Was Corporal Punishment Allowed at Hogwarts? - Harry Potter Explained

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Harry Potter Theory
Published at : 07 Jan 2021
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Hey everyone,

Welcome to another installment of Harry Potter Theory. In today’s video, I’m going to be discussing a bit of a controversial topic. It’s something that pertains to both the students AND professors of Hogwarts, and it’s definitely not something positive. I am of course talking about corporal punishment. If you don’t know already, corporal punishment is an old system of punishment that was actually surprisingly common in the school system- that is, until it was banned in 1986 (in the UK at least). Other countries went on to ban it at different points in time, and I think that it may actually still be allowed in some places.It’s also worth mentioning that corporal punishment also exists outside of the school system, however the school system will be the focal point of this video.

Corporal punishment involves inflicting physical pain upon someone- and in a school setting it would be administered when students failed to pay attention, or gave professors flak. Though not restricted to these methods, common methods of inflicting pain would involve spanking or paddling- both of which are completely unacceptable.

Interestingly enough, however, we do actually see instances of corporal punishment in the Harry Potter story. Most notably- this style of punishment is exercised by Severus Snape, who would routinely smack students that were taking the mickey or failing to listen to his instructions. But- I wonder, was Snape actually ALLOWED to do this? Surely the magical school of Hogwarts doesn’t condone this sort of behaviour? Right? Let’s dive in a bit further.

The truth is, the regulations involving corporal punishment at Hogwarts seemed to be at the discretion of whoever was headmaster.

For example- there is evidence in the text to support that Dumbledore was against it:

“Professor Umbridge seized Marietta, pulled her round to face her and began shaking her very hard. A split second later Dumbledore was on his feet, his wand raised; Kingsley started forwards and Umbridge leapt back from Marietta, waving her hands in the air as though they had been burned.”

"I cannot allow you to manhandle my students, Dolores," said Dumbledore

There is also evidence in the Goblet of Fire to support that McGonagall was against it as well:

"Teach ...­ Moody, is that a student?" shrieked Professor McGonagall, the books spilling out of her arms.

"Yep," said Moody.

"No!" cried Professor McGonagall, running down the stairs and pulling out her wand; a moment later, with a loud snapping noise, Draco Malfoy had reappeared, lying in a heap on the floor with his sleek blond hair all over his now brilliantly pink face. He got to his feet, wincing.

"Moody, we never use Transfiguration as a punishment!" said Professor McGonagall weakly. "Surely Professor Dumbledore told you that?"

"He might've mentioned it, yeah," said Moody, scratching his chin unconcernedly, "but I thought a good sharp shock ...­"

Umbridge on the other hand was ALL for it- as clearly shown in the ‘I will not tell lies’ segment from Order of the Phoenix. She also planned to introduce a few educational decrees that would allow hitting students, much to the delight of filch:

“I've been telling Dumbledore for years and years he's too soft with you all,' said Filch, chuckling nastily. 'You filthy little beasts would never have dropped Stink Pellets if you'd “known I had it in my power to whip you raw, would you, now? Nobody would have thought of throwing Fanged Frisbees down the corridors if I could've strung you up by the ankles in my office, would they? But when Educational Decree Number Twenty-nine comes in, Potter I'll be allowed to do them things…'”

This quote also gives us an important bit of information - educational decree twenty nine. So, what does educational decree twenty nine actually state?

...Watch the video for the rest!

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