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Can a teacher touch your child?

Physical Contact: What it is and what the relevant laws are in NSW.

As a concerned parent or teacher, you might not be sure when it is ok or not for a teach to touch a child and if you have been charged with a criminal law offence involving teacher-student physical contact in New South Wales (NSW), it is essential to be well-informed about the legal aspects involved.

At Repute Law, we understand this issue’s significance and the potential consequences it can have on your life. In this blog, we will focus on the law on teacher-student physical contact in NSW, explore possible defences to police charges and highlight relevant case law. We will also explain why Repute Law is one of the best criminal law firms in Australia to support you through this challenging situation.

What is Physical Contact?

In NSW, the law takes a serious view of teacher-student physical contact, as it encompasses the delicate balance between discipline and the rights of the child. The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) governs offences involving physical contact.

Section 60E specifically deals with Assaults at schools but does not apply where reasonable disciplinary action was taken by a member of staff of a school against a student.

  1. A person who assaults, stalks, harasses or intimidates any school student or member of staff of a school while the student or member of staff is attending a school, although no actual bodily harm is occasioned, is liable to imprisonment for 5 years.
  2. A person who assaults a school student or member of staff of a school while the student or member of staff is attending a school and by the assault occasions actual bodily harm, is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.
  3. A person who by any means,
    1. wounds or causes grievous bodily harm to a school student or member of staff of a school while the student or member of staff is attending a school, and
    2. is reckless as to causing actual bodily harm to that student or member of staff or any other person, is liable to imprisonment for 12 years.
  4. A person who enters school premises with intent to commit an offence under another provision of this section is liable to imprisonment for 5 years.
  5. Nothing in subsection (1) applies to any reasonable disciplinary action taken by a member of staff of a school against a school student.


It is important to note that physical contact by a teacher with a student, even for disciplinary purposes, may fall within the scope of this offence, unless a Defence of lawful correction applies, Section 61AA of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) This defence allows reasonable and moderate physical force to be used by a teacher for the purpose of correction, discipline, or control of a student. The Court will consider various factors, including the nature and degree of force used, the age and maturity of the student and the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Courts have held that a teacher’s use of moderate physical force, such as a smack on the hand or buttocks, may fall within the scope of lawful correction if deemed reasonable in the circumstances.

Another crucial consideration is the NSW Department of Education’s guidelines on student discipline. The Department’s Code of Conduct for School Students emphasises the importance of maintaining a safe and respectful learning environment while providing disciplinary actions that are fair, reasonable and proportionate to the student’s behaviour.

At Repute Law, we understand the complexity of these cases and the need for experienced legal representation. We are proud to be one of the only law firms comprising entirely of court lawyers who are Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers. Our vast experience and extensive legal knowledge ensure you receive exceptional client service and expert advice throughout the legal process.

When you choose Repute Law, you will be assigned a Senior Criminal Defence Lawyer and a dedicated Case Concierge®, also a qualified lawyer. This team will support and advise you on your options, guide you through the legal proceedings, and ensure you are Court Ready® before your day in Court. This service is unique to Repute Law and includes guidance on Courtroom proceedings and what to wear in Court.

Our expertise in criminal law, makes us the ideal law firm to handle your legal matters.


Navigating the legal issues surrounding teacher-student physical contact in NSW requires comprehensive knowledge, robust defence strategies and expert counsel.

Our team of Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers, along with dedicated Case Concierges, is equipped with the necessary expertise to help you achieve the best possible outcome. We prioritise your interests and work tirelessly to protect your rights.

By engaging Repute Law at the earliest opportunity, our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers can promptly gather evidence, interview witnesses and prepare the best possible defence. Our team will negotiate with the police, aiming to minimise reputational loss by seeking to have the charges reduced or even dismissed without going to Court. Early representation could mean the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

If you or someone you know is facing charges involving teacher-student physical contact, it is crucial to seek professional legal assistance promptly. Contact Repute Law today to schedule a consultation so we can begin helping you safeguard your future. Remember, when it comes to your legal defence, Repute Law is the name you can trust.

# Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

The content in this blog is to provide general information only and is not intended to provide and does not constitute legal advice on any matter. You should not rely upon the information contained in this blog as legal advice. Please contact us if you wish to discuss anything relevant in this blog. Any communications arising from this site are not intended to and do not create a legal relationship between Repute Law and any person.

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