School corporal punishment

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School corporal punishment refers to inflicting deliberate physical or emotional pain or discomfort in response to undesired behavior by students in schools. It often involves striking the student either across the buttocks or palms of their hands [1] or on the hands, [2] with a tool such as a rattan cane, wooden paddle, slipper, leather strap or wooden yardstick. Less commonly, it could also include spanking or smacking the student with the open hand, especially at the primary school and junior secondary school levels .

Corporal punishment form of physical punishment that involves pain

Corporal punishment or physical punishment is a punishment intended to cause physical pain on a person. It is most often practised on minors, especially in home and school settings. Common methods include spanking or paddling. It has also historically been used on adults, particularly on prisoners and enslaved people. Other common methods include flagellation and caning.

Caning form of corporal punishment

Caning is a form of corporal punishment consisting of a number of hits with a single cane usually made of rattan, generally applied to the offender's bare or clothed buttocks or hand(s). Caning on the knuckles or shoulders is much less common. Caning can also be applied to the soles of the feet. The size and flexibility of the cane and the mode of application, as well as the number of the strokes, vary greatly — from a couple of light strokes with a small cane across the seat of a junior schoolboy's trousers, to 24 very hard, wounding cuts on the bare buttocks with a large, heavy, soaked rattan as a judicial punishment in some Southeast Asian countries.

A spanking paddle is an implement used to strike a person on the buttocks. The act of spanking a person with a paddle is known as "paddling". A paddling may be for punishment, or as an initiation or hazing ritual.


In the English-speaking world, the use by schools of corporal punishment has historically been justified by the common-law doctrine in loco parentis , whereby teachers are considered authority figures granted the same rights as parents to punish children in their care if they do not adhere to the set rules.

The term in loco parentis, Latin for "in the place of a parent" refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent. Originally derived from English common law, it is applied in two separate areas of the law.

Advocates of school corporal punishment argue that it provides an immediate response to indiscipline and that the student is quickly back in the classroom learning, unlike suspension from school. Opponents, including a number of medical and psychological societies, along with human-rights groups, argue that physical punishment is ineffective in the long term, interferes with learning, leads to antisocial behavior as well as various forms of mental distress, disproportionately affects students of color, and is a form of violence that breaches the rights of children. [3]

Suspension is either paid or unpaid time away from the workplace as ordered by the employer in order for a workplace investigation to take place.

Poland was the first nation to outlaw corporal punishment in schools in 1783. School corporal punishment is no longer legal in any European country. As of 2016, an estimated 128 countries have prohibited corporal punishment in schools, including all of Europe, and most of South America and East Asia. Approximately 69 countries still allow for corporal punishment in schools, including parts of the United States, some Australian states, and a number of countries in Africa and Asia. [4]

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.


Medieval schoolboy birched on the bare buttocks Koerperstrafe- MA Birkenrute.png
Medieval schoolboy birched on the bare buttocks

Corporal punishment in the context of schools in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has been variously defined as: causing deliberate pain to a child in response to the child's undesired behavior and/or language, [5] "purposeful infliction of bodily pain or discomfort by an official in the educational system upon a student as a penalty for unacceptable behavior", [6] and "intentional application of physical pain as a means of changing behavior" (not the occasional use of physical restraint to protect student or others from immediate harm). [7]


Corporal punishment used to be prevalent in schools in many parts of the world, but in recent decades it has been outlawed in 128 countries including all of Europe, most of South America, as well as in Canada, Japan, South Africa, New Zealand and several other countries. It remains commonplace in a number of countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East (see list of countries, below).

Southeast Asia Subregion of Asia

Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China and Japan, east of India, west of Papua New Guinea, and north of Australia. Southeast Asia is bordered to the north by East Asia, to the west by South Asia and the Bay of Bengal, to the east by Oceania and the Pacific Ocean, and to the south by Australia and the Indian Ocean. The region is the only part of Asia that lies partly within the Southern Hemisphere, although the majority of it is in the Northern Hemisphere. In contemporary definition, Southeast Asia consists of two geographic regions:

  1. Mainland Southeast Asia, also known historically as Indochina, comprising parts of Northeast India, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and West Malaysia.
  2. Maritime Southeast Asia, also known historically as Nusantara, the East Indies and Malay Archipelago, comprises the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India, Indonesia, East Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, East Timor, Brunei, Christmas Island, and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Taiwan is also included in this grouping by many anthropologists.

