Corporal punishment is the practice of deliberately inflicting physical pain as a form of punishment. The most minor version is generally children getting a swat on the backside from their parents, while the opposite extreme can lead all the way to Cold-Blooded Torture
. Note that it only
counts as corporal punishment if it's legitimately inflicted — Police Brutality
and the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique
are illegal, and thus don't qualify. A Dope Slap
from one friend to another might count as an "informal" version, though, if you consider one's peers to be a legitimate authority.
Somewhat common in fiction that takes place before 1960 or so (roughly), when this sort of thing started to be frowned on in most places. Before that it was accepted, even encouraged, as a form of discipline.
Depending on the situation, corporal punishment can be played for comedy, horror, drama, or titillation. Most likely to be seen in military or school settings. They may be meted out by a Stern Nun
This does not
mean a punishment issued by or to a low ranking NCO, though this can overlap with the actual meaning in a military setting.
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- Gundam is extremely fond of having people beat on their subordinates. Sometimes it's to knock some sense into them, but just as often it's just punishment for misdeeds. It gave birth to the "Bright Slap" meme.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann uses it at least once: Adiane beats up on an already injured Viral (with her scorpion tail) for his failure against the heroes.
- In Saiyuki Gaiden, Kenren is given a punishment that pretty much comes down to locking him in a cell and anyone who wants to can come and have a go at him. It doesn't help that he has pissed a lot of people off.
- Happens more than once in Sport anime and manga, specially in older series:
- Coach Daimon's Sadist Teacher's antics in Attacker You!. He behaves violently toward his players when they make mistakes or fail to live up to his expectations; after one match early in the series, he slaps every girl on the team across the face (including the captain and local Alpha Bitch, Nami) for allowing the opposing team to score one point. Even more, this was an anime only trait; in the anime, Daimon was quite more reasonable.
- In Captain Tsubasa, Coach Kira's Training from Hell includes hitting Hyuga on the back with a stick to keep him from collapsing, and Coach Mikami once slaps Genzou to the ground for throwing a tantrum and trying to leave the Shutetsu team when Tsubasa, playing for Nankatsu, scores against him. Also, in the Shin manga Pierre slaps Napoleon in public for bragging about how he caused Souda to be expelled.
- In The Prince of Tennis, while Tezuka prefers to punish unruly members via assigning laps (or other forced physical effort methods, in the case of Oishi punishing Momo and Kaidoh when they were first years), Sanada from Rikkaidai resorts to slapping his teamates around. So far he has slapped Jackal, Marui, and Kirihara for different transgressions. Subverted three times later: Kirihara keeps Sanada from slapping Yanagi via blocking the blow with his racket and vowing to win, Sanada actually asks his teammates to slap him for losing his own match, and in Shin Tenipuri Sanada tells Akutsu to slap him and gets punched to the floor instead.
- In the manga, Kirihara hangs a lampshade on Renji's seemingly always-closed eyes. This seems to be a pretty sore spot for Renji, who slaps him for being a Bratty Half-Pint.
- In the anime, Ryoma gets a slap to the face from Tezuka for being arrogant and rude during the Senbatsu arc. In the same arc, Kevin Smith gets slapped by his coach for talking back to him.
- In his backstory, Tezuka once was beaten by one of his sempai for talking back to him in public. He was actually hit in the elbow with a racket, which causes him a serious Game-Breaking Injury. When then-captain Yamato learned what happened, he made both Tezuka and the offending senior run laps for disrupting the practice.
- In Slam Dunk, Captain Akagi sometimes hits Sakuragi (and very occasionally, Miyagi or Rukawa) when fed up with his/their childish antics. It's almost always Played for Laughs, save for the time he slapped pre-Heel-Face Turn!Mitsui for trying to get the team disqualified. Right before the last one, when Kogure tries to talk the team's way out of Mitsui's attacks, Mitsui tells him to get the fuck out and slaps him across the face, but Kogure refuses to do it.
- Akito Sohma from Fruits Basket often becomes physically violent towards other Sohmas, on top of being a Manipulative Bastard with uncontrollable Unstoppable Rages. The actual corporal punishment is played up much more in the anime, though - in the manga, although there's more damage inflicted, the "punishments" tend to be more psychological, with the worst physical beatings (like in Hatori, Isuzu and Kureno's cases) happening when Akito is at breaking point.
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has the infamous "fingernail ripping" that is a standard punishment in the Sonozaki family. Four members have gone through it: Shion, as a condition to be forgiven by the clan; her twin sister Mion, outta her own will after Shion goes through it; the twins' mother Akane, while facing a Parental Marriage Veto; and in the past, Evil Granny Oryuu aka the one who instigated all the former incidents, for unknown reasons.
- It's mentioned in the prequel Light Novel to Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de aru that, while in the past teachers physically harming students to any degree was an issue, corporal punishment is allowed as long as it's not excessive. When Gin gets late to school her teacher taps her on the head with the attendance sheet.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: In Act V chapter 20, Kokoa mentions that Issa still spanks her, much to Gin's surprise. Later, in Act VI chapter 49, it's heavily implied that Issa spanked Akua and Kahlua to punish them for failing to stop Talon; we're not shown the actual act, but the two are left holding their butts in pain and whimpering apologies.
- Full Metal Jacket has Gunnery Sgt. Hartman generally abusing his Marine recruits during the first part of the movie, with the worst of it being the "blanket party" held for Private Gomer Pyle by his fellow recruits which ultimately leads to a psychotic breakdown, the murder of Hartman and his own suicide.
- In Barry Lyndon, Barry participates in a gauntlet
- Starship Troopers has Johnny Rico getting A Taste of the Lash as "Administrative Punishment" for his carelessness resulting in the death of a fellow recruit. Fleet Sergeant Zim gives him a rolled up wad of leather to bite down on, telling him that it will help him cope with the pain.
