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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Why do we still have corporal punishment in our schools?

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I remember blogging about corporal punishment while I was still at VicAd, but I thought we had some people looking into petitioning our state to get rid of it. Evidently, it's still a problem because it's still legal in 19 states despite the evidence that it can do serious harm to our children.

Recently, a couple of Texas mothers complained that a male assistant principal severely paddled their daughters. What the daughters did to get in that situation is not in question because evidently there was a school policy that required officials of the same sex to do the paddling. It was presented to the school board where they responded by dropping the ruled that required officials of the same sex to do the paddling. The Springtown Independent School District removed any restriction that might hinder their hideous practice.

I don't know why Texas has to be one and 19 states that allows corporal punishment. New Jersey has banded since 1867 and in the 1980s and '90s many states followed suit in adopting bans against corporal punishment in schools, including New York and California.

In the 2005-06 school year more than 223,000 students received corporal punishment. Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama lead in doling out corporal punishment where 5-8% of their students have received that type of punishment.

Corporal punishment has been linked to mental-health problems in children, and yes I know we all received corporal punishment without it having any ill effects on us. Studies have shown that children who receive physical punishment are more likely to experience depression, suicide antisocial behavior. I don't know if I put much stock in a Canadian study that found a connection between corporal punishment and alcohol and drug abuse, but they believe it to be true.

In my typical liberal answer for the problem; I say let's pass a federal law against corporal punishment in our schools. That won't work because Congress cannot pass a law all that's unconstitutional. The Supreme Court in 1977 (Ingraham v. Wright) ruled that  school corporal punishment does not violate the Eighth's amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. I guess that we could look at that case to see what is needed for it to be ruled cruel and unusual punishment. Perhaps more studies showing that it leads to depression suicide and antisocial behavior will do the trick.

Corporal punishment in schools is not popular. In an ABC News poll 72% of the respondents opposed physical punishment in grade schools. It's not a winning issue in the south, where it's most common, only 35% favored the practice.

As I was taking my bicycle to be repaired this morning, I was delayed by long train. As the railroad cars were passing by, I noticed the graffiti. I thought, yes the taggers defaced private property but there's some obvious talent there. I wonder when and how they got lost in the system. Instead of wasting all the time of spanking a child, documenting the practice, and answering the parents, we should use that time to try to get the heart of the problem. We can always punish the unruly by making their conduct part of their passing grade. We could also make it another standard they have to meet to participate in extracurricular activities, or we could simply expel them or put them in detention for a period of time.

Have a good weekend and support Breast Cancer Month.

I got the information I used from “Why Is Paddling Still Allowed in Schools? by Adam Cohen,Time Magazine. Read more here


Mike said...

I’ve changed my opinion on retaining the third grader who does not meet the third grade reading proficiency standard.

I stated in a blog I wrote (It's the third grade stupid) that I think that we should fail the Child who does not meet the standard.

I heard the author of the article explain her position on the Melissa-Harris-Perry show.

She said that now that we have identified the children; it’s time to get them specialized methods such as tutors, tools, and medical help if necessary and only fail them after taking the steps to improve their reading skills...retaining them will restart the process again which most likely will lead to the same result.

dale said...

Howdy Mike,
Had an interesting experience this weekend. I was honored to be asked to be the merit badge councilor for Citizenship in the Nation for the Boy Scout Merit Badge College. The event was sponsored by the South Texas Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The Victoria College hosted the event. And once again Ms Jennifer Yancey of the VC coordinated the event. (If you ever need a coordinator who has everything to make an event successful, just get Jennifer involved. Any way Victoria College has quite a representative.)

Back to the experience. Man, scouting has changed. The motto needs to be changed from “Be Prepared” to “Mom and Dad will take care of everything, and I will be ok.” These boys signed up to earn a required merit badge for the rank of Eagle. It is known that there are certain requirements which must be completed before you take the course. Of course, one should read the material beforehand. Next, complete any prerequisites, in this case visit a federal government facility. And lastly arrive with your reading material and a writing apparatus.

To my surprise, eleven out of twelve had not read their material beforehand . Ten had not a scrap of paper to write on. Seven didn’t even bring a pencil. I guess these young boys thought having lived to the age of eleven qualified them to success in life. And my wife, the teacher, told me afterward…. “See what I have been telling you.”

Out of the twelve, three shined. Because of them, I have confidence that our nation will be ok. For the remainder, there will be a challenge.