While most U.S. states have outlawed corporal punishment in state schools, it continues to be allowed mainly in the Southern and Western United States. [8] According to the United States Department of Education, more than 216,000 students were subjected to corporal punishment during the 200809 school year. [9]

Much of the traditional culture that surrounds corporal punishment in school, at any rate in the English-speaking world, derives largely from British practice in the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly as regards the caning of teenage boys. [10] There is a vast amount of literature on this, in both popular and serious culture. [11] [12] Britain itself outlawed the practice in 1987 for state schools [13] [14] [15] and more recently for all schools. [16] [17]

The doctrine of in loco parentis lets school officials stand in for parents as comparable authority figures. [6] The doctrine has its origins in an English common-law precedent of 1770. [7]

1839 caricature by George Cruikshank of a school flogging 'February - Cutting Weather - Squally' - George Cruikshank, 1839 - BL.jpg
1839 caricature by George Cruikshank of a school flogging

Many schools in Singapore and Malaysia use caning (for boys) as a routine official punishment for misconduct, as also some African countries. In some Middle Eastern countries whipping is used. (See list of countries, below.)

In most of continental Europe, school corporal punishment has been banned for several decades or longer, depending on the country (see the list of countries below).

From the 1917 Russian revolution onwards, corporal punishment was outlawed in the Soviet Union, because it was deemed contrary to communist ideology. [18] Communists in other countries such as Britain took the lead in campaigning against school corporal punishment, which they viewed as a symptom of the decadence of capitalist education systems. [19] In the 1960s, Soviet visitors to western schools expressed shock at the caning of boys there. [20] Other communist regimes followed suit: for instance, corporal punishment was "unknown" by students in North Korea in 2007. [21] In mainland China, corporal punishment in schools was outlawed in 1986, [22] although the practice remains common, especially in rural areas. [23]

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are three broad rationales for the use of corporal punishment in schools: beliefs, based in traditional religion, that adults have a right, if not a duty, to physically punish misbehaving children; a disciplinary philosophy that corporal punishment builds character, being necessary for the development of a child's conscience and their respect for adult authority figures; and beliefs concerning the needs and rights of teachers, specifically that corporal punishment is essential for maintaining order and control in the classroom. [6]

Effects on students

School teachers and policymakers often rely on personal anecdotes to argue that school corporal punishment improves students' behavior and achievements. [24] However, there is a lack of empirical evidence showing that corporal punishment leads to better control in the classrooms. In particular, evidence does not suggest that it enhances moral character development, increases students' respect for teachers or other authority figures, or offers greater security for teachers. [25]

A number of medical, pediatric or psychological societies have issued statements opposing all forms of corporal punishment in schools, citing such outcomes as poorer academic achievements, increases in antisocial behaviours, injuries to students, and an unwelcoming learning environment. They include the American Medical Association, [26] the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, [5] the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), [6] [27] [28] the Society for Adolescent Medicine, [7] [29] the American Psychological Association, [30] the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, [31] [32] the Royal College of Psychiatrists, [33] the Canadian Paediatric Society [34] and the Australian Psychological Society, [35] as well as the United States' National Association of Secondary School Principals. [36]

According to the AAP, research shows that corporal punishment is less effective than other methods of behaviour management in schools, and "praise, discussions regarding values, and positive role models do more to develop character, respect, and values than does corporal punishment". [6] They say that evidence links corporal punishment of students to a number of adverse outcomes, including: "increased aggressive and destructive behaviour, increased disruptive classroom behaviour, vandalism, poor school achievement, poor attention span, increased drop-out rate, school avoidance and school phobia, low self-esteem, anxiety, somatic complaints, depression, suicide and retaliation against teachers". [6] The AAP recommends a number of alternatives to corporal punishment including various nonviolent behaviour-management strategies, modifications to the school environment, and increased support for teachers. [6]

Injuries to students

An estimated 1 to 2 percent of physically punished students in the United States are seriously injured, to the point of needing medical attention. According to the AAP and the Society for Adolescent Medicine, these injuries have included bruises, abrasions, broken bones, whiplash injury, muscle damage, brain injury, and even death. [6] [7] Other reported injuries to students include "sciatic nerve damage" [6] "extensive hematomas", and "life-threatening fat hemorrhage". [7]

