In 20 states of the United States, it is still legal for teachers to paddle their students. That is a shocking statistic. Even when in prison, criminals are protected by law from being physically abused by those in a position of authority over them. But for our children, no such protection is available.
We are one of the few countries to allow such treatment. 102 countries, including Canada, Australia, the countries of Western Europe and the U.K., have outlawed corporal punishment in schools. Within the United States, plenty of organizations oppose corporal punishment, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Consider a couple of examples: a high school coach in Georgia knocked a student’s eyeball out of its socket to punish the student for fighting with another student. In Texas, a 14-year-old autistic special education student was smothered to death by his teacher’s “restraint.” The kid was placed face down on the floor and when he struggled, his teacher sat on his shoulders to keep him still. He sufficated to death.
Because of these and many other instances of child abuse at the hands of teachers, Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D – NY) will introduce a bill in the House this week to deny federal funding to schools that use corporal punishment. For the first time in over 18 years, Congress held hearings in April, 2010, on the use of corporal punishment in schools, and this bill was the result of those hearings.
Here’s what was revealed: every twenty seconds of the school day, a child is beaten by an educator. Every four minutes, an educator beats a child so badly that she seeks medical attention. The U.S. Department of Education reported that in the 2006 – 07 school year, 223,190 students were the victims of such school violence, and over 20,000 of these young people had to seek medical attention.
These are outrageous statistics, and we applaud Rep. McCarthy for introducing her bill. It is time for the United States to join the rest of the developed world and implement a federal ban on corporal punishment. Corporal punishment is wrong. The American Psychological Association says corporal punishment may do far more than inflict physical pain; it may also lower self-esteem, instill hostility and teach children that physical violence is an acceptable problem-solving tool. And it doesn’t work.
Isn’t it time that we outlawed this barbaric practice in the United States?
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