Corporal punishment -- the use of physical force to discipline -- is regulated at the state level. Some states permit corporal punishment in public schools -- including Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina -- but New York and the majority of states do not. In fact, public school teachers in New York may be charged with child abuse or assault and battery for spanking students.
Reference the code section below to learn more about New York corporal punishment laws. See State Laws Regarding Corporal Punishment to learn more.
|Code Section||No statutory provisions|
|Punishment Allowed||See below|
|Circumstances Allowable||See below|
New York's prohibition on corporal punishment is only limited to public schools. This means that some private schools may be allowed to use corporal punishment. Because New York does not have a law that allows private schools to use corporal punishment, parents may have to consent to this form of punishment through a waiver when the child enrolls with the school. However, just because a parent signs a waiver does not mean that excessive or severe forms of corporal punishment are always allowed.
If a child is punished using physical force, one of the claims the child or parent may be able to make against the teacher, school employee, or the school, is assault. Assault is defined as an attempt or threat to inflict injury, paired with the victim's apprehension of injury. This means that a teacher or school employee can assault a child by only threatening to use corporal punishment, or raising a hand at the child.
Battery is an intentional tort normally defined as an unwanted touching. The victim does not actually have to feel pain, but the unwanted touching has to be bad enough that a normal person would be offended. The person committing the battery doesn't have to touch the victim directly, but can commit the battery by pulling on clothes, or grabbing a backpack.
New York law allows a victim to sue an employer for harm caused by an employee when the harm was caused in the scope of the employee's employment. This is called a vicarious liability. If a teacher used physical force to punish a student, and the teacher was acting within the scope of their employment, the student and parents may have a claim against the school as well as the teacher.
If you would like to know more about New York's laws on corporal punishment in public schools, there are many education law attorneys throughout the state who may be able to help. If you believe that your child has been punished in this way by a teacher or other school employee, you may wish to speak with a New York personal injury attorney to discuss the possibility of a lawsuit, and the strength of your case.
Contact a qualified attorney.