Special thanks to the creative efforts of Jared Abrams, filmmaker and father who produced “The Board of Education,” an educational and disturbing look at sanctioned violence against children in our schools.
S.F. 52; Iowa Code Title 7 Subtitle 6 Chapter 280.21
New York Code Title 8 Chapter 1 Part 19.5
Prohibited in public, private, and charter schools
California Code of Education Title 2 Division 4 Part 27 Chapter 6 Article 5 Section 49000
Connecticut Penal Code Section 53a-18
Delaware Code of Education Title 14 Chapter 7 Section 2
District of Columbia Municipal Regulations Title 5-E Chapter 5-E24 Section 5-E2403.2 (download linked pdf)
Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 302A Section 1141
Illinois Compiled Statutes School Code Article 24 Section 24-24
S.F. 52; Iowa Code Title 7 Subtitle 6 Chapter 280.21
Maine Revised Statutes Criminal Code Title 17-A Part 1 Chapter 5 Section 106-2
General Assembly of Maryland Statutes Education Article Title 7 Section 306
House Bill 2388 and
General Laws of Massachusetts Part 1 Title 12 Chapter 71 Section 37G
Michigan Compiled Laws Revised School Code Chapter 380 Section 1312.3
H.F. 1387 and
Minnesota Statutes Chapter 121A Section 58
Montana Code Title 20 Chapter 4 Part 3-02
Nebraska Revised Statute Chapter 79 Section 295
Senate Bill 354; Statutes of Nevada Chapter 625 Section 392.4633 (page 2622)
New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated Title LXII Chapter 627 Section 627:6
No explicit prohibition of corporal punishment, but no reported use as of 2010
Permanent Statutes Title 18A Chapter 6-1
House Bill 172; New Mexico Statutes Chapter 22 Section 5-4.3
New York Code Title 8 Chapter 1 Part 19.5
Prohibited in public, private, and charter schools
1989 House Bill 1434
2009 Senate Bill 2289
North Dakota Century Code Title 15.1 Chapter 19
Ohio Revised Code Title 33 Chapter 19.41A
Code of Oregon Chapter 238 Section 1.9a; Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 339 Section 250
Rhode Island Board of Regents’ Physical Restraint Regulations Section 3.6
South Dakota Codified Laws Title 13 Chapter 32-2
No explicit prohibition of corporal punishment; No report of paddling since 1990
Utah Code Title 53A Chapter 11 Part 8 Section 802
Prohibited in public schools unless written permission has been given by the student’s parent or guardian.
Vermont Statutes Title 16 Chapter 25 Section 1161a(c)
Prohibited in public and approved independent schools
Senate Bill 942; Code of Virginia Title 22.1 Section 22.1-279.1
Substitute House Bill 1064; Revised Code of Washington Chapter 28A Section 150.300
Senate Bill 222; and
West Virginia Code Chapter 18A Article 5-1(e)
Senate Bill 163; Wisconsin Act 303; Statute 118.31(2)
Alabama Code of Education, 16-28A-1: Legislative findings
“Teachers are hereby given the authority and responsibility to use appropriate means of discipline up to and including corporal punishment as may be prescribed by the local board of education.”
Arizona Revised Statutes, 15-843 B (2): Pupil disciplinary proceedings
“The governing board of any school district, in consultation with the teachers and parents of the school district, shall prescribe rules for the discipline, suspension and expulsion of pupils. The rules shall be consistent with the constitutional rights of pupils and shall include at least the following:
(2) Procedures for the use of corporal punishment if allowed by the governing board.”
6-17-112a “Corporal punishment — Immunity from liability”:
“(a) Teachers and administrators in a school district that authorizes use of corporal punishment in the school district’s written student discipline policy shall be immune from any civil liability for administering corporal punishment to students, provided only that the corporal punishment is administered in substantial compliance with the school district’s written student discipline policy.”
