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South Carolina Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws

Corporal punishment refers to physical discipline, which in the school context, generally means paddling or spanking. The majority of states have banned corporal punishment in public schools. However, the Palmetto State still permits school boards to allow for corporal punishment where it is deemed just and proper. Here are the basics of corporal punishment in public schools laws in South Carolina.

Corporal Punishment Statutes in South Carolina

The chart below highlights some of South Carolina’s corporal punishment statutes.

Code Section

South Carolina Code of Laws 59-63-260: Corporal Punishment

Punishment Allowed

The governing body of each school district may provide corporal punishment for any pupil that it deems just and proper.

Circumstances Allowable


Corporal Punishment in American Schools

There is a long history of public school discipline in the United States with the pendulum of public perception swinging from one end of the ideological spectrum to the other. Societal attitudes toward physical punishment have shifted over the years, beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century when American public school educators generally modeled their discipline on European examples. These early examples urged against corporal punishment being used for academic errors and instead preferred pairing learning with encouragement and kindness. The ideal classroom at the start of the twentieth century, on the other hand, consisted of well-disciplined students sitting quietly and learning by rote and repetition, and teachers were more often tasked with controlling student behavior while transferring information. To a large extent, this is the model that continues to shape the majority of our current concepts regarding classroom activities and goals today.

More recently, media coverage has shifted to focus on juveniles committing serious crimes on and off school property and schools have been described as veritable war zones. The response from many people in the 1990s and 2000s was to advocate for even more stringent forms of student control, leading to regulations that were popularly referred to as “zero tolerance” policies. In the face of this disciplinary shift, many schools were alternatively relying on emerging theories on discipline and punishment and shifting their focus away from punishing students for bad behavior and to rewarding students for good performance. As noted above, many states and local school districts have moved away from harsh punishment, banning corporal punishment altogether.

South Carolina Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws: Related Resources

While South Carolina’s statute may appear simple, interpreting state education statutes can be difficult. For more articles and resources on this topic, you can visit FindLaw's School Discipline section. If you would like legal assistance regarding an education matter, you can contact a South Carolina education attorney.

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