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Legislative measures to prohibit corporal punishment

This area of the website is designed to accompany the Global Initiative handbook Prohibiting corporal punishment of children: A guide to legal reform and other measures (December 2007), available here [LINK] as a pdf. These resources are also available as a separate pdf file here. We welcome further information about other legal and other resources to support prohibition: please email

Prohibition in schools


Corporal punishment is prohibited in legislation pertaining to child rights generally. Articles 40 and 41 of the Childhood and Adolescence Code (2003) address disciplinary methods and prohibited punishments in educational institutions:



Prohibition of school corporal punishment in Haiti is part of a more far reaching prohibition of corporal punishment which extends to most settings (though we have been unable to establish this includes the home). The Law prohibiting corporal punishment of children (2001) is reproduced here in its entirety (unofficial translation). It is notable for its definition of corporal punishment, which includes hitting or pushing, for mandating the establishment in a school (or other institution or organisation) of a discipline committee to oversee the implementation of a code of conduct, for providing for a variety of levels of redress when the prohibition is violated, including ministerial level.



Prohibition of corporal punishment is in the form of a prohibition of torture, cruel behaviour and humiliation together with a list of permitted disciplinary measures in education settings which excludes corporal punishment. Thus article 49 of the Law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child (1996, amended 2002) states:



The Family Code (1987) states that the parental authority granted teachers and carers does not extend to a right to use corporal punishment. Article 233 states:



The prohibition of corporal punishment in schools that had been in force for a number of years was reasserted when legislation concerning the whole spectrum of children’s rights was enacted. Corporal punishment in schools had been prohibited since 1948, and confirmed in the Education Law (article 157) and the Internal Regulations governing schools and care institutions (articles 5 and 9). In 2004, Law No. 272/2004 on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of the Child was enacted, which prohibited corporal punishment in all settings and again confirmed that this applied to schools. Article 28 states:

Article 48 clarifies that this prohibition of physical punishment applies to the educational process:

Article 90 emphasises the prohibition of physical punishment in all institutions, including educational settings:


South Africa

The prohibition of corporal punishment in schools is in primary legislation, and further details concerning school codes of conduct are given in guidance. The prohibition is found in article 10 of the South African Schools Act (1996, in force 1997), and leaves no doubt that the use of corporal punishment will be treated in law as assault:

The South African National Education Policy Act (1996) also contains the prohibition, stating in article 3 that “[n]o person shall administer corporal punishment, or subject a student to psychological or physical abuse at any educational institution”. Direction as to how schools should reflect the prohibition of corporal punishment in their codes of conduct in South Africa is produced in the form of guidance rather than in primary legislation. In 1998, Notice 776 pursuant to the Schools Act was published in the Government Gazette by the Department of Education, "Guidelines for the consideration of governing bodies in adopting a code of conduct for learners", directing those responsible for its drafting that "[t]he main focus of the Code of Conduct must be positive discipline; it must not be punitive and punishment oriented but facilitate constructive learning" (para 1.4). The full Guidelines are available at The sections on discipline and punishment are reproduced below:



Prohibition of corporal punishment was introduced when new education legislation generally was being enacted. The Education Act (2002) prohibits corporal punishment in the context of protecting students from harassment and injury by other students and by staff. It prescribes what should be included in a school’s code of behaviour, not only in terms of what should be prohibited but also specifying what should be promoted (e.g. “non-violent and non-discriminatory language and practices”). It ensures that corporal punishment may not be inflicted by any staff, and staff may not order other students to inflict corporal punishment. It also provides for the course of action that should be taken when the prohibition of corporal punishment is violated. The full text of article 40 states:


United Kingdom

The following extract is taken from section 548 of the Education Act (1996) as amended by section 131 of the School Standards and Framework Act (1998), and again makes it clear that there is no “right” for a member of educational staff to administer corporal punishment to a child in any location, and that this applies to acts which would otherwise constitute “battery” (assault). It clarifies that this does not apply to acts aimed at protecting persons or property:

The UK government Department for Education and Skills produced guidance on the legal framework for school discipline which governing bodies must by law have regard to when establishing school discipline policies and advising head teachers. In addition to reflecting the prohibition of corporal punishment, the school’s behaviour policy (para 2):

A checklist is available for use in creating and implementing the school behaviour policy. The Department also published guidance on dealing with signs of disaffection, which lists the sanctions for disruptive behaviour available in school:

A variety of documents relating to behaviour management in schools in England is provided by the General Teaching Council for England (