School corporal punishment, a form of corporal punishment, covers official punishments of school students for misbehaviour that involve striking the student a given number of times in a generally methodical and premeditated ceremony. The punishment is usually administered either across the buttocks or on the hands, with an implement specially kept for the purpose such as a rattan cane, wooden paddle, slipper, leather strap or a wooden yardstick. Less commonly, it could also include spanking or smacking the student in a deliberate manner on a specific part of the body with the open hand, especially at the elementary school level.
Advocates of school corporal punishment argue that it provides an immediate response to indiscipline and that the student is quickly back in the classroom learning, rather than being suspended from school. Opponents believe that other disciplinary methods are equally or more effective. Some regard it as tantamount to violence or abuse.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, and generally in the English-speaking world, the use by schools of corporal punishment has historically been covered by the common law doctrine of in loco parentis, whereby a school has the same rights over minors as their parents.
In most places nowadays where it is allowed, corporal punishment in public schools is governed by official regulations laid down by governments or local education authorities, defining such things as the implement to be used, the number of strokes that may be administered, which members of staff may carry it out, and whether parents must be informed or consulted. Depending on how narrowly the regulations are drawn and how rigorously enforced, this has the effect of making the punishment a structured ceremony that is legally defensible in a given jurisdiction and of inhibiting staff from lashing out on the spur of the moment.
The first country in the world to prohibit corporal punishment was Poland, in 1783.
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