Campaigns against corporal punishment

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Campaigns against corporal punishment have been seen in a number of different countries at different times, and they have met with varying degrees of success.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, one of the earliest organised campaigns was that of the Humanitarian League, with its regular magazine The Humanitarian, which campaigned for several years for the abolition of the chastisement of young seamen in the Royal Navy, a goal partially achieved in 1906 when naval birching was abandoned as a summary punishment.[1] However, it did not manage to get the Navy to abolish caning as a punishment, which continued at Naval training establishments until 1967.[2]

The Howard League for Penal Reform campaigned in the 1930s for, among many other things, the abolition of judicial corporal punishment by cat-o'-nine-tails or birching.[3] This was eventually achieved in the U.K. in 1948.[4]

The Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment (STOPP) was set up in the U.K. in 1968 to campaign for the abolition of corporal punishment in UK schools.[5]

STOPP was a very small pressure group that lobbied government, local authorities and other official institutions. It also investigated individual cases of corporal punishment and aided families wishing to pursue their cases through the UK and European courts.[6]

The UK Parliament abolished corporal punishment in state schools in 1986; there is no way of knowing how much part STOPP's campaigning played in this.[7] STOPP then wound itself up and ceased to exist, though some of the same individuals went on to form EPOCH to campaign to outlaw spanking, and spanking in the domestic setting.

United States[edit]

An early U.S. activist against corporal punishment was Horace Mann, who in the 19th century unsuccessfully opposed its use in schools.[8]

In the United States there are currently several different organizations advocating the abolition of paddling in schools, including:

  • The Center for Effective Discipline, based in Ohio
  • Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE), based in California[8]
  • People Opposed to Paddling Students (POPS), based in Texas
  • The National Youth Rights Association
  • Floridians Against Corporal Punishment in Public School, based in Florida


  Countries that have explicitly abolished all forms of corporal punishment of children.

An organisation called "Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment Of Children" (GITEACPOC) was set up in 2001 to campaign for the worldwide prohibition by law of all corporal punishment of children, whether by parents or schools. It seeks to monitor the legal situation in every country of the world.[9]

In 2008, the UN Study on Violence against Children set a target date of 2009 for universal prohibition, including in the home,[10] an aim described by The Economist the same year as "wildly unrealistic".[11]

Notable people who are anti-spanking, and known anti-spanking advocates[edit]

The following are either noted personalities who are anti-spanking, or individuals who are significantly involved within the anti-spanking movement.

  • Sue Bradford (b. 1952) introduced[12] the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill 2005 banning parental spanking in New Zealand
  • Jordan Riak (b. 1935)[13] - Executive director of PTAVE - drafted the bill which banned school paddling in California in 1986.
  • Alice Miller (1923-2010) - psychologist noted for her books on child abuse - believed that corporal punishment is a form of child abuse, and campaigned against it in her books.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gibson, Ian. The English Vice, Duckworth, London, 1978, pp.171-176. ISBN 0-7156-1264-6
  2. ^ Roxan, David. "Storm over canings for Navy boys", News of the World, London, 23 April 1967.
  3. ^ Benson, G. Flogging: The Law and Practice in England, Howard League for Penal Reform, London, 1937. OCLC 5780230
  4. ^ "Power to order flogging: Abolition approved in Committee", The Times, London, 12 December 1947.
  5. ^ Jessel, Stephen. "The high cost of cutting out the cane". The Times, London, 28 September 1972.
  6. ^ Hodges, Lucy. "Caned schoolgirl awarded £1,200". The Times, London, 27 February 1982.
  7. ^ Gould, Mark. "Sparing the rod". The Guardian, London, 9 January 2007.
  8. ^ a b PTAVE website.
  9. ^ GITEACPOC website.
  10. ^ "The United Nations Study on Violence against Children". Office of the United Nations High Commisssionar for Human Rights. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  11. ^ "Spare the rod, say some". The Economist (London). 29 May 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  12. ^ Sue Bradford. "Child Discipline Bill". Hansard (Volume:627;Page:22086). Parliament of New Zealand. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  13. ^ Jordan Riak (7 January 2008). "Jordan Riak - background". Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVA). Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  14. ^ Child Mistreatment, Child Abuse

External links: Anti-spanking websites[edit]