Promotion of violence

The AAP cautions that there is a risk of corporal punishment in schools fostering the impression among students that violence is an appropriate means for managing others' behaviour. [6] According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, "Corporal punishment signals to the child that a way to settle interpersonal conflicts is to use physical force and inflict pain". [5] And according to the Society for Adolescent Medicine, "The use of corporal punishment in schools promotes a very precarious message: that violence is an acceptable phenomenon in our society. It sanctions the notion that it is meritorious to be violent toward our children, thereby devaluing them in society's eyes. It encourages children to resort to violence because they see their authority figures or substitute parents doing it [...] Violence is not acceptable and we must not support it by sanctioning its use by such authority figures as school officials". [7]


The Society for Adolescent Medicine recommends developing "a milieu of effective communication, in which the teacher displays an attitude of respect for the students", as well as instruction that is stimulating and appropriate to student's abilities, various nonviolent behaviour modification techniques, and involving students and parents in making decisions about school matters such as rules and educational goals. They suggest that student self-governance can be an effective alternative for managing disruptive classroom behaviour, while stressing the importance of adequate training and support for teachers. [7]

The AAP remarks that there has been "no reported increase in disciplinary problems in schools following the elimination of corporal punishment" according to evidence. [6]

Student rights

A number of international human-rights organizations including the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have stated that physical punishment of any kind is a violation of children's human rights. [37] [38] [39]

According to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, "Children do not lose their human rights by virtue of passing through the school gates [...] the use of corporal punishment does not respect the inherent dignity of the child nor the strict limits on school discipline". [40] The Committee interprets Article 19 of the Convention on the rights of the child, which obliges member states to "take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse […] while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child", to imply a prohibition on all forms of corporal punishment.

Other international human-rights bodies supporting prohibition of corporal punishment of children in all settings, including schools, include the European Committee of Social Rights and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. In addition, the obligation of member states to prohibit corporal punishment in schools and elsewhere was affirmed in the 2009 Cairo Declaration on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Islamic Jurisprudence. [41]

By country

Corporal punishment in the United States.svg
School corporal punishment in the United States

Corporal punishment of minors in the United States

  Corporal punishment illegal in schools only
  Corporal punishment not illegal
Corporal punishment in Europe.svg
Legality of corporal punishment of minors in Europe
  Corporal punishment illegal in both schools and the home
  Corporal punishment illegal in schools only
  Corporal punishment legal in schools and in the home

According to the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, all forms of corporal punishment in schools are outlawed in 128 countries as of 2016. [4] (46 of these countries also prohibited corporal punishment of children in the home as of May 2015). [41]


Banned in 1813, corporal punishment was re-legalised in 1815 and punishments by physical pain lasted legally till 1884, when it was banned again unless there was a Court order. The instruments were rebenques, slappings in the face and others. [42] [43] All corporal punishment in children is prohibited everywhere (schools, home, etc) since 2016. [44]


In Australia, laws on corporal punishment in schools are determined at individual state or territory level. [45] [46] While still legal in private schools in some states, in practice, very few schools impose corporal punishment. [47]

StateGovernment schoolsNon-government schools
Victoria Banned in 1983. [48] Banned in 1990.
Queensland [49] Banned in 1994. [50] Not banned. [51]
New South Wales [52] First banned in 1987. [48] [53] [54] Ban repealed in 1989 but was in disuse. [55]
Banned again in 1995. [56] [57]
Banned in 1997. [56]
Tasmania [58] Banned in 1999. [59] [60] Banned in 1999. [59]
Australian Capital Territory [61] Banned in 1988. [62] [63] Banned in 1997.
Northern Territory [64] Not Banned.[ citation needed ]Banned in 2009.
South Australia Banned in 1991.Not banned
Western Australia Banned in 1999. [65]
Effectively abolished by Education Department policy in 1987. [66]
Banned in 2015. [67] [68]


Corporal punishment in schools was banned in Austria in 1974. [69]


Corporal punishment in all settings, including schools, was prohibited in Bolivia in 2014. According to the Children and Adolescents Code, "The child and adolescent has the right to good treatment, comprising a non-violent upbringing and education... Any physical, violent and humiliating punishment is prohibited". [70]