6-18-503 “Written Student Discipline Policies Required”:
“(b) (1) A school district that authorizes use of corporal punishment in its discipline policy shall include provisions for administration of the punishment, including that it be administered only for cause, be reasonable, follow warnings that the misbehavior will not be tolerated, and be administered by a teacher or a school administrator and only in the presence of a school administrator or his or her designee, who shall be a teacher or an administrator employed by the school district.”
6-18-505 “School Discipline Act”:
“(c) (1) Any teacher or school administrator in a school district that authorizes use of corporal punishment in the district’s written student discipline policy may use corporal punishment, provided only that the punishment is administered in accord with the district’s written student discipline policy, against any pupil in order to maintain discipline and order within the public schools.”
Colorado Revised Statutes, 22-32-109.1
“Board of education–specific powers and duties–safe school plan–conduct and discipline code–safe school reporting requirements–school response framework–school resource officers–definitions—repeal”:
“(2) Safe school plan: In order to provide a learning environment that is safe, conducive to the learning process, and free from unnecessary disruption, each school district board of education or institute charter school board for a charter school authorized by the charter school institute shall, following consultation with the school district accountability committee and school accountability committees, parents, teachers, administrators, students, student councils where available, and, where appropriate, the community at large, adopt and implement a safe school plan, or review and revise, as necessary in response to any relevant data collected by the school district, any existing plans or policies already in effect. In addition to the aforementioned parties, each school district board of education, in adopting and implementing its safe school plan, may consult with victims’ advocacy organizations, school psychologists, local law enforcement, and community partners. The plan, at a minimum, must include the following:
(D) Policies and procedures for the use of acts of reasonable and appropriate physical intervention or force in dealing with disruptive students; except that no board shall adopt a discipline code that includes provisions that are in conflict with the definition of child abuse.”
1002.20 “K-12 student and parent rights”:
“(c) Corporal punishment—
1. In accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.32, corporal punishment of a public school student may only be administered by a teacher or school principal within guidelines of the school principal and according to district school board policy. Another adult must be present and must be informed in the student’s presence of the reason for the punishment. Upon request, the teacher or school principal must provide the parent with a written explanation of the reason for the punishment and the name of the other adult who was present.
2. A district school board having a policy authorizing the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline shall review its policy on corporal punishment once every 3 years during a district school board meeting held pursuant to s. 1001.372. The district school board shall take public testimony at the board meeting. If such board meeting is not held in accordance with this subparagraph, the portion of the district school board’s policy authorizing corporal punishment expires.”
1003.32 Authority of teacher; responsibility for control of students; district school board and principal duties:
“Subject to law and to the rules of the district school board, each teacher or other member of the staff of any school shall have such authority for the control and discipline of students as may be assigned to him or her by the principal or the principal’s designated representative and shall keep good order in the classroom and in other places in which he or she is assigned to be in charge of students.
(k) Use corporal punishment according to school board policy and at least the following procedures, if a teacher feels that corporal punishment is necessary:
1. The use of corporal punishment shall be approved in principle by the principal before it is used, but approval is not necessary for each specific instance in which it is used. The principal shall prepare guidelines for administering such punishment which identify the types of punishable offenses, the conditions under which the punishment shall be administered, and the specific personnel on the school staff authorized to administer the punishment.
2. A teacher or principal may administer corporal punishment only in the presence of another adult who is informed beforehand, and in the student’s presence, of the reason for the punishment.
3. A teacher or principal who has administered punishment shall, upon request, provide the student’s parent with a written explanation of the reason for the punishment and the name of the other adult who was present.”
1006.07 “District school board duties relating to student discipline and school safety”:
“The district school board shall provide for the proper accounting for all students, for the attendance and control of students at school, and for proper attention to health, safety, and other matters relating to the welfare of students, including:
(a) Adopt rules for the control, discipline, in-school suspension, suspension, and expulsion of students and decide all cases recommended for expulsion. Suspension hearings are exempted from the provisions of chapter 120. Expulsion hearings shall be governed by ss. 120.569 and 120.57(2) and are exempt from s. 286.011. However, the student’s parent must be given notice of the provisions of s. 286.011 and may elect to have the hearing held in compliance with that section. The district school board may prohibit the use of corporal punishment, if the district school board adopts or has adopted a written program of alternative control or discipline.”
