Corporal Punishment in Public Schools

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16. Corporal Punishment in Public Schools

In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Ingraham v . Wright, that schools may use corporal punishment despite parental objection. Prior to that ruling, there were few, if any, state statutes regulating the use of physical means of discipline in schools. After the decision, states began to address the issue. At present, only seven states have no statutes covering corporal punishment. In the last 10 years some 20 states have revised their laws to expressly prohibit the practice.

The following chart covers only state statutes regarding corporal punishment. It should be noted that there are also local rules that authorize the use of corporal punishment or that require parental consent before corporal punishment can be imposed upon a child. Local school districts, and even individual schools, often have their own policies and procedures for handling disciplinary problems.

This issue has become very controversial lately. With heightened public awareness of child abuse and increased sensitivity to the emotional well-being of children, many schools and teachers are loath to impose any physical discipline whatsoever upon students for fear of emotionally scarring them or being accused of child abuse themselves.

Table 16: Corporal Punishment in Public Schools
StateCode SectionPunishment AllowedCircumstances Allowable
ALABAMA16-1-24.1Local school boards to adopt code for conduct and discipline of students. 
ALASKA11.81.430 When use of force is consistent with the welfare of the students and if authorized by school regulations adopted by the school board
ARIZONA15-843Procedures for disciplining pupils, including the use of corporal punishment, are decided and allowed by governing board; use of corporal punishment is to be consistent with state board of education guidelines. 
ARKANSAS6-18-505Use of corporal punishment only in specifically authorized school district and administered in accord with districts written student discipline policy.In order to maintain discipline and order within public schools.
CALIFORNIAEduc. §§49000, 49001Corporal punishment prohibited. 
COLORADONo statutory provisions  
CONNECTICUTPenal 53a-18(2) & (6)Corporal punishment prohibited. 
DELAWARETit. 14, §702Corporal punishment prohibited. 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIANo statutory provisions  
FLORIDA1003.32Corporal punishment allowed, subject to prescribed procedures.Must have approval in principle by the principal before it is used; presence of another informed adult; and that an explanation is provided to parents.
GEORGIA20-2-730, et seq.Corporal punishment allowed, subject to various restrictions.It may not be excessive or unduly severe or be used as a first line of punishment; it must be administered in the presence of a school official; a written explanation must be provided on request; and it may not be administered if a physician certifies that the childs mental or emotional stability could be affected.
StateCode SectionPunishment AllowedCircumstances Allowable
HAWAII302A-1141Physical punishment may not be used, but a teacher may use reasonable force to restrain a student in attendance from hurting himself or any other person or property with other teacher present and out of other students presence. 
IDAHONo statutory provisions  
ILLINOISSchool Code 5124-24Corporal punishment prohibited. 
INDIANA20-8.1-5.1-3Teachers can take disciplinary action necessary to promote orderly student conduct. 
IOWA280.21Infliction of corporal punishment not allowed. Physical contact not considered corporal punishment if reasonable and necessary under the circumstances. 
KANSASNo statutory provisions  
KENTUCKY161.180Hold pupils to a strict account for their conduct on school premises. 
LOUISIANA17:223, 17:416.1Each city school board shall have discretion in the use of corporal punishment; corporal punishment allowed in a reasonable manner; corporal punishment discretionary, but rules to implement and control any form of corporal punishment to be adopted by each city school board or parish.Good cause.
MAINECrim. Sec. 106Corporal punishment prohibited. 
MARYLANDEduc. 7-306Corporal punishment may not be administered to discipline student.Disciplinary measures deemed appropriate to maintain atmosphere of order may be permitted by county school boards
MASSACHUSETTSCh. 71 §37GProhibits corporal punishment, but any member of school committee, teacher, or agent of school may use reasonable force to protect themselves, pupils, or other persons from an assault by a pupil. 
