The article discusses about corporal punishment laws in the United States and emphasizes the difference in approach on corporal punishment laws from state to state. Corporal punishment is banned in the United Sates’ military training and is no longer sentence for a crime. Also, it is prohibited in the Head Start programs and in most juvenile detention centers. Even if it was prohibited in all these circumstances, corporal punishment is still legal and possible in one place, schools. However, this is not permitted in all states; only some states adopted this approach. The statistics show that more than 100,000 children were corporally punished at public schools during the 2013-2014 school year.
It is important, however, to identify whether the domestic legislation contains a legal defense to the use of corporal punishment
All states have laws making assault a criminal offence, but in many states the law affirms that parents or other people acting in the place of parents have the right to use “reasonable chastisement”, “lawful correction” or other similar defenses. In some states this is explicitly mentioned in the legislation, and in other states it is a rule established by case law.
Corporal punishment is still legal
Corporal punishment is legal in 19 states, mostly in the southern United States. Besides this, it is also legal in some private schools in 48 U.S. states. Legally, corporal punishment is defined as paddling, spanking, or other forms of physical punishment. The states that allow corporal punishment are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming (Center for Effective Discipline, 2015).
One can say this is a repercussion of a Supreme Court decision that is more than 40 years old. In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Ingraham v. Wright that corporal punishment in public schools is constitutional. This meant that each state could make its own rules when physically disciplining students.
Among the 19 states that allow corporal punishment for students, there are schools in some districts that reject physical punishment in favor of other forms of discipline. Moreover, some of these schools allow parents to opt out. In some locations, especially the rural areas, many parents find it culturally acceptable and prefer their children to receive corporal punishment for their educational beliefs. For instance, in North Carolina, which is a state that allows corporal punishment, the last remaining school district to allow such action, banned this activity in October 2018.
The topic is treated differently outside of the United States
The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child is the primary human rights instrument for children, and it has been ratified or acceded to by 196 countries, except for the United States. The obligation to prohibit all corporal punishment of children falls directly under articles 19, 28(2) and 37 of the Convention.
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