Switch (corporal punishment)
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A switch is a flexible rod, typically used for corporal punishment of the birching type, called switching after it, especially when using a single branch: multiple branches are rather called a rod, a less flexible single rod is rather called a cane, an inflexible one a stick; a paddle is broader but hard and flattened.
Switches are most efficient (i.e., painful and durable) if made of a strong but flexible type of wood, such as hazel (also use for a very severe birch) or hickory; as the use of their names for disciplinary implements, without specification, and as verbs for lashing, indicates, birch and willow branches are time-honoured favorites, but branches from most strong trees and large shrubs can be used, often simply nearby from a garden, an orchard or the wild. In the southeastern United States, fresh-cut, flexible cane (Arundinaria) is commonly used. The usage of switches has been hotly contested in North America and Europe.
Making a switch involves cutting it from the stem and removing twigs or directly attached leaves as those would lessen its sting (hence deliberately left on for sauna use). For optimal flexibility it is cut fresh shortly before use, rather than keeping it for re-use over considerable time. Some parents decide to make the cutting of a switch an additional form of punishment for a child by requiring the disobedient child to cut his/her own switch.
The practice of switching is banned in the United States School System in 29 states and no longer occurs in public settings. In 21 states including Mississippi and Texas, corporal punishment is still practiced in schools and is called licks or paddlings. Many adults from rural areas still vividly recall being switched as children.
Parents in the United States (where the wider paddle is the most common spanking implement) are reputed to threaten disobedient children with gifts of utilitarian coal and switches for Christmas should they not reform their behavior, although the actual practice of this is rare to the vanishing point, especially as most people live in urban areas where less suitable wood is easily at hand for the old-fashioned woodshed treatment and most modern educators consider such severe physical discipline cruel and it is often banned by law as child abuse.
- The tamarind switch (in Creole English tambran switch) is a judicial birch-like instrument for corporal punishment made from three tamarind rods, braided and oiled, used long after independence in the Caribbean Commonwealth island states of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.
- The Gilbertese tribal community at Wagina in Choiseul province (Solomon Islands) reintroduced by referendum in 2005 traditional "whipping" with coconut tree branches for various offences - the national justice system opposes this.
- In the season two episode, "The Ghost of General Lee" of The Dukes of Hazzard, when Jesse Duke thinks his nephews Bo and Luke Duke faked their deaths, he yells at them "After all you've put me through, I oughtta take the switch to both of you!".
- In the movie The Harder They Come, the lead character, after assaulting another character is punished by "8 strokes of the tamarind switch."
- In the season one episode, "Basic Genealogy" of Community, Troy's grandmother asks for a switch several times to beat Britta and Troy with.
- In Spring Awakening, Wendla asks Melchior to hit her with a switch as a way to sympathize for Martha, who is abused by her father.
- In the Don Bluth short Banjo the Woodpile Cat, Banjo was asked by his father to retrieve a switch.
- In Richard Pryor: Live in Concert, Pryor describes how his grandmother would discipline him by making him go and retrieve a switch with which she would then beat him.
- Corporal punishment in the home
- Judicial corporal punishment
- School corporal punishment
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