Corporal punishment (abbreviation: cp or CP) is a form of punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of physical pain or discomfort. Most types of corporal punishment involve the methodical striking of the delinquent by a person in a position of authority. The words "corporal punishment" are derived from the Latin terms corpus ("body") and punire (akin to poena, which means "penalty" or "pain"), so "corporal punishment" can be taken to literally mean "punishment of the body" or "penalty (or pain) inflicted on the body".
Misunderstanding of the term
Geoffrey Gorer found in his 1955 study Exploring English Character that "the term 'corporal punishment' is quite consistently misunderstood to mean 'cruel or brutal punishments.' Numerous respondents write to the effect 'a naughty boy should be given a good caning but I don't approve of corporal punishment.' This misunderstanding was so consistent that I found it necessary to create a special category for it; at least one parent in six misuses the term."
Areas of corporal punishment
Corporal punishment is (or has been) used in many different areas of life:
- Judicial corporal punishment - punishment of convicted criminals for crimes
- Prison corporal punishment - punishment of prisoners for violating prison rules
- Military corporal punishment - punishment of soldiers in the military
- School corporal punishment - punishment of children in schools
- Corporal punishment in religious institutions - such as monasteries and nunneries
- Domestic corporal punishment - punishment of children by their parents or other caretakers. The most common form is hitting a child's buttocks with an open hand or implement, which is called spanking - see spanking of children. Domestic corporal punishment also includes the punishment of an adult in a domestic situation, most traditionally the spanking or beating of a wife by her husband (see also wife beating). The more modern form of this is known as domestic discipline.
- Corporal punishment in hunting
Corporal punishment in most cases involves beating/slapping/spanking/whipping the delinquent's body with one's hand or a suitable implement. However there are also other methods to stimulate a person's nociceptors, causing physical pain. Some of these are used by adults to punish children, some are used among children themselves (e.g. pulling hair, pinching, boxing), and others are more common in adult/adult BDSM play.
- ear pulling
- hair pulling
- murgha and other uncomfortable poses
- mouth soaping, bed without supper and other food punishments (no pain, but bad taste or hunger)
- scrubbing with a hard-bristled bath brush (as a punishment mostly in fiction)
- enema for punishment (mostly in fiction and BDSM)
- figging (mostly in fiction and BDSM)
- clothespins (BDSM)
- needles (BDSM)
- nipple clamps (BDSM)
- spiked gloves (BDSM)
- violet wand (BDSM)
- Wartenberg wheel (BDSM)
- wax play (BDSM)