Corporal punishment in all settings, including schools, was prohibited in Brazil in 2014. According to an amendment to the Code on Children and Adolescents 1990, "Children and Adolescents are entitled to be educated and cared for without the use of physical punishment or cruel or degrading treatment as forms of correction, discipline, education or any other pretext". [71]

Burma (Myanmar)

Caning is commonly used by teachers as a punishment in schools. [72] The cane is applied on the students' buttocks, calves or palms of the hands in front of the class. Tramline cane marks could be left. Sit-ups with ears pulled and arms crossed, kneeling, and standing on the bench in the classroom are other forms of corporal punishments used in schools. Common reasons for punishment include talking in class, not finishing homework, mistakes made with classwork, fighting and truancy. [73] [74]


In Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada (2004) the Supreme Court outlawed school corporal punishment. [75] In public schools, the usual implement was a rubber/canvas strap applied to the hands, [76] while private schools often used a paddle or cane administered to the student's posterior. [77] [78] In many parts of Canada, 'the strap' had not been used in public schools since the 1970s or even earlier: thus, it has been claimed that it had not been used in Quebec since the 1960s, [79] and in Toronto it was banned in 1971. [2] However, some schools in Alberta had been using the strap up until the ban in 2004. [80]

School Corporal Punishment Bans in Canadian Provinces

In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada outlawed corporal punishment in all schools, public or private. The practice itself had largely been abandoned in the 1970s when parents placed greater scrutiny on the treatment of children at school. [81] The subject received extensive media coverage, and corporal punishment became obsolete as the practice was widely seen as degrading and inhumane. Despite the fact that the tradition had been forgone for nearly 30 years, legislation banning the practice entirely by law was not implemented until 2004. [82]

Some Canadian provinces banned corporal punishment in public schools prior to the national ban in 2004. They are, in chronological order by year of provincial ban:[ citation needed ]


Corporal punishment in China was officially banned after the communist revolution in 1949. The Compulsory Education Law of 1986 states: "It shall be forbidden to inflict physical punishment on students". [22] In practice, beatings by schoolteachers are common, especially in rural areas. [23] [83]


Colombian private and public schools were banned from using "penalties involving physical or psychological abuse" through the Children and Adolescents Code 2006, though it is not clear whether this also applies to indigenous communities. [84] [ better source needed ]

Costa Rica

All corporal punishment, both in school and in the home, has been banned since 2008. [85]

Czech Republic

Corporal punishment is outlawed under Article 31 of the Education Act. [86]


Corporal punishment was prohibited in the public schools in Copenhagen Municipality in 1951 and by law in all schools of Denmark on 14 June 1967. [87] [88] [89]


A 1998 study found that random physical punishment (not proper formal corporal punishment) was being used extensively by teachers in Egypt to punish behavior they regarded as unacceptable. Around 80% of the boys and 60% of the girls were punished by teachers using their hands, sticks, straps, shoes, punches, and kicks as most common methods of administration. The most common reported injuries were bumps and contusions. [90]


Corporal punishment in public schools was banned in 1914, but remained de facto commonplace until 1984, when a law banning all corporal punishment of minors, even by parents, was introduced. [91] [92]


The systematic use of corporal punishment has been absent from French schools since the 19th century. [93] There is no explicit legal ban on it, [94] but in 2008 a teacher was fined €500 for what some people describe as slapping a student. [95] [96] [97]


School corporal punishment, historically widespread, was outlawed in different states via their administrative law at different times. It was not completely abolished everywhere until 1983. [98] Since 1993, use of corporal punishment by a teacher has been a criminal offence. In that year a sentence by the Federal Court of Justice of Germany (Bundesgerichtshof, case number NStZ 1993.591) was published which overruled the previous powers enshrined in unofficial customary law (Gewohnheitsrecht) and upheld by some regional appeal courts (Oberlandesgericht, Superior State Court) even in the 1970s. They assumed a right of chastisement was a defense of justification against the accusation of "causing bodily harm" per Paragraph (=Section) 223 Strafgesetzbuch (Federal Penal Code).


