Why Is Spanking At School Still Legal In 19 States?
In the 2006–2007 school year, 222,517 students were paddled in U.S. public schools. That averages one child being hit in school every 23 seconds.
Here’s what you need to know about corporal punishment in the United States:
- In all 50 states, it is illegal to hit a prisoner.
- In all 50 states, it is illegal to hit someone in the military.
- In all 50 states, it is illegal to hit an animal.
And yet, in these 19 states, it is perfectly legal for a teacher to hit a child: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.
In these states, a student can be paddled in school for being late to class, acting out, going to the bathroom without permission, or even failing a test. And according to ABC News, up to 20,000 public school students each year seek medical treatment after they have been paddled.
One of these students is Tenika Jones’s 5-year-old son. From ABC news:
Opponents of the ban say spanking is matter of tradition and good old-fashioned discipline. But at least one Florida mom is suing to stop the practice. Tenika Jones says the principal at the Joyce Bullock Elementary School in Levy County paddled her 5-year-old so severely last April that he cried for hours, triggering an asthma attack, which in turn required a trip to the emergency room.
The boy was spanked for roughhousing with another student on a school bus. Jones said her son had welts on his buttocks, missed a week of school and still has nightmares about the incident.
“That’s child abuse to me,” the 32-year old told reporters, “If they don’t want us to hit our kids, they shouldn’t either.” Principal Jaime Handlin declined to comment, citing the on-going legislation, but she did tell the Willston Pioneer newspaper that “nothing was violated.”
She added, “I disciplined out of love, not anger.”
However, researchers at the Center for Effective Discipline, a group that advocates against corporal punishment, have found that spanking can increase aggressiveness in children and can even hurt the mental development of young children.
As an educator, I know that the issue of classroom discipline is one of the toughest for teachers. But the goal of any behavior management program should be to allow your students to learn inner discipline. Rules need to be set, with consequences that are enforced consistently and fairly. Corporal punishment should not be any part of this.
Every teacher knows that enforcing discipline and setting limits in the classroom are vital for successful teaching, but hitting children is a cowardly, weak response to behavior problems, and should never be used. Students need teachers who can take control of their class, show that they are in charge, and provide clear direction. They do not need bullies, whose message is that hitting is acceptable for teachers.
Research shows that corporal punishment is “associated with an increase in delinquency, antisocial behavior, and aggression in children,” according to the American Psychoanalytic Association, which “strongly condemns” the use of such punishment. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents and schools use other forms of punishment because “corporal punishment is of limited effectiveness and has potentially deleterious side effects.”
If you agree that corporal punishment in schools is wrong, please sign our petition asking the Iowa Department of Education to stop using corporal punishment.
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