Spanking is the act of striking the buttocks of another person to cause temporary pain without producing physical injury. It generally involves one person striking the buttocks of another person with an open hand. When an open hand is used, spanking is referred to in some countries as slapping or smacking. More severe forms of spanking, such as switching, paddling, belting, caning, whipping, and birching, involve the use of an implement instead of a hand.
Spanking is regarded as abusive in some cultures, but as an acceptable form of discipline in others.
In North America, the word "spanking" has often been used as a synonym for an official paddling in school, and sometimes even as a euphemism for the formal corporal punishment of adults in an institution.
In British English, most dictionaries define "spanking" as being given only with the open hand. In American English, dictionaries define spanking as being administered with either the open hand or an implement such as a paddle. Thus, the standard form of corporal punishment in US schools (licks with a paddle) is often referred to as a spanking, whereas its pre-1997 English equivalent (strokes of the cane) would never have been so described.
In the home
In many cultures, parents have historically been regarded as having the duty of disciplining their children, and the right to spank them when appropriate; however, attitudes in many countries changed in the 1950s and 60s following the publication by pediatrician Dr Spock of Baby and Child Care in 1946, which advised parents to treat children as individuals, whereas the previous conventional wisdom had been that child rearing should focus on building discipline, and that, e.g., babies should not be "spoiled" by picking them up when they cried. The change in attitude was followed by legislation. Since 1979, 30 countries around the world (at 2011) have outlawed domestic corporal punishment of children. In Europe, 22 countries have banned the practice. And in many other places the practice is considered controversial.
Studies have consistently found that:
- Boys are spanked more than girls;
- Mothers spank more than fathers;
- Toddlers and preschoolers are spanked most often;
- Parents from lower income groups spank more often.
- Parents who have more education are less likely to spank;
- Religious conservatives are more favorable towards spanking;
- Some groups, based on cultural and/or ethnic background are more likely to spank their children.
Corporal punishment, usually delivered with an implement (such as a paddle or cane) rather than with the open hand, used to be a common form of school discipline in many countries, but it is now banned in most of the western world, including all of Europe, and in Japan, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa. These bans have been controversial, and in many cultures opinion remains sharply divided as to the efficacy or suitability of spanking as a punishment for misbehaviour by school students.
In some cultures, the spanking of women, by the male head of the family or by the husband (sometimes called domestic discipline) has been and sometimes continues to be a common and approved custom. In those cultures and in those times it was the belief that the husband, as head of the family, had a right and even the duty to discipline his wife and children when he saw fit, and manuals were available to instruct the husband how to discipline his household. In most western countries, this practice has come to be regarded as socially unacceptable wife-beating, domestic violence or abuse. Routine corporal punishment of women by their husbands, however, does still exist in some parts of the developing world, and still occurs in isolated cases in western countries.
However, there is no evidence of spanking of men by a woman in a domestic context. This may be due to the relative physical strengths of the two genders and the traditionally accepted role of the husband as the head of the family unit.
Today, spanking of an adult tends to be confined to erotic spanking between people engaging in other intimate activities, such as foreplay or sexual roleplay.
Erotic spanking (also known as spankophilia) is the act of spanking another person for the sexual arousal or gratification of either or both parties. Activities range from a spontaneous smack on bare buttocks during a sexual activity, to occasional sexual roleplay (such as ageplay) to domestic discipline and may involve the use of a hand or the use of a variety of spanking implements, such as a spanking paddle or cane. Erotic spanking may be administered to bare buttocks or normally dressed. Spanking can involve the use of bondage.
Erotic spankings are commonly combined with other forms of sexual foreplay, such as oral sex, sexual roleplaying and/or ageplay. The most common type of erotic spanking is administered on the bare buttocks, but can also be combined with bondage, in order to heighten sexual arousal and feelings of helplessness.
Many cultures describe pain as an aphrodisiac. For example, the Kama Sutra, in particular, goes into specific detail on how to properly strike a partner during sex.