Pennsylvania Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws

Each state has laws that govern whether corporal punishment -- which is hitting, spanking, or paddling as a means of discipline -- is allowed in public schools. Most states prohibit the use of corporal punishment in most states. In Pennsylvania, corporal punishment in public schools is not allowed. However, such use of force is allowed if required to quell a disturbance or protect others from harm.

Corporal Punishment Statutes in Pennsylvania

The basic provisions of Pennsylvania's corporal punishment in public schools laws are listed in the following table.

Code Section

No statutory provisions

Punishment Allowed

-

Circumstances Allowable

-

The history of public school discipline in the United States has included swings from one extreme to the other, as social attitudes toward corporal punishment and other, non-physical approaches have shifted back and forth. During the rise of public education in the middle of the nineteenth century, U.S. educators relied on European models of discipline that urged that corporal punishment was not be used for academic errors and instead suggested that learning occurred best with encouragement and kindness. Later, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the model classroom focused on well-disciplined students sitting quietly while they learned by rote. Education during this era was seen as a process of controlling student behavior while information was transferred from teacher to student. To a large extent, this model continues to shape concepts about classroom activities and goals.

In the 1990s and 2000s, media coverage of juveniles committing serious felonies on school property portrayed schools as war zones, causing many people to advocate for a return to more stringent controls of students, sometimes referred to as “zero tolerance.” At the same time, emerging theories on discipline and punishment have led many schools to shift their disciplinary focus from punishing students for bad behavior to rewarding students for meeting or exceeding school administrators' expectations. Modern administrators now look at disciplinary situations as "teachable moments" and seek to help students understand and change their behavior rather than handing out standard punitive consequences if students break school rules. This idea of working with students to change their own behavior rather than punishing them has led some states and school districts to reexamine the way they handle disciplinary issues at school.

Pennsylvania Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws: Related Resources

State laws on education are constantly changing. If you think you would like legal assistance with an education issue, you can contact a Pennsylvania education attorney in your area. You can also visit FindLaw's School Discipline section to learn more.

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