The Legal Practice of Corporal Punishment in U.S. Public Schools

Dr Cynthia Northington
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The use of corporal punishment by educators in schools has been legally abolished in countries across the world due to its potential for child abuse and its affect on the psychological well being of children. It is banned in African countries such as Zambia, Kenya and Namibia and Asian countries such as China and Japan. It is also illegal in the United Kingdom and in most European countries. In the United States however where school discipline varies from state to state, corporal punishment remains legal in twenty two of the fifty states.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the use of corporal punishment does not violate constitutional Eighth Amendment rights which protect citizens against cruel and unusual punishment. Teachers who utilize corporal punishment also have some support from legal provisions in the current administration's No Child Left Behind Act.

Corporal punishment in the schools has a serious affect upon the physical, emotional and psychological development of children. The ongoing admonitions of pediatricians, psychiatrists and educational organizations across the USA however, do not seem to have an effect upon the legality of this practice.

Keywords: child abuse, child development, educational psychology, corporal punishment, school discipline
Stream: Teaching and Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr Cynthia Northington

Professor, College of Education, William Paterson University

Dr Northington has taught a variety of courses including educational psychology, applied child psychology, the psychology of classroom management and the philosophical and psychological foundations of education. Before joining the faculty at WPUNJ, she enjoyed a fruitful career as a secondary teacher of psychology and special education in the New Jersey public schools. In addition to conducting workshops both nationally and abroad, she is a contributing coeditor of "Research for Educational Reform". Dr Northington is also interviewed on television, radio and quoted in print media on a variety of current issues in child development. Her research interests in psychology include: adolescent development, international educational practices, classroom management, and attribution theory. Her publications reflect her interest in these areas. She is also a member of the National Association of Multicultural Education (NAME), the New Jersey Association of Teacher Educators (NJATE), the Association for the Advancement of Educational Research and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).

Ref: H05P0128