Corporal punishment in Greek primary schools was banned in 1998, and in secondary schools in 2005. [99]


Corporal punishment is still used in most of India. The Delhi High Court banned its use in Delhi schools in 2000. 17 out of 29 states claim to apply the ban, though enforcement is lax. [100] A number of social and cultural groups, including Shankaracharya, are campaigning against corporal punishment in India. In many states, corporal punishment is still practised within most schools. Society for Prevention of Injuries & Corporal Punishment (SPIC) is actively running awareness campaigns to educate the teachers and students through conferences and scientific publications. [101]


In the law of the Republic of Ireland, corporal punishment was prohibited in 1982 by an administrative decision of John Boland, the Minister for Education, which applied to national schools (most primary schools) and to secondary schools receiving public funding (practically all of them). [102] Teachers were not liable to criminal prosecution until 1997, when the rule of law allowing "physical chastisement" was explicitly abolished. [103]


Corporal punishment in Italian schools was banned in 1928. [104]


Although banned in 1947, corporal punishment is still commonly found in schools in the 2010s and particularly widespread in school sports clubs. In late 1987, about 60% of junior high school teachers felt it was necessary, with 7% believing it was necessary in all conditions, 59% believing it should be applied sometimes and 32% disapproving of it in all circumstances; while at elementary (primary) schools, 2% supported it unconditionally, 47% felt it was necessary and 49% disapproved. [105] As recent as December 2012, a high school student committed suicide after having been constantly beaten by his basketball coach. [106] An education ministry survey found that more than 10,000 students received illegal corporal punishment from more than 5,000 teachers across Japan in 2012 fiscal year alone. [107]


Corporal punishment in schools was banned in 1845 and became a criminal offence in 1974 (Aggravated Assault on Minors under Authority). [108] [109]


A picture showing the marks left on a Malaysian female student's palm after a caning Hand caning.jpg
A picture showing the marks left on a Malaysian female student's palm after a caning

Caning is a common form of discipline in many Malaysian schools. Legally it should be applied only to male students, but the idea of making the caning of girls lawful has recently been debated. This would be applied to the palm of the hand, whereas boys are typically caned across the seat of the trousers. [110]


Caning and other forms of corporal punishment in schools was abolished in 1920. [111]

New Zealand

In New Zealand schools, corporal punishment was abolished in practice in 1987, but wasn't criminalised until 23 July 1990, [112] when Section 139A of the Education Act 1989 was inserted by the Education Amendment Act 1990. Section 139A prohibits anyone employed by a school or early childhood education (ECE) provider, or anyone supervising or controlling students on the school's behalf, from using force by way of correction or punishment towards any student at or in relation to the school or the student under their supervision or control. [113] Teachers who administer corporal punishment can be found guilty of physical assault, resulting in termination and cancellation of teacher registration, and possibly criminal charges, with a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment. [114]

As enacted, the law had a loophole: parents, provided they were not school staff, could still discipline their children on school grounds. In early 2007, a southern Auckland Christian school was found to be using this loophole to discipline students by corporal punishment, by making the student's parents administer the punishment. [115] This loophole was closed in May 2007 by the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007, which enacted a blanket ban on parents administering corporal punishment to their children.


Corporal punishment in Norwegian schools was strongly restricted in 1889, and was prohibited outright in 1936.[ citation needed ]


School corporal punishment in Pakistan is not very common in modern educational institutions although it is still used in schools across the rural parts of the country as a means of enforcing student discipline. The method has been criticised by some children's rights activists who claim that many cases of corporal punishment in schools have resulted in physical and mental abuse of schoolchildren. According to one report, corporal punishment is a key reason for school dropouts and subsequently, street children, in Pakistan; as many as 35,000 high school pupils are said to drop out of the education system each year because they have been punished or abused in school. [116]


Corporal punishment is prohibited in private and public schools. [117]


In 1783, Poland became the first country in the world to prohibit corporal punishment. [118] Peter Newell assumes that perhaps the most influential writer on the subject was the English philosopher John Locke, whose Some Thoughts Concerning Education explicitly criticised the central role of corporal punishment in education. Locke's work was highly influential, and may have helped influence Polish legislators to ban corporal punishment from Poland's schools in 1783. Today, the ban of corporal punishment in all forms is vested in Constitution of Poland. [119] [120]


Corporal punishment was banned in Soviet (and hence, Russian) schools in 1917. [18] In addition, the Article 336 (since 2006) of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation states that any teacher who has used corporal punishment on a pupil shall be dismissed.


