American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on Corporal Punishment in Schools, August 2000
P o l i c y S t a t e m e n t

PediatricsVolume 106, Number 02August 2000, p 343

Corporal Punishment in Schools (RE9754)


Committee on School Health

ABSTRACT. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that corporal punishment in schools be abolished in all states by law and that alternative forms of student behavior management be used.

It is estimated that corporal punishment is administered between 1 and 2 million times a year in schools in the United States.1 Increasingly, states are abolishing corporal punishment as a means of discipline, but statutes in some states still allow school officials to use this form of discipline.2-4

The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that corporal punishment may affect adversely a student's self-image and school achievement and that it may contribute to disruptive and violent student behavior.1,5-7 Alternative methods of behavioral management have proved more effective than corporal punishment and are specifically described in the reference articles.5-7 Physical force or constraint by a school official may be required in a limited number of carefully selected circumstances to protect students and staff from physical injury, to disarm a student, or to prevent property damage.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents, educators, school administrators, school board members, legislators, and others to seek the legal prohibition by all states of corporal punishment in schools and to encourage the use of alternative methods of managing student behavior.


Howard L. Taras, MD, Chairperson
David A. Cimino, MD
Jane W. McGrath, MD
Robert D. Murray, MD
Wayne A. Yankus, MD
Thomas L. Young, MD

Evan Pattishall III, MD
American School Health Association

Missy Fleming, PhD
American Medical Association

Maureen Glendon, RNCS, MSN, CRNP
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates and Practitioners

Lois Harrison-Jones, EdD
American Association of School Administrators

Linda Wolfe, RN, BSN, MEd, CSN
National Association of School Nurses

Jerald L. Newberry, MEd
National Education Association, Health Information Network

Mary Vernon, MD, MPH
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Paula Duncan, MD

Su Li, MPA


1. 1986-1987 Elementary and Secondary Schools Civil Rights Survey, National Summary of Projected Data. Washington, DC: Office of Civil Rights, US Department of Education; 1987
2. The National Center for the Study of Corporal Punishment and Alternatives. States Which Have Abolished Corporal Punishment as a Means of Discipline in the Schools. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University; 1994
3. Dolins JC, Christoffel KK. Reducing violent injuries: priorities for pediatrician advocacy. Pediatrics. 1994;94:638-651
4. 1990 Elementary Secondary School Civil Rights Survey, National State Summary of Projected Data. Washington, DC: Office of Civil Rights, US Department of Education; 1992
5. Poole SR, Ushkow MC, Nader PR, et al. The role of the pediatrician in abolishing corporal punishment in schools. Pediatrics. 1991;88:162-176
6. Hyman IA, Wise JH, eds. Corporal Punishment in American Education: Readings in History, Practice and Alternatives. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press; 1979
7. Hyman HA, McDowell E, Raines B. In: Wise JH, ed. Proceedings: Conference on Corporal Punishment in the Schools: A National Debate. Washington, DC: National Institute of Education; 1977

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