For more than two decades, Georgia State University professors Phillip Davis has studied corporal punishment as a form of discipline in the home. Today, you can find him in his office atop a downtown Atlanta high-rise, nestled in a mountain of books, research papers and students’ work that seems nearly as tall as the building. Through his largely survey- and interview- based research, Davis has taken a variety of approaches to assessing the dynamic of spanking, slapping, whipping and other forms of corporal punishment within American households. “Nine out of 10 people have done it, and nine out of 10 adults got it when they were kids in one way or another,” Davis said. “ Most who use it grew up with it, so it’s all very normal — as in ancient history.”
And, in fact, corporal punishment is a practice that dates back to ancient history in varying forms, but the ancient practice has been coming under some very modern scrutiny.