20-2-730 “Policies and regulations on use of corporal punishment”:
“All area, county, and independent boards of education shall be authorized to determine and adopt policies and regulations relating to the use of corporal punishment by school principals and teachers employed by such boards.”
20-2-731 “When and how corporal punishment may be administered”:
“An area, county, or independent board of education may, upon the adoption of written policies, authorize any principal or teacher employed by the board to administer, in the exercise of his sound discretion, corporal punishment on any pupil or pupils placed under his supervision in order to maintain proper control and discipline. Any such authorization shall be subject to the following requirements:
(1) The corporal punishment shall not be excessive or unduly severe;
(2) Corporal punishment shall never be used as a first line of punishment for misbehavior unless the pupil was informed beforehand that specific misbehavior could occasion its use; provided, however, that corporal punishment may be employed as a first line of punishment for those acts of misconduct which are so antisocial or disruptive in nature as to shock the conscience;
(3) Corporal punishment must be administered in the presence of a principal or assistant principal, or the designee of the principal or assistant principal, employed by the board of education authorizing such punishment, and the other principal or assistant principal, or the designee of the principal or assistant principal, must be informed beforehand and in the presence of the pupil of the reason for the punishment;
(4) The principal or teacher who administered corporal punishment must provide the child’s parent, upon request, a written explanation of the reasons for the punishment and the name of the principal or assistant principal, or designee of the principal or assistant principal, who was present; provided, however, that such an explanation shall not be used as evidence in any subsequent civil action brought as a result of the corporal punishment; and
(5) Corporal punishment shall not be administered to a child whose parents or legal guardian has upon the day of enrollment of the pupil filed with the principal of the school a statement from a medical doctor licensed in Georgia stating that it is detrimental to the child’s mental or emotional stability.”
20-2-732 “When principal or teacher not liable for administering corporal punishment”:
“No principal or teacher who shall administer corporal punishment to a pupil or pupils under his care and supervision in conformity with the policies and regulations of the area, county, or independent board of education employing him and in accordance also with this subpart shall be held accountable or liable in any criminal or civil action based upon the administering of corporal punishment where the corporal punishment is administered in good faith and is not excessive or unduly severe.”
Idaho Statutes, 33-1224: Powers and Duties of Teachers
“In the absence of any statute or rule or regulation of the board of trustees, any teacher employed by a school district shall have the right to direct how and when each pupil shall attend to his appropriate duties, and the manner in which a pupil shall demean himself while in attendance at the school. It is the duty of a teacher to carry out the rules and regulations of the board of trustees in controlling and maintaining discipline, and a teacher shall have the power to adopt any reasonable rule or regulation to control and maintain discipline in, and otherwise govern, the classroom, not inconsistent with any statute or rule or regulation of the board of trustees.”
20-33-8-8 “Duty and powers of school corporation to supervise and discipline students”:
“(a) Student supervision and the desirable behavior of students in carrying out school purposes is the responsibility of: (1) a school corporation; and (2) the students of a school corporation.
(b) In all matters relating to the discipline and conduct of students, school corporation personnel: (1) stand in the relation of parents to the students of the school corporation; (2) have the right to take any disciplinary action necessary to promote student conduct that conforms with an orderly and effective educational system, subject to this chapter; and (3) have qualified immunity with respect to a disciplinary action taken to promote student conduct under subdivision 2 if the action is taken in good faith and is reasonable.
(c) Students must: (1) follow responsible directions of school personnel in all educational settings; and (2) refrain from disruptive behavior that interferes with the educational environment.”
20-33-8-9 Disciplinary powers of teachers and school staff members:
“(a) This section applies to an individual who: (1) is a teacher or other school staff member; and (2) has students under the individual’s charge.
(b) An individual may take any action that is reasonably necessary to carry out or to prevent an interference with an educational function that the individual supervises.
