International Save the Children Alliance
Position on corporal punishment
Corporal or physical punishment is the use of
physical force intended to cause some degree of
pain or discomfort for discipline, correction, and
control, changing behaviour or in the belief of
educating/bringing up the child.
Physical pain can be caused by different means
such as hitting the child with a hand or other
object, kicking, shaking or throwing the child,
pinching or pulling the hair, caning or whipping.
The link between corporal punishment
and psychological punishment
Corporal/physical punishment can be also
psychologically damaging (e.g. causing low
self esteem, sadness, shame, depression, etc.).
Psychological violence, including humiliating
or degrading treatment and threats, can be
equally or more harmful to the child.
Scale of the problem
Accurate data on prevalence of corporal
punishment against children is difficult to obtain.
Parents and teachers are likely to under-report,
and it is not possible to get information from
very young children and babies. Both statistical
and anecdotal evidence1 show that corporal
punishment is practised in almost every society
and that across the world millions of children
are being physically and emotionally punished
by those who are charged with their care. It is
inflicted on children at home, in schools, in
medical and care institutions, in detention, in
their work places and the streets.
Eleven countries so far have banned all forms
of corporal punishment of children. Although
corporal punishment has been abolished in
schools in several countries, monitoring and
enforcement of the law is too often ineffective.
In many states corporal punishment is seen as
an essential tool for school discipline.
Common justifications for using corporal
punishment are found across different cultures
and contexts. Main arguments invoked in favour
of corporal punishment are: children need such
discipline to learn right from wron