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Hawaii Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws

Once the norm in public schools, physical discipline (known also as “corporal punishment”) has been subject to increasing scrutiny in recent years. State laws can vary on whether and when public school administrators are permitted to hit, spank, or paddle students as a means of punishment.

So what do Aloha State laws have to say on the matter? This is a quick introduction to corporal punishment in public schools laws in Hawaii.

Corporal Punishment Statutes in Hawaii

Hawaii prohibits corporal punishment in public schools, and only allows school staff to use reasonable force to prevent a student from harming him or herself or another student. Hawaii’s corporal punishment in public schools statutes are listed below.

Code Section

Hawaii Revised Statutes 302A-1141: Punishment of Pupils

Punishment Allowed

Physical punishment may not be used, but a teacher may use reasonable force to restrain a student in attendance from hurting himself or any other person or property with other teacher present and out of other students' presence.

Circumstances Allowable

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History of Corporal Punishment in Public Schools

The United States has a long history of public school discipline. During this time, popular opinion has shifted, generally following public attitudes toward corporal punishment in general. Most U.S. educators in the middle of the 19th century employed European models of discipline that suggested learning occurred best with encouragement and kindness and discouraged physical punishment. At the beginning of the 1900s, this perspective began to shift as education was seen more as a process of controlling student behavior while information was conveyed from teachers to students and model classrooms were filled with well-disciplined students sitting attentively and learning by rote.

In the late 20th century, schools cracked down even farther, responding to media reports of juveniles committing serious felonies on school property by instituting “zero tolerance” behavior policies as a more rigorous attempt at student control. However, many schools during this same period looked to emerging theories on discipline and punishment that suggested rewarding students for meeting or exceeding educational expectations was more effective and shifted their focus away from punishing students for bad behavior.

Related Resources for Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws in Hawaii

State education laws, and how they deal with physical punishment, can be confusing. You can consult with an experienced Hawaii education attorney in your area if you would like legal help with an education matter. And FindLaw's section on School Discipline can provide you with further reading and resources on this topic.

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