(c) Subject to rules of the governing body and the administrative staff, an individual may remove a student for a period that does not exceed five school days from an educational function supervised by the individual or another individual who is a teacher or other school staff member.
(d) If an individual removes a student from a class under subsection c, the principal may place the student in another appropriate class or placement or into in school suspension. The principal may not return the student to the class from which the student was removed until the principal has met with the student, the student’s teacher, and the student’s parents to determine an appropriate behavior plan for the student. If the student’s parents do not meet with the principal and the student’s teacher within a reasonable amount of time, the student may be moved to another class at the principal’s discretion.”
31-34-1-15 “Effect of chapter on use of corporal punishment or religious practices”:
“This chapter does not do any of the following: (1) Limit the right of a parent, guardian, or custodian of a child to use reasonable corporal punishment when disciplining the child. (2) Limit the lawful practice or teaching of religious beliefs.”
The statutes contain no statutory provisions on student discipline or corporal punishment in schools. The limited use of physical force as a means of punishment by teachers and administrators in public schools is allowed, but there is no statutory guidance.
Kentucky Revised Statutes, 160.345(2)(i)(7)
“Definitions — Required adoption of school councils for school-based decision making — Composition — Responsibilities — Professional development — Exemption — Formula for allocation of school district funds — Intentionally engaging in conduct detrimental to school-based decision making by board member, superintendent, district employee, or school council member — Complaint procedure — Disciplinary action — Rescission of right to establish and powers of council — Wellness policy”:
“(i) The school council shall adopt a policy to be implemented by the principal in the following additional areas:
Selection and implementation of discipline and classroom management techniques as a part of a comprehensive school safety plan, including responsibilities of the student, parent, teacher, counselor, and principal.”
17:22 223.3(A) “Discipline of pupils; suspension from school, corporal punishment”:
“A. Every teacher is authorized to hold every pupil to a strict accountability for any disorderly conduct in school or on the playground of the school, or on any school bus going to or returning from school, or during intermission or recess. Each parish and city school board shall have discretion in the use of corporal punishment. In those cases in which a parish or city school board decides to use corporal punishment, each parish or city school board shall adopt such rules and regulations as it deems necessary to implement and control any form of corporal punishment in the schools in its district.”
235.1 “Parent orientation; local public school boards; guidelines”:
“(4) At the parent orientation meeting, the school board or its representative shall provide each parent or guardian a copy of and shall explain school board policies which:
(a) Govern the discipline of students, including but not limited to corporal punishment, detention, suspension, and expulsion of students.”
Mississippi Revised Statutes, 37-11-57
“Immunity of school personnel from liability for carrying out action in enforcing rules regarding control, discipline, suspension and expulsion of students”:
“(1) Except in the case of excessive force or cruel and unusual punishment, a public school teacher, assistant teacher, principal, or an assistant principal acting within the course and scope of his employment shall not be liable for any action carried out in conformity with state or federal law or rules or regulations of the State Board of Education or the local school board or governing board of a charter school regarding the control, discipline, suspension and expulsion of students. The local school board shall provide any necessary legal defense to a teacher, assistant teacher, principal, or assistant principal in the school district who was acting within the course and scope of his employment in any action which may be filed against such school personnel. A school district or charter school, as the case may be, shall be entitled to reimbursement for legal fees and expenses from its employee if a court finds that the act of the employee was outside the course and scope of his employment, or that the employee was acting with criminal intent. Any action by a school district or charter school against its employee and any action by the employee against the school district or charter school for necessary legal fees and expenses shall be tried to the court in the same suit brought against the school employee.
