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Corporal Punishment in Schools

When you were a child, did your school principal sometimes paddle students who misbehaved? Or were youngsters slapped with an open hand or struck with a strap or ruler at school?

Physical punishment remains a part of the disciplinary policy of many schools, sanctioned by laws in twenty-three states. At least 470,000 students were subjected to corporal punishment during the 1993-94 school year, according to the most recent statistics avail­able.

Nevertheless, studies consistently show that physical punish­ment of school-age children is not effective. The American Acad­emy of Pediatrics believes that corporal punishment can actually have a negative influence upon a child's self-image and thus inter­fere with his academic achievement. Punishment does not teach more appropriate behavior or self-discipline and may even cause a youngster to behave more aggressively and violently. Antisocial be­havior is lowest among children who have never been spanked.

In a very limited number of circumstances a principal or other school official may need to physically restrain a student to protect that child or other students from physical injury or to prevent prop­erty damage. The Academy is working to encourage school boards and legislatures to ban corporal punishment in the schools of all states and to adopt alternative approaches for managing student behavior.

Last Updated
Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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