Legal implications of teachers’ role in students’ discipline


MOSES CELESTINE gives insights into what teachers should consider before deciding to punish their students.

The teacher is expected to work within the ambit of the rules, regulations, laws or Acts that govern the practice of his/her profession. According to Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (2005), teachers are bound to be liable for any acts or omissions that run contrary to professional standards or fall short of commonly held values, acceptable practices and norms. Thus, the teacher will be held liable and proceeded against for any act, omission or negligence that infringes on the rights of pupils/students.

Recent times, some private schools had witnessed teachers inflicting dangerous and hard punishments on pupils/students without minding or considering the legal implications. As a result of this act, police officers had visited schools to arrest teachers at the instance of the child’s parents. Also, parents had visited schools to harass and embarrass teachers for been cruel and hostile towards their children.

Though, the teacher is legally and professionally bound to exercise his/her powers and discharge his/her duties honestly, in good faith, with utmost care, diligence and skills.

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Discipline Control Tests

The discipline must pass the following control tests by a teacher:

1) It must be reasonable

This is relative, as what is reasonable in one instance may not be in another.

2) It must be related to the gravity of the offence i.e not excessive.

3) It must not be administered with malice.

4) Its purpose must be defensible i.e not to inflict physical or internal injury on the pupil/student.

5) It must be related to the age, sex, size, mental, physical and emotional stage of development of the pupil/student.

Forms of Discipline and Punishments in Classroom

The following forms of punishments may be considered by the teacher:

1) Verbal warning

2) Simple Punishment

3) Isolation

4) Denial

5) Academic Punishment

6) Any other form of punishment that may be initiated by the teacher except corporal punishment.

The use of cane is now getting outdated as it is considered a corporal punishment.

What is a Corporal Punishment?

In a simple term, it is any punishment that causes physical and internal injury to the body of the pupil/student.

Likely Factors to Consider Before Punishing a pupil/student

1) The Age

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2) Health Condition

3) Mental Fitness

4) Physical Fitness


Conclusively, in order to avoid parents harassment, police case and litigation, punishing a child should be professionally, diplomatically and reasonably done.

Punishment should be Corrective not Vindictive…


Thank you.

Moses Celestine


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