(2) Corporal punishment administered in a reasonable manner, or any reasonable action to maintain control and discipline of students taken by a public school teacher, assistant teacher, principal or assistant principal acting within the scope of his employment or function and in accordance with any state or federal laws or rules or regulations of the State Board of Education or the local school board or governing board of a charter school does not constitute negligence or child abuse. No public school teacher, assistant teacher, principal or assistant principal so acting shall be held liable in a suit for civil damages alleged to have been suffered by a student as a result of the administration of corporal punishment, or the taking of action to maintain control and discipline of a student, unless the court determines that the teacher, assistant teacher, principal or assistant principal acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose or in a manner exhibiting a wanton and willful disregard of human rights or safety. For the purposes of this subsection, “corporal punishment” means the reasonable use of physical force or physical contact by a teacher, assistant teacher, principal or assistant principal, as may be necessary to maintain discipline, to enforce a school rule, for self-protection or for the protection of other students from disruptive students.”
160.261 “Discipline, written policy established by local boards of education–contents–reporting requirements–additional restrictions for certain suspensions–weapons offense, mandatory suspension or expulsion–no civil liability for authorized personnel–spanking not child abuse, when–investigation procedure–officials falsifying reports, penalty”:
“1. The local board of education of each school district shall clearly establish a written policy of discipline, including the district’s determination on the use of corporal punishment and the procedures in which punishment will be applied. A written copy of the district’s discipline policy and corporal punishment procedures, if applicable, shall be provided to the pupil and parent or legal guardian of every pupil enrolled in the district at the beginning of each school year and also made available in the office of the superintendent of such district, during normal business hours, for public inspection. All employees of the district shall annually receive instruction related to the specific contents of the policy of discipline and any interpretations necessary to implement the provisions of the policy in the course of their duties, including but not limited to approved methods of dealing with acts of school violence, disciplining students with disabilities and instruction in the necessity and requirements for confidentiality.
563.061 Use of force by persons with responsibility for care, discipline or safety of others:
“1. The use of physical force by an actor upon another person is justifiable when the actor is a parent, guardian or other person entrusted with the care and supervision of a minor or an incompetent person or when the actor is a teacher or other person entrusted with the care and supervision of a minor for a special purpose; and
(1) The actor reasonably believes that the force used is necessary to promote the welfare of a minor or incompetent person, or, if the actor’s responsibility for the minor is for special purposes, to further that special purpose or to maintain reasonable discipline in a school, class or other group; and
(2) The force used is not designed to cause or believed to create a substantial risk of causing death, serious physical injury, disfigurement, extreme pain or extreme emotional distress.”
North Carolina General Statutes
115C-12 “Powers and duties of the Board generally”:
“The general supervision and administration of the free public school system shall be vested in the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education shall establish policy for the system of free public schools, subject to laws enacted by the General Assembly. The powers and duties of the State Board of Education are defined as follows:
(27) Reporting Dropout Rates, Corporal Punishment, Suspensions, Expulsions, and Alternative Placements. – The State Board shall report by March 15 of each year to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee on the numbers of students who have dropped out of school, been subjected to corporal punishment, been suspended, been expelled, been reassigned for disciplinary purposes, or been provided alternative education services. The data shall be reported in a disaggregated manner, reflecting the local school administrative unit, race, gender, grade level, ethnicity, and disability status of each affected student. Such data shall be readily available to the public. The State Board shall not include students that have been expelled from school when calculating the dropout rate. The Board shall maintain a separate record of the number of students who are expelled from school and the reasons for the expulsion.”
115C-107.7 “Discipline, corporal punishment, and homebound instruction”:
“(a) The policies and procedures for the discipline of students with disabilities shall be consistent with federal laws and regulations.
(b) Any corporal punishment administered on students with disabilities shall be consistent with the requirements of G.S. 115C-390.4.”
115C-276 “Duties of superintendent”:
“(r) To Maintain Student Discipline. – The superintendent shall maintain student discipline in accordance with Article 27 of this Chapter and shall keep data on each student to whom corporal punishment was administered, who was suspended for more than 10 days, who was reassigned for disciplinary reasons, or who was expelled. This data shall include the race, gender, age, grade level, ethnicity, and disability status of each student, the duration of suspension for each student, whether alternative education services were provided for each student, and whether a student had multiple suspensions in that academic year.”
