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Corporal Punishment in Schools: Reading the Law. Monograph Series, No. 48.thumbnail of book cover

Ronald Hyman and Charles Rathbone, ISBN 1-56534-076-0, 83 pages, $26.00


Views about corporal punishment in schools are changing. Some seek a return to accountability, authority, and increased order in schools, while others seek to make schools a sanctuary from social violence, especially violence against children. Local school boards often are criticized as being too lenient or too severe, and more state legislatures are reassessing laws governing corporal punishment. Legal, educational, and social issues surround the use of corporal punishment.

Discretion on corporal punishment is usually left up to local school boards, since federal courts and statutes provide little guidance on the subject and states often only give parameters within which schools must operate. This monograph examines the themes that form corporal punishment policy and the laws that govern its implementation. Part I introduces the major legal, social, and educational themes that surround corporal punishment, and the constitutional challenges to corporal punishment.

Part II offers an approach for analyzing regulatory language. It examines definitional problems and questions that arise concerning separate issues as corporal-punishment policy is codified. A state-by-state list of applicable state statutes and selected cases is included.


Table of Contents


Part I Major Issues and Continuing Questions


Legal Issues

1. Protection against cruel and unusual punishment

2. Substantive due process: the protection of liberty and property interests

3. Procedural due process: the right to notice and to a hearing

4. Equal protection under the law: the claim of discrimination

6. Civil tort claims for excessive punishment

7. Criminal charges for excessive punishment

Educational and Social Issues

1. Should there be a national policy on corporal punishment?

2. Where corporal punishment is allowed, who should police its administration?

3. What is the proper role of the school in a changing society?

4. As changes occur in corporal punishment policy, where are the likely sources of power and leadership?

5. What is the rightful position of children in American society, and how can corporal punishment policy best reflect this position?

Part II: Reading the Law: Preliminary Questions

Definitional Difficulties

Analytical Questions

A. Legal Authority and Rationale for Corporal Punishment Policy

B. Issues Involving the Actual Procedures Employed during Administration of Corporal Punishment

C. Consequences to the Punisher: Liabilities and the the Professor


State Statues and Selected Cases

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