PMC, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
School corporal punishment is currently legal in 19 states, and over 160,000 children in these states are subject to corporal punishment in schools each year. Given that the use of school corporal punishment is heavily concentrated in Southern states, and that the federal government has not included corporal punishment in its recent initiatives about improving school discipline, public knowledge of this issue is limited. The aim of this policy report is to fill the gap in knowledge about school corporal punishment by describing the prevalence and geographic dispersion of corporal punishment in U.S. public schools and by assessing the extent to which schools disproportionately apply corporal punishment to children who are Black, to boys, and to children with disabilities. This policy report is the first-ever effort to describe the prevalence of and disparities in the use of school corporal punishment at the school and school-district levels. We end the report by summarizing sources of concern about school corporal punishment, reviewing state policies related to school corporal punishment, and discussing the future of school corporal punishment in state and federal policy.