Corporal Punishment in Schools: Definition & Consequences

Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 What is Corporal…
  • 0:35 How Prevalent is…
  • 1:20 Practice of Corporal…
  • 2:15 Pros & Cons of…
  • 3:30 Lesson Summary
Create An Account
To Start This Course Today
Used by over 10 million students worldwide
Create An Account
Try it free for 5 days
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Gary Gilles

Gary has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology and has been teaching and developing courses in higher education since 1988.

Corporal punishment in schools has declined in recent years, but still continues to be practiced in many states. Learn how prevalent corporal punishment is, the arguments for and against it and test your knowledge with quiz questions.

What is Corporal Punishment in Schools?

Corporal punishment in school refers to disciplinary action that is physical in nature and delivered by teachers or school administrators as punishment for some type of student misbehavior. Examples of corporal punishment include:

  • spanking (usually with an object such as a paddle or stick)
  • slapping (on the face or hands is most common)
  • pinching (anywhere on the body)

The corporal punishment might be applied in the classroom in front of other students or privately in the principal's office. Though some abhor the use of corporal punishment in schools, there are still many people who believe that corporal punishment has a rightful place in the educational system.

How Prevalent is Corporal Punishment in Schools?

The first state to ban corporal punishment in the United States was New Jersey in 1867. But it took 104 years for a second state to follow suit. Currently, there are 31 states that have banned the use of corporal punishment in publicly funded schools. Of the 19 states that do still permit corporal punishment, most are geographically located in the southern U.S.

Private schools are exempt from the ban on corporal punishment, except in New Jersey and Iowa. However, the majority of private schools choose not to employ corporal punishment. The private schools that do tend to use corporal punishment are also mostly located in the Southern states of the U.S.

Practice of Corporal Punishment

Where corporal punishment is practiced, whether in public or private schools, the specific type of punishment allowed is usually written out in some form of official document. The information in this document could include the type of punishment allowed (e.g., paddling), the number of strokes that can be given, who among the school staff are authorized to deliver the punishment and whether parents must first give their permission before punishment can be delivered to their child. These guidelines help school personnel to keep their punishment consistent and in line with school policy and also informs parents of what their child might incur if their actions merit discipline.

Many schools with corporal punishment guidelines also offer parents the option to 'opt-out' of the corporal system. Some schools even offer the student a choice of whether to submit to corporal punishment or receive an alternate form of discipline, such as suspension or detention.

Pros and Cons of Corporal Punishment

Those who advocate for corporal punishment in schools believe that it is an effective and immediate way to curb discipline problems in the classroom. It also sends a strong message to the other children that there are swift and uncomfortable consequences for misbehavior in the school environment.

A second argument in favor of corporal punishment is that it enables the student to receive the punishment and then get on with the task of learning. When alternate forms of discipline are used, such as suspension or detention, the learning process can be disrupted for a prolonged period of time. Suspensions or detentions can also require a significant amount of staff time to supervise and manage.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member

Already a member? Log In

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 49 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Click "next lesson" whenever you finish a lesson and quiz. Got It
You now have full access to our lessons and courses. Watch the lesson now or keep exploring. Got It
You're 25% of the way through this course! Keep going at this rate,and you'll be done before you know it.
The first step is always the hardest! Congrats on finishing your first lesson.
Way to go! If you watch at least 30 minutes of lessons each day you'll master your goals before you know it.
Congratulations on earning a badge for watching 10 videos but you've only scratched the surface. Keep it up!
You've just watched 20 videos and earned a badge for your accomplishment!
You've just earned a badge for watching 50 different lessons. Keep it up, you're making great progress!
You just watched your 100th video lesson. You have earned a badge for this achievement!
Congratulations! You just finished watching your 200th lesson and earned a badge!
Congratulations! You just finished watching your 300th lesson and earned a badge!
You are a superstar! You have earned the prestigious 500 video lessons watched badge.
Incredible. You have just entered the exclusive club and earned the 1000 videos watched badge.
You have earned a badge for watching 20 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 50 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 100 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 250 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 500 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 1000 minutes of lessons.