Corporal punishment was first explicitly prohibited in schools in article 67 of the Law on Public Schools 1929, passed in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, of which Serbia was then a part. Other now independent countries which belonged to Yugoslavia then and to which the 1929 Law applied are: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Slovenia. In Serbia, corporal punishment in schools is now unlawful under the Law on Secondary Schools 1992, the Law on Elementary Schools 1992 and the Law on the Foundations of Education and Upbringing 2003/2009. [121]


Corporal punishment is legal in Singapore schools (for male students only, it is illegal to inflict it on female students) and fully encouraged by the government in order to maintain strict discipline. [122] Only a light rattan cane may be used. [123] This must be administered in a formal ceremony by the school management after due deliberation, not by classroom teachers. Most secondary schools (whether independent, autonomous or government-controlled), and also some primary schools, use caning to deal with misconduct by boys. [124] At the secondary level, the rattan strokes are nearly always delivered to the student's clothed buttocks. The Ministry of Education has stipulated a maximum of six strokes per occasion. In some cases the punishment is carried out in front of the rest of the school instead of in private. [125]

South Africa

The use of corporal punishment in schools was prohibited by the South African Schools Act, 1996. According to section 10 of the act:

(1) No person may administer corporal punishment at a school to a learner.

(2) Any person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a sentence which could be imposed for assault. [126]

In the case of Christian Education South Africa v Minister of Education the Constitutional Court rejected a claim that the constitutional right to religious freedom entitles private Christian schools to impose corporal punishment.

South Korea

Liberal regions in South Korea have completely banned all forms of caning beginning with Gyeonggi Province in 2010, followed by Seoul Metropolitan City, Gangwon Province, Gwangju Metropolitan City and North Jeolla Province in 2011. [127] Other more conservative regions are governed by a national law enacted in 2011 which states that while caning is generally forbidden, it can be used indirectly to maintain school discipline. [128] It is still known to be practised. [129]


Corporal punishment in Spanish schools was banned in 1985. [130]


Corporal punishment at school has been prohibited in folkskolestadgan (the elementary school ordinance) since 1 January 1958. Its use by ordinary teachers in grammar schools had been outlawed in 1928. [131]


In 2006 Taiwan made corporal punishment in the school system illegal, [132] but it is still known to be practised (see Corporal punishment in Taiwan).


In Tanzania corporal punishment in schools is widely practised and has led to lasting damage including death of a punished pupil. The Education Act of 2002 authorizes the minister in charge of education to issue regulations concerning corporal punishment. The Education (Corporal Punishment) Regulation G.N. 294 of 2002 gives the authority to order corporal punishment to the headmaster of a school who can delegate to any teacher on case by case basis. The number of strikes must not be more than 4 for each occurrence, The school should have a register where date, reason, name of pupil and of administering teacher together with the number of strikes is to be recorded. [133]


Corporal punishment in schools is illegal under the Ministry of Education Regulation on Student Punishment (2005) and the National Committee on Child Protection Regulation on Working Procedures of Child Protection Officers Involved in Promoting Behaviour of Students (2005), pursuant to article 65 of the Child Protection Act. [134]

Thai proverb "If you love your cow, tie it up; if you love your child, beat him." is still considered "wisdom" and is held by many parents and teachers. [135]


Corporal punishment was banned in Soviet (and hence, Ukrainian) schools in 1917. [18] In Ukraine, "physical or mental violence" against children is forbidden by the Constitution (Art.52.2) and the Law on Education (Art.51.1, since 1991) which states that students and other learners have the right “to the protection from any form of exploitation, physical and psychological violence, actions of pedagogical and other employees who violate the rights or humiliate their honour and dignity”. [136] Standard instructions for teachers provided by the Ministry of Science and Education state that a teacher who has used corporal punishment to a pupil (even once), shall be dismissed.

