Corporal punishment is a contentious and much debated issue within the community. This Resource Sheet provides a brief overview of research literature on the use of corporal punishment towards children and the legal landscape regarding corporal punishment as a means of disciplining children in Australia. We examine the distinction between corporal punishment and physical abuse, and the relationship between corporal punishment and discipline. Arguments for and against changes to the law in this area are also discussed.
What is corporal punishment? Corporal punishment is defined as the use of physical force towards a child for the purpose of control and/or correction, and as a disciplinary penalty inflicted on the body with the intention of causing some degree of pain or discomfort, however mild. Punishment of this nature is referred to in several ways, for example: hitting, smacking, spanking, and belting (Cashmore& de Haas, 1995). Although most forms of corporal punishment involve hitting children with a hand or an implement (such as a belt or wooden spoon), other forms of corporal punishment include: kicking, shaking, biting and forcing a child to stay in uncomfortable positions (United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2006). The desired outcome of physical punishment is child compliance with adult directives (Gawlik, Henning,& Warner, 2002; Smith, Gollop, Taylor,& Marshall, 2004). Corporal punishment is the use of physical force towards a child for the purpose of control, correction or discipline. Corpor
Nov 12th, 2013
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