What the law says about corporal punishment
In the United States, corporal punishment of minors for purposes of punishing unacceptable behavior is subject to varying legal limits, depending on the state. This kind of punishment is frequently used for toddler-age children and continue also to be used frequently into children’s adolescence.
More than a third of parents in the United States confirm the fact that they use punishment on children. Statistics show that 85% of the American children have been physically punished by their parents. It is defined as the use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain to correct their misbehavior.
The majority of states allow physical punishment by parents
However, the approach varies from state to state. Examples of law permitting bodily punishment of children include two different articles of the Minnesota Legislature allowing parents and teachers to use corporal punishment as a form of discipline by creating explicit exceptions to the state’s child abuse statutes for “reasonable and moderate physical discipline.” In 2008, the Minnesota Supreme Court faced a case that involved a man who struck his 12 years old son 36 blows with a maple paddle. The trial court held that this was abuse but was reversed on appeal.
The line between permitted corporal punishment and punishment legally defined as abuse varies by state and is not always clear.
The Supreme Court of Minnesota stated:
“We are unwilling to establish a bright-line rule that the infliction of any pain constitutes either physical injury or physical abuse, because to do so would effectively prohibit all corporal punishment of children by their parents… [and] it is clear to us that the Legislature did not intend to ban corporal punishment.“
As mentioned above, regulation of corporal punishment in public and private schools is established at state level
Further, there is no federal regulation regarding the corporal punishment in schools. In this regard, the Supreme Court of the United States found that the Eight Amendment that prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments” does not apply to school students and therefore parents and teachers can punish children.
This kind of punishment is currently legal in 19 states in the United States. These states are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming. Even when corporal punishment is legally permitted in a state, school district superintendents and individual school principals within districts can decide whether to use this kind of punishment as a form of discipline.
School corporal punishment has received attention at federal level
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice issued a report, Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline, that summarized racial disparities in suspensions and expulsions. However, no information was presented on corporal punishment, and the only mention of corporal punishment was a brief remark that it has the potential to be used in a discriminatory fashion, leaving this aspect to the discretion of each state.
Contact us, your business attorney in Florida, to help you better understand what the law says about corporal punishment and assist you with your legal needs.