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Georgia Regents Universi
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Corporal Punishment

February 19, 2021
Literature Review: Corporal Punishment
Kamela Perry
28 November 2012
According to Donald Greydanus, Professor of Pediatrics and Human Development at
Michigan State University (2010), corporal punishment refers to the intentional application of
physical pain as a method of behavior change. Corporal punishment includes various methods
of pain infliction not limited to but including hitting, slapping, spanking, punching, kicking,
pinching, shaking, shoving, choking, use of various objects (wooden paddles, belts, sticks, pins,
etc.), painful body postures (such as placing in closed spaces), use of electric shock, use of
excessive exercise drills, or prevention of urine or stool elimination. Many children have
experienced some type of corporal punishment by the time they reach adolescence.
The prevalence of corporal punishment in schools within the United States remains high
although many states and schools districts have condemned its practice. The United States
remains one of the few industrialized countries allowing corporal punishment in 30 states.
According to the Office of Civil Rights, school officials, as well as teachers, administered
corporal punishment to approximately 223,190 across the country during the 2006-2007 school
year alone. Experts note that the number of cases in regards to corporal punishment is about 1.5
million. The actual number was calculated to be at least 2-3 million. The punishment inflicted
resulted in 10,000-20,000 students requesting subsequent medical treatment. The top ten states in
the country to administer corporal punishment are Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma,
Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Missouri, and Florida. According to research, physical
punishment is more common in kindergarten through eighth grade than in high school, in rural
schools than in urban, in boys than in girls, and in disadvantaged as well as non Caucasian than
in middle class and upper class Caucasians (Greydanus, 2010).
The rationale behind choosing the issue of corporal punishment as a topic for research, is
the fact that evidence and a review of science in this area have concluded that corporal
punishment is an ineffective method of discipline. This review of literature will explain how
corporal punishment should not be considered in regards to classroom management and how it
can have deleterious effects on the physical and mental health of those on whom it is inflicted
(Greydanus, 2010). There is no evidence that physical punishment results in an increased level of
control in the classroom. It has never been proven to enhance the moral character of a student. It
has never been proven to increase a student’s level of respect for teachers or other authority
figures. Nor has it been proven to offer greater security for teachers or school personnel. Instead,
students who are subjected to corporal punishment at school are being abused emotionally,
physically, socially, and mentally. No data is available that states that students who were
subjected to corporal punishment developed enhanced social or self-control skills.
Instead, research shows that the victims of corporal punishment, in some cases, have
become more rebellious. Victims are said to have difficulty sleeping, fatigue, depression, suicidal
thoughts, anxiety, feelings of resentment, increased anger, and lowered school achievement.
This research will also provide evidence that shows that corporal punishment constructs an
environment of education that is nonproductive, nullifying and punitive. Practices such as
corporal punishment harm children by teaching them that violence is acceptable against those
who are weak, defenseless, and subordinate. Violence is unacceptable and it must not be
supported by sanctioning its use in education by educational authority figures (Greydanus, 2010).
In April, 2010 the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch released a
statement in regards to corporal punishment in schools and its effect on academic success. The
statement emphasized the fact that harsh physical punishment does not improve a student’s
school behavior or academic performance. It found that schools in states that implement the use
of corporal punishment perform worse than those in states that do not allow corporal
punishment. Children who have been subjected to paddling or hitting have reported subsequent p
problems with depression, fear, and anger. As a result, these students frequently withdraw from
school activities and become academically disengaged. The society for Adolescent Medicine has
found that victims or harsh physical treatment in the academic setting often develop deteriorating
peer relationships, difficulty with concentration, lowered school achievement , antisocial
behavior, intense dislike of authority, as well as other evidence of negative high risk adolescent
behavior. This in turn has negative effects on classroom management, making these students
more difficult to manage in the academic setting as a result of their dwindling positive attitudes
toward school (Corporal punishment in schools, 2003).
Some may argue that disciplining children physically is in their best interests. However
this confuses discipline with punishment and respect with fear. Discipline and punishment are
not the same. True discipline is not based on force. True discipline grows from a foundation of
understanding and mutual respect. /corporal punishment does not model or provide students with
instruction on positive and acceptable behavior. It teaches them that adults find it acceptable to
use violence as a solution to problems in the classroom. The Committee on the Rights of the
Child states that while corporal punishment is rejected discipline is recognized as fundamentally
important in a healthy childhood (Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities, 2010).
There are times in which corporal punishment may be warranted. Teachers may need to
use corporal punishment in the classroom when dealing with dangerous situations. In cases such

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