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Corporal Punishment

  • By: Theresa A. Erbacher & Irwin A. Hyman
  • In: Encyclopedia of School Psychology
  • Edited by: Steven W. Lee
  • Subject:School/Educational Psychology (general), School Psychology, Educational Psychology

Historically, corporal punishment (CP) has been defined as the infliction of pain, loss, or confinement of the human body—as distinguished from financial consequence—as a penalty for some offense. In the past, it was a common civil penalty used on citizens, slaves, sailors, and school children. Parental spanking, in contemporary times, is defined as the use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain but not injury, for purposes of correction or control of the child's behavior (Straus, 1994).

In contemporary educational settings, CP is generally synonymous with paddling for breaking a school rule. However, because of case law, the definition has expanded to include any punishment that includes the infliction of pain that results in unreasonable discomfort (Hyman, 1997). CP includes ...

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