Black people do not favour corporal punishment in schools, while their white counterparts would welcome it.
This was revealed by a research conducted by Dr Mbithi wa Kivilu and Muchiri Wandai on the changes in attitudes towards methods of disciplining school pupils.
The findings will be published in the Human Sciences Research Council Review this week.
Corporal punishment has been banned in South African schools since 1996. Despite the ban, most teachers continue using corporal punishment because of a lack of alternative methods.
The research was done over four years with an average of 4980 respondents. The respondents were South Africans aged 16 and above.
The data show that the five methods of disciplining pupils in South African schools are reasoning or discussion with the pupil, corporal punishment by the teacher, physical labour, detention after school hours and additional learning tasks.
"In relative terms, whites and coloureds tended to lend more support to methods that cause pain and discomfort, than did Indians or Asians and black respondents.
For example, about 72 percent of whites and 62 percent of coloureds supported the use of "corporal punishment" while only 35 percent of Indians or Asians and 48 percent of black respondents supported its use.
"Indians or Asians were also least likely, compared to whites, to support 'keeping pupils after school hours' and 'physical labour like sweeping'.
"Coloureds were most likely to support 'keeping learners after school hours' and 'physical labour like sweeping' while black respondents were least likely to support 'giving of additional learning tasks'," the research states.
Sixty percent of the respondents in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape supported the use of corporal punishment, while it received the least support at 42 percent in Limpopo and North West.
The impact of corporal punishment on pupils includes the eliciting of negative emotions but little is known about the impact of the other methods in promoting desirable change in behaviour.