Pediatric discourse on corporal punishment: A historical review

Academic Article


  • Corporal punishment is a commonly used, but controversial disciplinary technique. This article reviews the pediatric professional response to corporal punishment over the past century. We focus predominantly on the discourse written to educate pediatricians, for the most part, textbooks. Using the sociologic construction of deviance proposed by Conrad and Schneider, we show how corporal punishment has moved from a condoned behavior to a socially deviant behavior. Based on our review of this literature, we delineate three distinct pediatric professional attitudes toward corporal punishment over this century: (a) corporal punishment as morally sanctioned behavior, (b) corporal punishment as a tool for controlling behavior, and (c) corporal punishment as abusive. We show how each of these stances developed and demonstrate how these stances inform paradigms that are still operative today. By reviewing changes in pediatric thought toward corporal punishment, this article provides a useful framework for child health professionals struggling with the appropriateness of corporal punishment as a disciplinary technique.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Evans HH; Fargason CA
  • Start Page

  • 357
  • End Page

  • 368
  • Volume

  • 3
  • Issue

  • 4