Domestic spanking is a common form of corporal punishment in the home. This includes the corporal punishment of children by parents; see corporal punishment of children and spanking of children. It also includes the spanking of adults in the home, such as in domestic discipline (disciplinary spanking by agreement in adult relationships).
Social acceptance of corporal punishment is high in countries where it remains lawful, particularly among more traditional groups. In many cultures, parents have historically been regarded as having the right, if not the duty, to physically punish misbehaving children in order to teach appropriate conduct. Researchers, on the other hand, point out that corporal punishment typically has the opposite effect, leading to more aggressive behavior in children and less long-term obedience. Other adverse effects, such as depression, anxiety, anti-social behavior, and increased risk of physical abuse, have also been linked to the use of corporal punishment by parents. Evidence shows that spanking and other physical punishments, while nominally for the purpose of discipline, are inconsistently applied, often being used when parents are angry or under stress. Severe forms of corporal punishment, including kicking, biting, scalding, and burning, can also constitute unlawful child abuse.
International human-rights and treaty bodies such as the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Council of Europe, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have advocated an end to all forms of corporal punishment, arguing that it violates children's dignity and right to physical integrity. Many existing laws against battery, assault, and/or child abuse make exceptions for "reasonable" physical punishment by parents, a defence rooted in common law and specifically English law. During the late 20th and into the 21st century, some countries began removing legal defences for adult guardians' use of corporal punishment, followed by outright bans on the practice. Most of these bans are part of civil law and therefore do not impose criminal penalties unless a charge of assault and/or battery is justified. Since Sweden's 1979 ban on all corporal punishment of children, an increasing number of countries have enacted similar bans, particularly following international adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, domestic corporal punishment of children remains legal in most of the world.
Comparison to other forms of corporal punishment
Domestic spanking comes with connotations of intimacy and parental or spousal care and can be contrasted with spanking in places outside the home, such as:
- School corporal punishment - punishment of children in schools
- Judicial corporal punishment - punishment of convicted criminals
- Prison corporal punishment - punishment of prisoners (usually for violating prison rules)
- Military corporal punishment - punishment of soldiers in the military
- Corporal punishment in religious institutions - such as monasteries and nunneries.