Saturday, October 6, 2012
Why do we still have corporal punishment in our schools?
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.