United Arab Emirates

A federal law was implemented in 1998 which banned school corporal punishment. The law applied to all schools, both public and private. [137] [138] Any teacher who engages in the practice would not only lose their job and teaching license, but will also face criminal prosecution for engaging in violence against minors and will also face child abuse charges. [139]

United Kingdom

Excerpt from a caning record of a British school (1970) Punishment-record.jpg
Excerpt from a caning record of a British school (1970)

In state-run schools, and in private schools where at least part of the funding came from government, corporal punishment was outlawed by the British Parliament in 1986, following a 1982 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that such punishment could not be administered without parental consent, and that a child's "right to education" could not be infringed by suspending children who, with parental approval, refused to submit to corporal punishment. [140] [141] In other private schools, it was banned in 1998 (England and Wales), 2000 (Scotland) and 2003 (Northern Ireland). [142] Schools had to keep a record of punishments inflicted, [143] and there are occasional press reports of examples of these "punishment books" having survived. [144] [145]

The implement used in many state and private schools in England and Wales was often a rattan cane, struck either across the student's hands or (especially in the case of teenage boys) the clothed buttocks. "Slippering"—striking the buttocks with a rubber-soled gym shoe, or plimsoll shoe—was widely used in many schools, for example King's School, Macclesfield, a boys grammar school in Cheshire. [146] In a few English cities, a strap was used instead of the cane. [147] In Scotland a leather strap, the tawse, administered to the palms of the hands, was universal in state schools, [148] but some private schools used the cane. [149]

Prior to the ban in private schools in England, the "slippering" of a student at an independent boarding school was challenged in 1993 before the European Court of Human Rights. [150] The Court ruled 5–4 in that case that the punishment was not severe enough to infringe the student's "freedom from degrading punishment" under article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The dissenting judges argued that the ritualised nature of the punishment, given after several days and without parental consent, should qualify it as "degrading punishment". [151]

R (Williamson) v Secretary of State for Education and Employment (2005) was an unsuccessful challenge to the prohibition of corporal punishment contained in the Education Act 1996, by several headmasters of private Christian schools who argued that it was a breach of their religious freedom.

In response to a 2008 poll of 6,162 UK teachers by the Times Educational Supplement , 22% of secondary school teachers and 16% of primary school teachers supported "the right to use corporal punishment in extreme cases". The National Union of Teachers said that it "could not support the views expressed by those in favour of hitting children". [152] [153]

United States

There is no federal law addressing corporal punishment in public or private schools. In 1977, the Supreme Court ruling in Ingraham v. Wright held that the Eighth Amendment clause prohibiting "cruel and unusual punishments" did not apply to school students, and that teachers could punish children without parental permission.

As of 2015, 31 states and the District of Columbia have banned corporal punishment in public schools, though in some of these there is no explicit prohibition. Corporal punishment is also unlawful in private schools in Iowa and New Jersey. In 19 U.S. states, corporal punishment is lawful in both public and private schools. [154] It is still common in some schools in the South, and more than 167,000 students were paddled in the 2011-2012 school year in American public schools. [155] Students can be physically punished from kindergarten to the end of high school, meaning that even legal adults who have reached the age of majority are sometimes spanked by school officials. [156] American legal scholars have argued that school paddling is unconstitutional and can cause lasting physical, emotional, and cognitive harm. [157]


Corporal punishment in all settings, including schools, was prohibited in Venezuela in 2007. According to the Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents, "All children and young people have a right to be treated well. This right includes a non-violent education and upbringing... Consequently, all forms of physical and humiliating punishment are prohibited". [158]


In Uganda, teachers usually keep their huge classes calm by corporal punishment. However, there is some movement, who wants them to change disciplining methods by using positive discipline. Teachers should better teach them how to improve, when they performed badly. [159]

See also

Related Research Articles

Spanking corporal punishment involving the act of striking the buttocks of another person

Spanking is a common form of corporal punishment, involving the act of striking the buttocks of another person to cause physical pain, generally with an open hand. More severe forms of spanking, such as switching, paddling, belting, caning, whipping, and birching, involve the use of an object instead of a hand.

Teacher person who helps others to acquire knowledge, competences or values

A teacher is a person who helps others to acquire knowledge, competences or values.

School discipline punishment used in schools

School discipline relates to the actions taken by a teacher or the school organization towards a student when the student's behavior disrupts the ongoing educational activity or breaks a rule created by the teacher or the school system. Discipline can guide the children's behaviour or set limits to help them learn to take care of themselves, other people and the world around them.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to children:


The tawse, sometimes formerly spelled taws is an implement used for corporal punishment. It was used for educational discipline, primarily in Scotland, but also in schools in the English cities of Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, Manchester and Walsall.

