Corporal punishment in school


Many countries around the world have a very long tradition of administering corporal punishment to school pupils. Such punishments have typically been administered by a teacher or principal. In many countries, corporal punishment of pupils is still both legal and widely practised.


  • As of 2020, corporal punishment of pupils was illegal in 128 countries.
  • As of 2020, corporal punishment of pupils was illegal in all the European countries.
  • One of the first countries in the world to prohibit corporal punishment of pupils was Poland, where it was outlawed as early as 1783. In the Soviet Union, it was outlawed soon after the revolution of 1917.
  • Examples of countries outside Europe where it is illegal is Japan, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, and many of the South American countries.


Examples of organizations that have spoken out against corporal punishment of pupils

  • The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
  • The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
  • The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
  • The European Committee of Social Rights
  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
  • The American Medical Association
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics
  • The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • The American Psychological Association
  • The United States´s National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
  • The Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • The Canadian Paediatric Society
  • The Australian Psychological Society

2009 Cairo Declaration

The obligation of member states to prohibit corporal punishment in schools and elsewhere was affirmed in the 2009 Cairo Declaration on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Islamic Jurisprudence.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child

According to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, “children do not lose their human rights by virtue of passing through the school gates […] the use of corporal punishment does not respect the inherent dignity of the child nor the strict limits on school discipline.

Source: Committee on the Rights of the Child (2001). General Comment No. 1, The Aims of Education. U.N. Doc. CRC/GC/2001/1

The United Nations

Article 19 of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child:

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.