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Strapping refers to the use of a strap as an implement of corporal punishment. It is typically a broad and heavy strip of leather, often with a hard handle, the more flexible 'blade' being applied to the offender.

Probably because of the stiffness, the word "strap" is sometimes used interchangeably with a leather paddle. Other terms that are sometimes used interchangeably include whipping, lashing, and confusingly even in some official language, belting -- in principle a belt is lighter, without a handle. These terms are strictly speaking reserved for other implements.

Instead of a specially-made disciplinary strap one can also, especially in a private sphere, use an object of the same stirrup leather, say in a stable. Like the Scottish tawse, which is a forked version with two or more tails, both are likely to be supplied by a saddlemaker. The tawse in Scotland was colloquially known as the belt, and was the standard implement of punishment in state schools until it was banned in 1987.[1]

  • The historical strop, usually made for institutional use, is also known as a prison strap because it was mainly used on adult convicts – either for discipline within the prison system, or as an original judicial corporal punishment, often combined with prison time, imposed by a court but carried out by prison staff. This has been the case notably in the USA (mainly the South, e.g. Arkansas at least until 1967; sometimes a spanking inflicted on the trousers, sometimes bare bottom but also used on the back) and Canada (until 1972, delivered to the offender's bare buttocks).[2]

The strap has also been used on minors in reformatories and in schools. The latter was particularly prevalent in Canada, applied to the student's hand, until abolished in 2004, but there, in modern times at least, it was generally made of canvas/rubber rather than leather.

  • Because of the forceful impact a disciplinary strap makes, which can easily knock the recipient out of balance and fall over (reported by strapped punishees who were ordered to receive it while grabbing their ankles), the victim is usually supported in a bending or lying position, often tied down, e.g. over a table or punishment horse, or against a whipping post.
  • Like the holed paddle, there is a version of the strap with holes. It intentionally increases the risk and severity of blistering if administered on the bare skin.


  1. ^ "The Cane and the Tawse in Scottish Schools" at World Corporal Punishment Research.
  2. ^ "The Canadian Prison Strap" at World Corporal Punishment Research.

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