MICHIGAN380.1312Corporal punishment or threats of corporal punishment not to be inflicted under any circumstances; reasonable physical force may be used in self-defense or in defense of others, to obtain possession of weapon or other dangerous object or to protect property or to restrain or to remove noncomplying child from interfering with order of school. 
MINNESOTA121A.58Corporal punishment prohibited. 
MISSISSIPPI37-11-57Corporal punishment does not constitute abuse if reasonable manner.Reasonable physical force as necessary to maintain order.
StateCode SectionPunishment AllowedCircumstances Allowable
MISSOURI160.261Spanking approved and not considered child abuse when administered in reasonable manner and in accordance with written policy of discipline approved by board; where unreasonableness is alleged, initial investigation to be by school and not division of family services. 
MONTANA20-4-302No school district employee may inflict corporal punishment on a pupil.Physical pain resulting from a physical restraint which is reasonable and necessary is not corporal punishment (to quell a disturbance, provide self-protection, protect others from physical injury, obtain possession of a weapon, protect property from serious harm, maintain orderly conduct.)
NEBRASKA79.295Corporal punishment prohibited. 
NEVADA392.4633Corporal punishment prohibited.Reasonable and necessary force for: quell disturbance; obtain possession of weapon; self-defense; to escort disruptive student.
NEW HAMPSHIRE627.6Corporal punishment prohibited. 
NEW JERSEY18A:6-1Corporal punishment prohibited.Reasonable force may be used to quell a disturbance, obtain possession of weapons, etc., for self-defense or for protection of person or property and not considered corporal punishment.
NEW MEXICO22-5-4.3Each school district creates rules of conduct which may include corporal punishment. 
NEW YORKNo statutory provisions  
NORTH CAROLINA115C-288; 115C-390, 391Principals, teachers, and others may use reasonable force in the exercise of lawful authority to restrain or correct pupils and maintain order; local boards may not prohibit use of such force but are to adopt policies governing administration of corporal punishment, including at a minimum: notice to students and parents; teacher and no other students present. 
NORTH DAKOTA15.1-19-02Corporal punishment prohibited. 
StateCode SectionPunishment AllowedCircumstances Allowable
OHIO3319.41Corporal punishment prohibited.Board may not prohibit use of reasonable force to quell a disturbance, threatening physical injury; gain possession of weapon; or protect property.
OKLAHOMATit. 70 §24-100.4Boards to adopt policy for the control and discipline of students. 
OREGON339.250Infliction of corporal punishment is not authorized. 
PENNSYLVANIATit. 22, ch. 7 & 12Corporal punishment prohibited. 
RHODE ISLANDNo statutory provisions  
SOUTH CAROLINA59-63-260Boards may provide corporal punishment for any pupil that it deems just and proper. 
SOUTH DAKOTA13-32-2Corporal punishment prohibited. 
TENNESSEE49-6-4103; 4104Corporal punishment allowed if imposed in reasonable manner; local board of education shall adopt rules and regulations to implement and control corporal punishment in its schools.Good cause; in order to maintain discipline and order.
TEXASNo statutory provisions  
UTAH53A-11-802Corporal punishment prohibited.Use of reasonable and necessary physical restraint or force for self-defense or other appropriate circumstances listed in statute.
VERMONTTit. 16, §1161aCorporal punishment prohibited, but reasonable and necessary force may be used to quell a disturbance, obtain possession of weapon, in self-defense, or protection of persons or property. 
VIRGINIA22.1-279.1Corporal punishment prohibited, but incidental, minor or reasonable physical contact or other actions permitted to maintain order and control; reasonable and necessary force permitted to quell a disturbance or remove a child to prevent harm, in self-defense, to obtain possession of weapon, etc. 
WASHINGTON28A-150-300Corporal punishment is prohibited. 
WEST VIRGINIA18A-5-1Corporal punishment is prohibited. 
WISCONSIN118.31Corporal punishment generally prohibited; reasonable and necessary force allowed in self-defense, to protect others, etc., and as proscribed by school board policy. 
WYOMING21-4-308Boards may adopt rules for reasonable forms of punishment and disciplinary measures that teachers are authorized to impose. 

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Corporal Punishment in Public Schools

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