Caning in Singapore Corporal punishment

Caning is a widely used form of legal corporal punishment in Singapore. It can be divided into several contexts: judicial, prison, reformatory, military, school, and domestic or private. These practices of caning are largely a legacy of, and are influenced by, British colonial rule in Singapore. Similar forms of corporal punishment are also used in some other former British colonies, including two of Singapore's neighbouring countries, Malaysia and Brunei.


A slippering is a term for the act of smacking the buttocks, or the hands, with a slipper as a form of corporal punishment. A slippering on the buttocks is a form of spanking; it is a much more common method than slippering on the hands. The verb "to slipper" means "to give a slippering". Until at least the 1970s, slippering was widely used by British parents as a means of punishing children and adolescents. The routine nature of such punishment is demonstrated by the frequency with which comics of the day showed scenes in which characters such as Dennis the Menace, Roger the Dodger, Minnie the Minx and Beryl the Peril were slippered by an irate parent. There has been very little data, research or evidence compiled about the use of slippering. Information is mainly based on anecdotal reports from individuals who have given, received, or observed slipperings, or who have been in households or schools where slipperings were used. Slipperings are particularly associated with Britain and Commonwealth countries, although not exclusively so.

Corporal punishment in Taiwan

Corporal punishment is banned in the penal and education systems of the Republic of China (Taiwan), but there are no laws banning its use in the home.

Strapping (punishment)

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.

Physical or corporal punishment by a parent or other legal guardian is any act causing deliberate physical pain or discomfort to a minor child in response to some undesired behavior. It typically takes the form of spanking or slapping the child with an open hand or striking with an implement such as a belt, slipper, cane, hairbrush or paddle, and can also include shaking, pinching, forced ingestion of substances, or forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions.

Campaigns against corporal punishment

Campaigns against corporal punishment aim to reduce or eliminate corporal punishment of minors by instigating legal and cultural changes in the areas where such punishments are practiced. Such campaigns date mostly from the late 20th century, although occasional voices in opposition to corporal punishment existed from ancient times through to the modern era.

R v Hopley was an 1860 legal case in Eastbourne, England, concerning the death of 15-year-old Reginald Cancellor at the hands of his teacher, Thomas Hopley. Hopley used corporal punishment with the stated intention of overcoming what he perceived as stubbornness on Cancellor's part, but instead beat the boy to death.

Anti-bullying legislation is legislation enacted to help reduce and eliminate bullying. This legislation may be national or sub-national, and is commonly aimed at ending bullying in schools or workplaces.

<i>Christian Education South Africa v Minister of Education</i>

Christian Education South Africa v Minister of Education is an important case in South African law. It was heard in the Constitutional Court, by Chaskalson P, Langa DP, Goldstone J, Madala J, Mokgoro J, Ngcobo J, O'Regan J, Sachs J, Yacoob J and Cameron AJ, on 4 May 2000, with judgment handed down on 18 August. FG Richings SC appeared for the appellant, and MNS Sithole SC for the respondent.

School corporal punishment in the United States

Corporal punishment, also referred to as "physical punishment" or "physical discipline," is defined as utilizing physical force, no matter how light, to cause deliberate bodily pain or discomfort in response to some undesired behavior. In schools in the United States, this punishment often takes the form of either a teacher or school principal striking the student's buttocks with a wooden paddle.

Corporal punishment of minors in the United States

Corporal punishment of minors in the United States, meaning the infliction of physical pain or discomfort by parents or other adult guardians, including in some cases school officials, for purposes of punishing unacceptable behavior, is subject to varying legal limits, depending on the state. Minor children in the United States commonly experience some form of corporal punishment, such as spanking or paddling. Despite opposition from medical and social-services professionals, as of 2016 the spanking of children is legal in all states and as of 2014 most people still believe it is acceptable provided it does not involve implements. Corporal punishment is in the United States usually considered distinct from illegal child abuse, although the distinction can often be vague.

Child corporal punishment laws

The legality of corporal punishment of children varies by country. Corporal punishment of minor children by parents or adult guardians, which is any punishment intended to cause physical pain, has been traditionally legal in nearly all countries unless explicitly outlawed. According to a 2014 estimate by Human Rights Watch, "Ninety percent of the world’s children live in countries where corporal punishment and other physical violence against children is still legal". Many countries' laws provide for a defence of "reasonable chastisement" against charges of assault and other crimes for parents using corporal punishment. This defence is ultimately derived from English law.


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