American Public Health Association Policy Resolution on Corporal Punishment
Approved by the Governing Council, November 7, 1979

Defining corporal punishment as the infliction of bodily pain as a penalty for behavior disapproved by the punisher; and

Recognizing that children comprise a large minority in our society who are still subject to corporal punishment, and who may be beaten without explanation or due process of law for an unspecified list of infractions and mistakes; and

Acknowledging the great body of psychological data indicating that corporal punishment impairs the development of children toward their optimum potential as socially responsible adults; actually interferes with the process of learning which is the main goal of educational systems; and increases the likelihood of vandalism and student aggression within the schools; and

Acknowledging the significant clinical evidence that corporal punishment of children may be a causal factor underlying abusive behavior during adulthood; and

Recognizing that physical abuse of persons incapable of protecting themselves is antithetical to the values of a democratic society, constitutes coercive use of power, and is symptomatic of larger social problems which victimize teachers and school administrators as well as students; therefore

1. Joins other professional organizations in opposing the use of corporal punishment in schools and all other institutions, public and private, where children are cared for or educated;

2. Urges attention to the social forces and structures which cause teachers and other institutional personnel to resort to corporal punishment;

3. Supports the development and implementation of programs to educate teachers in positive approaches to student discipline;

4. Favors legislation comparable to that already adopted by the states of New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Hawaii and many cities, which outlaws corporal punishment of children in schools and institutions;

5. Will work actively toward the passage of legislation banning corporal punishment in schools and institutions through testifying before appropriate legislative committees, cooperating with other associations concerned with this issue, or other means consistent with the policies of the Association.

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