Switch (corporal punishment)

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A switch is a flexible rod which is typically used for corporal punishment. Switching is similar to birching.

Punitive switching[edit]

Switches are typically made of strong and flexible wood such as hazel, birch, or hickory. Willow branches are also used, as well as branches from strong trees and large shrubs. Switches are often from a garden or an orchard nearby, or taken from 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.[1]

Making a switch involves cutting it from the stem and removing twigs or directly attached leaves.[citation needed] For optimal flexibility, it is cut fresh shortly before use, rather than keeping it for re-use over time.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

  • 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 and Tobago.[2]
  • 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.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gould, Mark (January 9, 2007). "Sparing the Rod". The Guardian. London. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  2. ^ Parker, Quincy (March 7, 2007). "Human Rights Abuse Concerns". The Bahama Journal. Nassau. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  3. ^ "Floggings cut crime: village leader". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. March 9, 2006. Retrieved February 5, 2009.

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