The Advantages of Corporal Punishment in Schools

By Kristine Tucker
Punished school boy
Punished school boy

Even though some parents and school boards argue that corporal punishment has a negative effect on the learning environment, some believe there are advantages such as deterrence, immediacy, alignment with parents' discipline measures and lost cost. Advocates of corporal punishment insist that the methods must be safe, promote the welfare of students and meet guidelines established by the state board of education and the school's disciplinary policies and procedures. As of April 2015, corporal punishment at public schools is legal in 19 states, according to Gundersen National Child Protection Training Agency.

Deters Misconduct

Proponents of corporal punishment at school agree that a spanking or paddling administered by qualified teachers, administrators or coaches deters misconduct. According to Brian Wilson, author of “Counterpoint: The Benefits of Corporal Punishment," even the threat of physical punishment such as a displayed wooden paddle in a principal's office discourages disobedient or unruly conduct. Intimidation has a powerful effect on student behavior. Corporal punishment supporters believe that spanking or paddling offers a strong incentive for motivating students to stay in line.

Swift Administration

Corporal punishment is a swift and timely process. It doesn't involve lengthy after-school detentions or time-consuming, in-school suspensions. Principals, teachers and coaches can administer the punishment within a matter of seconds -- not including discussions before and after the punishment to remind students of policies concerning their misconduct. As a result, students don't have to spend days or hours stressing about the punishment. In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled in the Ingraham vs. Wright case that corporal punishment in schools is not cruel or unusual, according to CNN. In 2008, more than 30 years after that first ruling, the Supreme Court upheld its 1977 decision and refused to review a case where an 18-year-old claimed she was injured as a result of corporal punishment administered by her high school principal.

Aligns with Parents' Punishment at Home

Some parents who administer corporal punishment at home appreciate principals, teachers and school boards who do the same at school. They feel that this aligns with their own methods for encouraging and enforcing obedience. Dr. John Hancock, assistant superintendent of Temple schools in Texas, states that some parents believe corporal punishment at school reinforces the positive behavior they strive to achieve at home, according to CNN. Without corporal punishment at school, some parents feel there's a disconnect between what they're enforcing at home and what teachers are enforcing at school. They believe a unified discipline plan that allows for corporal punishment at school ultimately improves behavior, according to Hancock.

Low Cost

There's little or no cost associated with corporal punishment. Administrators don't have to hire staff to monitor suspensions or detentions. Spanking or paddling is typically administered in the principal's office during school hours. Teachers don't have to spend additional work hours -- adding to the payroll -- to read and grade punishment-oriented assignments. The cost of a wooden paddle is negligible and the administrative paperwork -- other than documentation of why, when, where and by whom the punishment was administered -- is minimal. In states that allow corporal punishment, individual school districts create their own rules governing the use of corporal punishment. Parents should consult with representatives of the school district or with their child's principal to review corporal punishment guidelines in their district, according to The Washington Post website.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.