- Dead Poets Society features corporal punishment as a means of disciplining at least one student.
- If... has a lengthy scene in which Mick (Malcolm McDowell) and his friends are caned by the prefects. Afterwards they have to shake the prefect by the hand and thank him — a common tradition in public schools, apparently.
- In Punch, Dong-ju is a Stern Teacher who cares about his students and wants to motivate them, but he also doesn't hesitate to bust out the cane when they misbehave.
- Starship Troopers uses A Taste of the Lash as actual judicial punishment assigned by a court martial, and also discusses the fact that any corporal punishment (from a Dope Slap to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to summary execution) is legal as long as the punisher can demonstrate that it was necessary and reasonable.
- Corporal punishment also exists in the civilian justice system in the novel. Minor crimes, such as drunk driving, are usually punished with the accused being publicly lashed behind the courthouse immediately after being found guilty. Major crimes such as kidnapping or murder are punishable by immediate execution (usually by hanging). It's also mentioned that teachers and headmasters at schools have the authority to use corporal punishment on students who break school rules.
- Heinlein advocated corporal punishment in his books generally. Nothing excessive, mind you (from his perspective), just a little paddling now and then to set a child straight. Or a woman. Men might need to be caned. If you didn't just hang them. But never put someone in prison; that insults human dignity.
- Harry Potter features it more than once.
- In the early books, Argus Filch is constantly petitioning for permission to string troublemakers up with chains and other similarly pleasant things. It's mostly played for laughs.
- Umbridge uses this when she is named Headmaster in Order of the Phoenix. Particularly nasty is the "blood quill", which carves whatever the user writes into their hand as they write it.
- It's implied to get rather worse at Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows, where Neville is basically covered in scars from the school year. And the Death Eater supervisors would use the Cruciatus Curse on the students, pretty harsh considering the punishment for using the curse used to be life in prison.
- Aunt Marge is also a big fan. She doesn't get to use it, however.
- Matilda has the headmistress employ corporal punishment at any chance she can get. She even once spun a girl around and threw her by her pigtails, a la the hammer throw.
- Rudyard Kipling seems to be an advocate. In The Jungle Book, both Baloo and Bagheera occasionally smack the young Mowgli for disobedience (and almost getting them killed), while in Just So Stories this is seen as the cure for the Elephant's Child's 'satiable curiosity. Different era and all that.
- Not directly featured in the book Cryer's Cross, but excessive whipping at a (defunct at the time the book takes place) school is the entire reason people are disappearing. It created the ghosts entombed in the desk, which are getting into the heads of the kids who sit there and making them bury themselves alive at the site of the school.
- In The Wheel of Time series, this is known as Mortification of the Flesh, and is a possible penance for initiates of the White Tower, although hard labour is far more common. Since honour is a big deal in the setting, it is considered preferable to Mortification of the Spirit, i.e. public humiliation.
- Used by the Mijaki church in the Godspeaker Trilogy, particularly in the first book Empress, to punish both themselves and the warlord and his family.
- Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games is shocked by the enforcement of corporal punishment in District 12 during the second book, Catching Fire. According to Rue, from the farming and food production District, however, it is used regularly, particularly for those eating produce earmarked to be sent to the Capitol.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky details the Russian judicial system in his prison memoirs, Notes from the House of the Dead. It terrifies the convicts, in a penal colony in Siberia, witless: they will commit additional misdemeanours just so there has to be a new investigation in order to stave off the carrying out of the sentence. Doctors are present when the prisoner is being whipped or beaten; they stop the beatings when they believe it will kill someone, taking him away to be healed so the rest of the sentence can be carried out later. One man, Orlov, is brought to the hospital half-way through a sentence and nursed back to health by his fellow prisoners. There does seem to be a distinction made between official punishment and the whippings resulting from breaking the rules of the prison camp. Corporal punishment was a feature of peasant justice in Russia up until the early years of the twentieth century, justified by claiming the peasants were closer to earth than townspeople and therefore better punished in a simpler and more direct manner and for different crimes (for example, drunkenness).
- Happens to Arya Stark at least twice, in A Clash of Kings of A Song of Ice and Fire fame.
- The first one is a punishment from Yorren for beating the crud out of two boys twice her age. The second one is the punishment by her sadistic overseer in Harrenhall for forgetting his orders.
- Happens to her sister Sansa in the same book, when a knight of the King's Guard, supposedly one of the best knights in the realm, beats her with the flat side of his sword on King Joffrey's orders. The knight also punches her in the stomach (while wearing his metal gauntlet). This is a particularly severe case of Corporal Punishment, and had it gone on for longer, (and it might well have had they not been interrupted) it might even count as a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Also notable is that Sansa had done absolutely nothing to deserve the punishment, and she is only being beaten because Joffrey is angry and wants someone to take it out on (and because he enjoys it.)
- How the children learn to speak properly in The Giver. A story was told about how Asher, as a three, asked for a "smack" instead of a "snack" when he was hungry and was hit so often with the stick that his legs had marks and he went silent for a time. The Chief Elder remembered this fondly.
- The threat of "the kane" is a regular feature of the molesworth stories — unsurprisingly given their comedy Boarding School of Horrors subject-matter.
- In the Schooled In Magic series, students are punished in various ways including caning and magical transformation (which can be worse than a caning).
Live Action TV
- In an episode of King of the Hill, Peggy gets her unruly class in order by spanking them, but gets in trouble with the school.
- Corporal punishment in form of caning (a number of lashes of ½" rattan stick delivered by a martial arts specialist) is a feature in both Malaysian and Singaporean Criminal Code. Depending on the number of the lashes, the caning may permanently maim the convict.