What is corporal punishment? The National Association of School Nurses defines it as “the intentional infliction of physical pain as a method of changing behavior. It may include methods such as hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, pinching, shaking, use of various objects (paddles, belts, sticks, or others), or painful body postures." It is still permitted in public schools in 20 states while corporal punishment such as paddling, spanking and hitting students disappeared from private schools by the 1960. Why is this so? There is no easy answer to that question.  You will see that corporal punishment is still legal in southern and western states east of the Rockies in case you look at the map on The Center for Effective Discipline's site. The northern and west coast states made corporal punishment in their schools illegal in the 1970s and 1980s. Canada banned corporal punishment in 2004. No European country permits corporal punishment. So far, the United States Congress has not acted on requests from different organizations. Any further banning of corporal punishment will probably have to occur at that level since education is widely viewed as a local and state matter.

Banning corporal punishment

On the other hand, the local authorities might be more inclined to pass the appropriate laws in case the federal government were to withhold funding from states where corporal punishment is legal. Corporal punishment in one form or another has been around schools for centuries. It certainly is not a new issue. What is ironic about this situation is that no accredited teachers' college in the U.S. advocates the use of corporal punishment. Why is the use of it still legal in case they don't teach the use of corporal punishment in the classroom? Corporal punishment is not allowed in the military, mental institutions and prisons. But it is still legal to hit students in 20 states.  Children who are beaten and abused are more likely to be prone to depression, low self-esteem and suicide – this is what the research shows. he simple fact that corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure is not part of any education curriculum indicates that educators at every level know that corporal punishment has no place in the classroom. Discipline can and should be taught be example. Most leading professional associations oppose corporal punishment in all its forms. The reason why is that they feel it causes irreparable emotional damage to young people. I learned years ago about corporal punishment from a man who was an expert in the field. I co-founded a high school in Nassau, Bahamas in 1994.  In the Bahamas, beating children was, and still, is an accepted disciplinary method in the home and in the school. Our solution was to develop a Code of Discipline which basically penalized unacceptable behavior according to the severity of the infraction. Most private schools frown on the use of corporal punishment. Most schools have found more enlightened and effective methods for dealing with disciplinary issues.