Indiana Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws

Corporal punishment refers to physical discipline, such as paddling or spanking. While a majority of states have banned corporal punishment in public schools, Indiana allows teachers and school staff to “take any action that is reasonably necessary to carry out or to prevent an interference with an educational function that the person supervises.” As the state sees it, when it comes to matters of supervision and discipline, school personnel stand in the same relation to the students as their parents or guardians.

Corporal Punishment Statutes in Indiana

Indiana’s corporal punishment in public schools statute is highlighted in the table below.

Code Section

20-8.1-5.1-3

Punishment Allowed

Teachers can take disciplinary action necessary to promote orderly student conduct.

Circumstances Allowable

-

The United States has had a long history of public school discipline, going from one extreme to the other as our societal attitudes toward corporal punishment have shifted back and forth. Starting with public schools in the middle of the nineteenth century, American educators generally relied on European models of discipline that suggested that the best learning occurred when paired with encouragement and kindness and urged against corporal punishment being used for academic errors.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, however, when the model classroom had well-disciplined students sitting quietly and learning by rote and repetition, teachers controlling student behavior while transferring information became more prominent. For the most part, this continues to be the model that shapes most current concepts regarding classroom activities and goals.

In the 1990s and 2000s, media coverage shifted to focus on juveniles committing serious crimes on and off school property, and schools were portrayed as virtual war zones. The response from many people was to advocate for an even more stringent form of student control, popularly referred to as “zero tolerance” policies. Meanwhile, many schools shifted their disciplinary focus to rewarding students for good performance and away from punishing students for bad behavior, relying on emerging theories on discipline and punishment.

Recently, many modern administrators have sought to help students understand and change their behavior rather than handing out customary punitive consequences for violating school rules. This movement towards working with students to change their own behavior and away from harsh punishment has led many states and school districts to reexamine the way they handle school disciplinary issues.

Indiana Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws: Related Resources

State education laws can vary based on district and are subject to change. If you would like to consult with an attorney regarding an education case, you can contact an Indiana education attorney in your area. You can also visit FindLaw's School Discipline section for more articles and resources.

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