Legal consequences of resisting corporal punishment?

This article got me thinking, what happens if/when a student physically resists or even violently fights back? Can the student be arrested and charged with a crime? What about the staff member; if they have to use more force to defend themselves tan allowed for CP could they be charged with a crime? What about civil liability; could the staff member sue the student parents if they’re injured, or the school’s insurance cover it? What’s the school’s liability if despite what safeguards in place they injure the student or some mix up mix up parental consent paperwork or notification? For that matter if a parent/guardian is administering CP and their own child (who could be as old as 17) fights back can they have the child arrested for assault?

Just armchair-legalizing here, but I’d say any student in any government school who fights back against any intervention by an adult in the school’s employ, regardless of how just or unjust the adult’s actions, is going to have a tough nut to crack legally.

I’m not aware of the laws as regard children that old and fighting back against unjust punishment. My mother old me decades ago, back when she worked in Illinois’ Child Protective Services, that in some cases the children who were old enough to fight back were encouraged to defend themselves, but this refers to violent abuse and not run-of-the-mill spanking. I’m not here to debate whether or not spanking is violent abuse.

It seems to me that if a child resists corporal punishment (i.e refuses to “bend over and take it like a man” so to speak) then the next step is expulsion. This is no different than the child who is loud and disruptive and will not obey an order to sit down and shut up. At a certain point, they get removed.

I suppose in a more prison-like setting (“reform school”) failure to obey reasonable orders can result in physical force to restrain - no different than resisting arrest; with the accompanying problem (like in “resisting arrest”) when is force appropriate and how much. Nobody is allowed to inflict physical violence simply for their own enjoyment or as retribution for the victim’s actions.

I supposed, remembering my early days when my parents paid the school for the privilege of me being paddles or strapped every so often - generally corporal punishment includes the consent of the punishee, because they know that more interesting non-physical consequences will follow if they refuse. And of course, I never told my parents when I got it because I’d probably get it again at home.

One of the clergy who taught at the school mentioned his time at the reform school also run by the order. He was a boxer before he found Jesus, and he mentioned that if he caught two inmates fighting, they would take them to the gym, have them put on boxing gloves, and fight properly. The, if the wrong person won the fight, he would put on gloves too and give the winner a proper boxing lesson to reinforce the learning experience.

Mind you, the reform school was in the news long after that for the same reason many Catholic institutions were in the news, but also for complaints of excessive corporal punishment.

It’s a pretty good question by the OP. In any other situation where someone (adult or otherwise) threatened a child with physical pain in most parts of the country the child would have the right to defend themselves against it. Here we are talking about inflicting physical pain as punishment where no due process has occurred.

At 17 I probably would have had my dukes up and yelled “like hell you’re spanking me” (unless, of course, it was an attractive female teacher.) I wonder if the states that allow this have stipulations for these circumstances.

They’d better, or they’ll be facing very pissed off parents who aren’t afraid to escalate.

As with all education questions, it’s state-by-state, but the ones I’m aware of require parent permission before inflicting corporal punishment.

But if it’s legal in the state and if a parent gives permission and if a school decides to follow through and if you find an educator willing to carry it out, the student is probably SOL for resisting the punishment, and it’ll escalate to the next level of disciplinary action. Same as refusing to comply with any other lawful action on the part of the school.

ETA: I didn’t answer the OP’s question directly, but as I can best see it, “violently fighting back against lawful corporal punishment” is no different than “violently fighting back against having to line up to get lunch.”

I mean, it’s fucking stupid. Corporal punishment in schools is fucking stupid. I’ve never known an educator who longs for the good ol’ days of beating kids to keep them in line.

Not quite the same but when my wife was teaching special education she occasionally had to deal with physically aggressive adolescent students who were bigger than her. She of course had the right to defend herself against a student who decided to violently resist discipline. Of course the school would have held the appropriate hearings, taken statements and all that to ensure due process.

My wife never had a student escalate to a physical attack so I can talk about lawsuits or next steps.

There is a school district in Missouri that just re-introduced corporal punishment, but only the school principal is allowed to administer the spankings - probably to ensure a classroom confrontation doesn’t escalate out of control, as well as to ensure that all the paperwork is being followed.

When I was in junior high school in the mid-1970s, a student of around 15 fought back against a teacher who was paddling him. The student got some licks in, and was sent to reform school for several months and never returned to the school. His family eventually moved out of the area.

Complicating things: the student was black, and the teacher white. This was in West Virginia. The student was big for his age, and had been in plenty of fights with other students. Had he been five years younger, it would have been more clearly a case of an adult disciplining a child, and less asking a young black man to submit to a whipping from a white man.


This is getting a little too Penthouse Letters for this forum. Knock it off.

I suspect that under in loco parentis that fighting back is unlawful even if justified, kind of like when the cop makes up a bullshit law that doesn’t exist and you resist arrest, you are still committing a crime even though you are technically being arrested .

Ooops technically being kidnapped.

In answer to the OP, in Canada, corporal punishment of a teenager is a criminal offence, so fighting back would be reasonable self-defence.

You darn Canadians and your darn reasonable legal system! :wink: Always making us more southerly idjits look like the idjits we collectively are. Or at least that over half our gerrymandered voting power are.

Does that include parents?

So it’s ok to hit a child but not one that might be able to fight back?

Erm, corporal punishment in school is still legal in the US? Wow.

Do that in the UK, and the teacher ends up out of a job and in court.

Yeah, apparently so. Here’s a write-up I found from a few days ago, from ABC News:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that corporal punishment is constitutional and left it up to states to set their own policies. Craven said 19 states, many in the South, have laws allowing it in schools. The most current data from 2017-18 shows about 70,000 children in the U.S. were hit at least once in their schools.

To be fair, and maybe it was the tenor of the times, but in my experience by the time a student was old enough or big enough to be able to fight back the time for physical punishment was past. The helicopter laws came along later.

A common observation among my peers in the 1960’s was the same as me - we never told our parents, or we would have gotten it twice as bad at home. By the time many of my peers had become teachers, the tide had turned and they more had to deal with students whose parents would scream up and down that their little Johnny would never do anything wrong and any punishment (not corporal) that the teacher gave was wholly undeserved.

I agree that this has been a major change in the teaching profession. As a child the teacher was right (except under rare circumstances) and a parent would support them. Now a parent is more likely to support their child and may not even listen to
the evidence.

Depends on the state. For example California corporal punishment is illegal even to the point where when that punk wrote on the desk so you have them clean every desk in the class - you just broke the law since that extra work is corporal punishment. When I was in Arizona corporal punishment was legal (maybe still is) and a teacher down the hall would have students do pushups in the hall for being late - 5 pushups for every minute tardy.

It’s not just Canada, it’s the civilized world - all of Europe, New Zealand, even South Africa. Hell, many of those also outlaw it at home, too (but not Canada, AFAIK).

I don’t know of a place where it’s illegal at home but legal at school.