corporal punishment

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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 beating are still used unofficially, ostensibly to maintain order, often for retribution. 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. Opponents of corporal punishment in education note that under some states' laws the actions that may be used on children in schools would be crimes if used on an adult.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Corporal Punishment


a special kind of criminal punishment, which had arisen even in antiquity and which has persisted in several countries into the mid-20th century. Corporal punishment consisted in the public infliction of physical torment on the offender—for example, by beating with sticks (rods, switches) or with a knout or whip, by the amputation of extremities, the excision of the tongue, the tearing of the nostrils, and branding. It was widely used to compel the payment of tax arrears (in ancient Egypt) and debts (Russian pravezh, or the exaction by force of a debt or damages); it was universally used as a means to deal with slaves and to punish offending serfs.

In Western Europe, various forms of corporal punishment were established in law from the 13th century. Corporal punishment figured prominently in, among others, the “bloody legislation against the dispossessed,” the Carolina, and measures taken against heretics.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
We tried to analyze (a) the effects of corporal punishment on the children resulting in the negativity and aggression in the behavior of the child (b) the consoling effects of psychological treatment to nurse the ailing psychology of the child with positive responses.
The main objective of this assignment is to offer alternative to avoid corporal punishment to achieve desired results and to provide feasible environment for learning process.
He had also criticised the Centre for banning corporal punishment in primary schools.
The Court's decision stemmed from an appeal by the Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law, which wanted corporal punishment of children to be outlawed.
In 2009, the court had framed proper guidelines where it was observed that the students need to be counselled instead of handing out corporal punishment.
The court had also asked the state to carry out publicity campaigns against corporal punishment in schools.
Parental corporal punishment has been surprisingly ignored in legal scholarship and policy reform.
None of the rationales for this ongoing status exculpation are sufficient in light of the social science literature on corporal punishment's extensive harms.
Much as it has effected change in the realm of noncriminal corporal punishment, the democratic process likely would yield changes in the law of criminal punishments similar to those brought by the courts' doctrine of evolving standards of decency, but at a pace more consistent with the actual evolution of public standards of decency.
(76) Thus, corporal punishment is permitted under the Eighth Amendment, and state legislatures are solely responsible for determining the legality of corporal punishment.
One reason is its long tradition--the corporal punishment of children has occurred throughout the entirety of recorded history.
As a result of this long history, corporal punishment has a strong intergenerational tradition in the United States.