After a video showing the paddling of a 5-year-old boy by a Georgia principal over bad behavior at his school went viral, questions arose over the use of corporal punishment in education and whether it is legal in our area.
Opinions on using corporal punishment as a legitimate way to correct children for bad behavior range from 'definite no' to 'absolutely fine' and everywhere in between.
A 2013 Harris Poll found that 81 percent of American parents believed spanking their children was sometimes appropriate, while 19 percent believed it was never appropriate.
Using corporal punishment on children is legal in the United States, but statutes vary from state to state.
Nineteen states allow corporal punishment in schools, but all have guidelines on when it is OK, and most require that schools gain consent from the parent before punishing the child.
In Georgia, where the video was taken, corporal punishment is allowed in schools. In a statement given by the Jasper County School District, the school says corporal punishment is permitted "as one of the consequences of behavior," and adds that when it is used "it is with parental consent."
When it comes to our area, both Pennsylvania and New Jersey prohibit the use of corporal punishment in schools. Laws in both states allow school authorities to use reasonable force under certain circumstances, such as to obtain possession of weapons or in self-defense, but not as a form of discipline for typical behavior issues.
Delaware is well known for its adoption of a law that bans corporal punishment on children not only in schools, but also by their own parents. The law defines "physical injury" to include pain and prohibits any act that is likely to cause physical injury to a child.
The states where corporal punishment in schools is legal are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.