Debate: Corporal Punishment

Corporal punishment is the use of physical force to discipline a child. It can include spanking, paddling, or other forms of physical pain.

Debate: Corporal Punishment
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In some states in the United States, it is still legal for teachers to use corporal punishment on students. According to an article from The Economist, corporal punishment in public schools is legal in 19 American states; in private school it is permitted in all but two1. In Mississippi, for example, a first-time dress code infraction, public display of affection, repeated tardiness or failure to hand in homework three times in nine weeks makes children eligible for corporal punishment1. However, the use of corporal punishment in schools is a controversial issue and there are many people who oppose it.  According to the World Health Organization, around 60% of children aged 2-14 years regularly suffer physical punishment by their parents or other caregivers, and in some countries, almost all students report being physically punished by school staff1. Corporal punishment is legally prohibited in schools in 128 countries and allowed in 69 (35%)2. It is banned in all of Europe and most of South America and East Asia2. In comparison, the United States is one of the few developed countries where corporal punishment is still legal in some states. [Source: Bing - Edited]


Corporal punishment is the use of physical force to discipline a child. It can include spanking, paddling, or other forms of physical pain.

Corporal punishment is a controversial issue. Some people believe that it is an effective way to deter bad behavior, while others believe that it is harmful and can have negative consequences.

There is no clear consensus on whether or not corporal punishment is effective. Some studies have found that it can be effective in deterring bad behavior, while others have found that it can have negative consequences such as increased aggression, decreased self-esteem, and difficulty forming relationships.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to support the use of corporal punishment is a personal one. There is no right or wrong answer. However, it is important to be informed about the issue and to consider all of the different perspectives before making a decision.

Discussion Questions

Choose a couple of questions to discuss in your group. You won't have time to answer them all.

  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of using corporal punishment in schools? Consider the effects on students’ academic performance, behavior, mental health, and human rights.
  • How do you feel about the fact that corporal punishment is still legal in some states in the United States? Do you think it should be banned or regulated? Why or why not?
  • How does the culture and history of a country influence its attitude towards corporal punishment? Compare and contrast the views of different countries or regions on this issue.
  • What are some alternative ways to discipline students without using physical violence? How can teachers, parents, and school administrators promote a positive and respectful learning environment?
  • If you believe corporal punishment is harmful, how can people raise awareness and educate the public about the harms of corporal punishment? What role can the media, the government, and civil society play in this process?
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Further Reading

Missouri school district allows parents to opt in to corporal punishment of their children
The Cassville R-IV School District is letting parents choose whether district personnel can physically discipline their students.
Corporal punishment and health
Corporal or physical punishment is highly prevalent globally, both in homes and schools. Evidence shows that it is linked to a range of both short- and long-term negative outcomes for children across countries and cultures. Rather than being an effective method to improve child behaviour, corporal p…

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