A Social Science Analysis of Evidence Cited in Litigation on Corporal Punishment in the Schools
Irwin A. Hyman
During the twentieth century American society through its judicial and educational establishments has recognized increasingly that children are citizens. While parents' and citizens' groups have lobbied and worked for reform legislation, there is little question that the judicial system has aided in the recognition of the rights of children. However, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Nixon appointees to the Supreme Court, in concurrence with earlier conservative appointees, has moved away from the recognition of children's rights as citizens within the context of the public schools. Perhaps one of the most far-reaching decisions in the current backward spiral of the Supreme Court attitude occurred on April 19, 1977, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment did not apply to the use of corporal punishment on public school children. In the case of Ingraham v. Wright, 45 L.W. 4364, the Supreme Court not only refused protection (under the Constitution) for children against corporal punishment but they held that the due process clause of the Constitution does not require notice and hearing prior to the imposition of corporal punishment. The minority opinion written by Justices White, Brennan, Marshall, and Stevens outlines the obvious legal inconsistencies apparent in the majority opinion.
The legal and educational implications of the Supreme Court decision in Ingraham v. Wright have far-reaching effects. However, the purpose of
This essay was presented as a paper at the 55th Annual Meeting of the American Orthopsychiatric Association, San Francisco, California, March 31, 1978.