporal punishment even if it is a cultural practice (Elizabeth p. 19).

Has corporal punishment practices changed over time?

In America, the use of corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure in child rearing has been strongly used throughout generations. Since the 17th century, corporal punishment has been the only solution for parents who wanted to correct their children characters. Nevertheless, this practice is currently fading away slowly. The beginning of 21st century opened new hope for children in America. Back in the 1960s, about 94% of American parents approved and supported the use of corporal punishment (Elizabeth p. 11).

Research conducted at that time revealed that over 80% of American parent agreed to the fact that hitting a child helps in correcting behavior (Elizabeth p. 11). Nevertheless, as time went by, this cultural belief faded away slowly. In the year 2004, the same researchers concluded that the number of people supporting corporal punishment had reduced.

Moreover, the percentage of parents agreeing with corporal punishment also dropped to about 71.3% (Elizabeth p. 11). In this case, it was clear that despite some parents do support corporal punishment; the number of supporting parents was gradually dropping.

Furthermore, a survey conducted in the year 2005 revealed that only 23% of American parents approve corporal punishment to be used in schools (Elizabeth p. 11). This means that over 70% of American parents strongly rejected the use of physical punishment in schools. This was a clear indication that the use of corporal punishment was declining at a very steady state.

The other evidence to the fact that corporal punishment was fading away in America was the establishment of corporal punishment task force in the year 1992 (Michael and Murray par. 15). The task force was introduced by the American department of children affairs.

The work of the task force was to campaign against the implementation of physical punishment on children. Similarly, another task force was also introduced by the American academy of pediatrics (Michael and Murray par. 15). In addition, the American national advocacy organization was also introduced in the year 1992.

All this was devoted solely in the struggle to completely eliminate implementation of corporal punishment in child rearing. In 1992, a stimulating motto saying; end physical punishment of children (EPOCH) was also formed (Michael and Murray par. 15).

The introduction of EPOCH further steered forward the fight against corporal punishment in America. EPOCH grew to be an international slogan and extended widely the fight against corporal punishment in other countries like United Kingdom. Ironically, it is important to mention that, corporal punishment has been widely neglected for long across the globe (Michael and Murray par. 17).

This has been the main reason for the slowness in eradicating the practice. It is evident that even books meant to campaign against corporal punishment are very scarce globally (Michael and Murray par. 17).

Most ironical is that, the few books available only contain information on corporal punishment not more than half a page. This neglect is one of the key contributing factors as to why corporal punishment is still being implemented internationally (Michael and Murray par. 17).

In America, the use of physical punishment has greatly reduced in school today. Most schools have reduced the employment of physical punishment on their students. In some states like Iowa and New Jersey, physical punishment has completely been banned in all schools (Michael and Murray par. 17).

Internationally, about 23 countries have successfully prohibited the use of physical punishment as a corrective measure in child rearing (Prue and Alister par. 10). However, the entire process slowly began in schools through legislative mechanism (Prue and Alister par. 10). Furthermore, this was followed by the removal of lawful correction defense most parents used to promote corporal punishment (Prue and Alister par. 10).

This means that there was no more defense excuse in court by parents and that corporal punishment on children was considered to be serious crime. It is also evident that in most countries, corporal punishment on children precisely in specific setting like schools has also been abolished.

This achievement was also promoted widely after the formation of global initiative to end corporal punishment on children 2008 (Prue and Alister par. 10). In summary, however, it is important to point out that corporal punishment has greatly declined with time. The cultural perspective people had on physical punishment is now fading away slowly.

The advancement of civilization and modern education has enabled most parents to employ other ways of effectively disciplining their children. This has killed the ancient cultural physical punishment methods people used before. The law is also not friendly on people who injure children in the name of correcting a behavior. This has scared most parents to keep off from such brutal punishment imposed on children (Prue and Alister par. 10).

Impacts of corporal punishment practice

Various research studies conducted have revealed that corporal punishment is not a sure and effective form of discipline. This is because of the fact that children could easily develop fear on their parents. Such fear can easily weaken the child social participation. Additionally, it is also easy to erode the child to parent relationship due to fear (Elizabeth p. 18). In this case, the child would prefer staying away from the parents and be safe from punishment.

Corporal punishment may also teach the child to be more violent. This is seen when the child grow up knowing that violence must be linked with any loving relationship (Elizabeth p. 18). Such children end up being more violent than their parents. The child could also develop the notion that aggression is the only way to achieve a goal.

The other important reason is the fact that physical punishment can fully interfere with the parent message. This is because since the child is subjected to painful experience, the perception on the parent directives could disappear automatically (Elizabeth p. 18).


In summary, it is very clear from the discussion that the issue on corporal punishment is greatly contentious. The emergence of modern education is the key contributing factor to the decline of corporal punishment (Adam and Megan par. 1). Most learned parents have opted to use other alternative ways of disciplining children other than corporal punishment. This has contributed to the decline of corporal punishment today (Adam and Megan par. 1).

Works Cited

Adam, Zolotor and Megan E. Puzia. . 2010. Web.

Alison D. Renteln 2010, Corporal Punishment and The Cultural Defense. 2012. Web.

David, Benatar. . 2001. Web.

Elizabeth T. Gershoff 2008, Report on Physical Punishment in The United States: What Research Tells Us About Its Effects on Children. 2012. Web.

Michael, Donnelly and Murray A. Straus. “Corporal Punishment of Children in Theoretical Perspective.” Yale University Press. (2005): 3-7. New Haven. London. Web.

Prue, Holzer and Alister Lamount. “Corporal Punishment Key Issues.” National Child Protection Clearinghouse. 978.1 (2010). Australian Institute of Family Studies. Web.

This essay on Corporal punishment was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

certified writers online

Cite This paper

Select a citation style:


IvyPanda. (2020, May 6). Corporal punishment. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/corporal-punishment-2/

Work Cited

"Corporal punishment." IvyPanda, 6 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/corporal-punishment-2/.

1. IvyPanda. "Corporal punishment." May 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/corporal-punishment-2/.


IvyPanda. "Corporal punishment." May 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/corporal-punishment-2/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Corporal punishment." May 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/corporal-punishment-2/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Corporal punishment'. 6 May.

More related papers
Pss... Stuck with your
assignment? 😱
Pss... Stuck with your assignment? 😱
Do you need an essay to be done?
What type of assignment 📝 do you need?
How many pages (words) do you need? Let's see if we can help you!