115C-390.2 “Discipline policies”:
“(a) Local boards of education shall adopt policies to govern the conduct of students and establish procedures to be followed by school officials in disciplining students. These policies must be consistent with the provisions of this Article and the constitutions, statutes, and regulations of the United States and the State of North Carolina.”
21-643 “Force against another not unlawful, when – Self-defense – Defense of property”:
“To use or to attempt to offer to use force or violence upon or toward the person of another is not unlawful in the following cases:
21-844 “Ordinary force as means of discipline not prohibited”:
“Provided, however, that nothing contained in this Act shall prohibit any parent, teacher or other person from using ordinary force as a means of discipline, including but not limited to spanking, switching or paddling.”
70-24-100.4 “School Safety and Bullying Prevention Act – Discipline of child – Prohibition of bullying at school and online – Policy requirements”:
“C. The teacher of a child attending a public school shall have the same right as a parent or guardian to control and discipline such child according to district policies during the time the child is in attendance or in transit to or from the school or any other school function authorized by the school district or classroom presided over by the teacher.
D. Except concerning students on individualized education plans (IEP) pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), P.L. No. 101-476, the State Board of Education shall not have authority to prescribe student disciplinary policies for school districts or to proscribe corporal punishment in the public schools. The State Board of Education shall not have authority to require school districts to file student disciplinary action reports more often than once each year and shall not use disciplinary action reports in determining a school district’s or school site’s eligibility for program assistance including competitive grants.”
South Carolina Code of Laws, 59-63-260: Corporal Punishment
“The governing body of each school district may provide corporal punishment for any pupil that it deems just and proper.”
Tennessee Annotated Code, 49-6-4103: Corporal Punishment
Any teacher or school principal may use corporal punishment in a reasonable manner against any pupil for good cause in order to maintain discipline and order within the public schools.”
Texas Education Code, 37.001: Use of Corporal Punishment
“(a) In this section, “corporal punishment” means the deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping, or any other physical force used as a means of discipline. The term does not include:
(1) physical pain caused by reasonable physical activities associated with athletic training, competition, or physical education; or
(2) the use of restraint as authorized under Section 37.0021.
(b) If the board of trustees of an independent school district adopts a policy under Section 37.001(a)(8) under which corporal punishment is permitted as a method of student discipline, a district educator may use corporal punishment to discipline a student unless the student’s parent or guardian or other person having lawful control over the student has previously provided a written, signed statement prohibiting the use of corporal punishment as a method of student discipline.
(c) To prohibit the use of corporal punishment as a method of student discipline, each school year a student’s parent or guardian or other person having lawful control over the student must provide a separate written, signed statement to the board of trustees of the school district in the manner established by the board.”
Wyoming Statutes, 21‑4‑308: Punishment and Disciplinary Measures
“(a) Each board of trustees in each school district within the state may adopt rules for reasonable forms of punishment and disciplinary measures. Subject to such rules, teachers, principals, and superintendents in such district may impose reasonable forms of punishment and disciplinary measures for insubordination, disobedience, and other misconduct.
(b) Teachers, principals and superintendents in each district shall be immune from civil and criminal liability in the exercise of reasonable corporal discipline of a student as authorized by board policy.”
Mississippi schoolchildren talk about their experience of paddling.
How youth cope with violence amongst their peers.
Public Service Announcement: Discipline at Work
Paddling and Academic Performance: Donald Greydanus
The US Secretary of Education John King, Jr., released a statement on November 22, 2016 addressed to governors and state education administrators calling on them to end corporal punishment in schools! This momentous event is accompanied by the National Women’s Law Center publishing an open letter calling for the end of corporal punishment in schools.
Corporal Punishment in U.S. Public Schools: Prevalence, Disparities in Use, and Status in State and Federal Policy, 2016
Brookings Institute Report: Schools, black children, and corporal punishment. 2016
Civil Rights Data Collection, EDU.gov http://ocrdata.ed.gov/StateNationalEstimations/Estimations_2011_12
Corporal Punishment in Schools and Its Effect on Academic Success Joint HRW/ACLU Statement, 2010