August 1, 2021

What’s the Global Perspective on Corporal Punishment?

Criminal law


The physical intentional infliction leading to pain due to changing behavior pattern is called corporal punishment. Such physical inflictions can be in the form of punching, hitting, slapping, shoving, choking or also by using various objects such as belts, sticks, pins while causing the pain. It can also be in the form of using electric shock, false imprisonment, or prevention of urine.

Corporal punishment is defined by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC) as any “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light”[1]

Today we are going to discuss how corporal punishments have become a global problem for children in schools. The world is against such kind of punishments and it has also led to several lawsuits. Any form of pain or harm is unfair. This holds true especially when the victim is a young, weak and helpless. Just imagine the trauma they undergo undergoes. The child is who is always dependent on the adult, develops fear when that adult mistreats or threatens. The world needs to realize that corporal punishment is experienced by children in the same way that other human rights violations are experienced by adults.[2]

Corporal Punishment in Schools

Corporal punishment continues to happen in the world even today. Even in countries where its banned, it still occurs. The new government of South Africa banned school corporal punishment in 1996. However, students have reported that corporal punishment continues to be a regular part of education in South Africa.[3] It is extremely troubling that virtually all children in almost every country are subject to corporal punishment in schools. Corporal punishment has been a human right issue and thus any form of such punishments to kids is prohibited.

Several treaties and conventions have effectively denied such punishments and created laws into effect. U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (Committee) speaks immensely on corporal punishment to children.[4] The Committee on the Rights of the Child is the body officially designated to monitor compliance with the Convention and, in so doing, issues authoritative interpretations of its provisions. The Committee has taken the position that the Children’s Convention as whole is inconsistent with corporal punishment of children. In fact, the Children’s Convention contains at least eight specific provisions that are inconsistent with spanking.[5] In India, children in rural as well as urban areas, have reported corporal punishment despite of laws.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, specifically prohibits corporal punishment in school. Several states such as Andhra Pradesh prohibited corporal punishments in 2002 after amending the Andhra Pradesh Integrated Educational Rules of 1966.[6] Studies show that corporal punishments reporting have been on an increase no matter public or private school. A study by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (2012) across seven states found that three quarters of children had been beaten with a cane.[7] Research shows that such punishments are more commonly seen on young children such as 15 and below.

This raises a fundamental concern about our schools, teachers and how they manage children. Situation of children studying in government schools is simply worse. It has been reported that teachers in government school have used cruel method of punishments such as banging the child’s head against a wall. Sometimes, these teachers often verbally abuse indigenous children on their parents’ poverty as well.


The United Nations to ensure child safety has always called on countries to ban corporal punishment in schools. Legal bans on school corporal punishment, and ideally on all corporal punishment of children in any setting, would be welcome steps toward ensuring children’s safety and well-being in school settings. Teachers need to maintain a decorum and effective communication wherein they respect the students. Schools need to cordially present themselves and create an atmosphere which is student friendly.

The environment should clearly state that children are valued and that they will be understood. The emphasis is on positive educational exchanges between teachers and students, not futile, contentious, win–lose contests. If required, teachers should receive necessary training in maintaining classroom control without relying on violent measures. Schools should have an ample supply of counselors, especially for younger children. Also, schools need to have in-school suspension facilities for students requiring such measures. Schools’ policies need to allow for a wide variety of teaching and disciplinary methods that de-emphasize the necessity for corporal punishment. The input of parents and students into such policies is critical to its overall success.


[1]Heekes & Kruger, “ When the Rod Spoils the Child: A Systematic Review of Corporal Punishment in Schools Globally”, available at sites/default/files/image_tool/image s/117/Logos/thesis/Heekes%20an%20Kruger.pdf.

[2] Susan H. Bitensky, Spare the Rod, Embrace Human Rights: International Law’s Mandate Against All Corporal Punishment of Children, 21 Whittier L. Rev. 147 (1999-2000), available at le=1001&context=facpubs.

[3] Elizabeth T. Gershoff (2017), “School corporal punishment in global perspective: prevalence, outcomes, and efforts at intervention, Psychology, Health & Medicine”, 22:sup1, 224-239, available at 48506.2016.1271955.

[4] UNICEF, “Corporal Punishments in Schools-Longitudinal Evidence from Ethiopia, India Peru and Viet Nam”, available at

[5] Susan H. Bitensky, Spare the Rod, Embrace Human Rights: International Law’s Mandate Against All Corporal Punishment of Children, 21 Whittier L. Rev. 147 (1999-2000), available at u/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?artic le=1001&context=facpubs.

[6] Supra note 4.

[7] Rana Prerit, “Corporal Punishment of India’s School Children”, available at

Author Details: Prachi Shah


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