HURRAY! As of April 2015 all 50 states have passed anti-bullying laws. BUT WAIT LAW MAKERS! Don’t put down the law signing pen yet! Our kids still need you to protect them.
28 states allow Corporal Punishment in public and private schools giving teachers and other authorized caregivers the right to physically discipline children by spanking, paddling, caning and other means to deliberately inflict pain in order to punish a child.
Those states are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. All the states in “RED” on the map.
We can’t let “Do as I say not as I do” hide the abuse of children.
The methods and severity of physical discipline vary from school to school. The states listed above link to over 950 school handbooks outlining their use of Corporal Punishment. Here are a few details written in some of those handbooks:
- If the parents have failed to give written permission they are asked to come to the school to administer Corporal Punishment themselves, or take the child away.
- There is a maximum of three swats. If students “refuse to cooperate fully” with being paddled, the parents are called to “come and handle the situation” or withdraw the student.
- The student or parent is given the choice of up to three licks or five days’ suspension. “When possible men will administer punishment to boys and women will administer punishment to girls.”
- Parents may elect to administer the paddling themselves in the school office.
- “Paddling can and will be administered” by the Assistant Principal, and parental authorization “is assumed upon enrollment”.
- The parents are given the opportunity to deliver the spanking themselves, but it must take place on the same day as the offense, on school premises, and be witnessed by a teacher or administrator. If the parent refuses to allow it, the student is expelled. The instrument is a flat board, available in the school office.
- “No student is required to submit” to the paddle, so it is always at the student’s choice. The parent may request an alternative punishment, but if this is tried and doesn’t work, the principal will use Corporal Punishment even without parental consent.
- Refusal to accept a paddling constitutes a Major Offense, entailing suspension, Alternative School or expulsion.
- “The child will be paddled on his/her posterior. It will cause pain, but not bodily injury, aside from redness and irritation”. Parents must sign that “I have read the above and agree to support the school in its policy of corporal punishment without reservation and personally pledge my support to this scriptural approach to discipline”.
What behaviors warrant Corporal Punishment?
That also varies but these reasons are frequently listed.
- Being out of your seat
- Public displays of affection
- Being out of class without a pass
- Chewing gum
In 2010, the American Bar Association approved a set of Criminal Justice Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners. Those standards are better than what’s offered our children in many schools.
Bottom line: There are 28 states that make it illegal for a child to hit a child (AKA physical bullying) but those same states legally sanction the right of an adult to hit a child in either a public or private school. Who’s the bully now?
Every 30 seconds during the school year, a public school student is physically punished. According to the Department of Education, hundreds of thousands of school children are subjected to corporal punishment in public schools each year. Those statistics don’t include the children who are corporally punished in private schools.
School Corporal Punishment is usually executed in the form of “paddling”, or striking students with a wooden paddle on their buttocks or legs, which can result in abrasions, bruising, severe muscle injury, whiplash damage, life-threatening hemorrhages, and other medical complications that may require hospitalization.
Also racial disparity exists and African-American schoolchildren are disproportionately corporally punished. Recent statistics show that African-American students make up 18 percent of the national student population, but 40 percent of all students subjected to physical punishment at school are black. Black children are nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to be physically punished than White children, and nearly eight times more likely than Hispanic children.
Hundreds of respected national and international organizations oppose the use of Corporal Punishment. These groups include pediatricians, school nurses, school counselors, psychologists, psychiatrist, churches, and parents. The overwhelming consensus of researchers and scientists criticize the use of it.
Studies show that physical punishment — including spanking, hitting and other means of causing pain – can for a moment stop a child from doing something simply because kids are afraid of being hit.
But it doesn’t work to correct behavior problems and can lead to increased aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injury and mental health problems for kids.
Fortunately there are school districts that use better judgement. For example although Corporal Punishment is allowed in my home state of NC, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools strictly prohibits the use of it to discipline students.
This spring Representative Jason Powell sought to ban Corporal Punishment from Tennessee schools.
The amendment would have deleted the current law which states: “Any teacher or school principal may use corporal punishment in a reasonable manner against any pupil for good cause in order to maintain discipline and order within the public schools.” And replace those words with “no teacher, principal, school employee, or school bus driver shall administer corporal punishment to any student.”
On March 31, 2015 the bill failed because of a lack of a second motion. In this video the entire motion lasts a quick 80 seconds.
- We have a motion.
- Do we have a second?
- Bill fails.
Hope is on the horizon. A national bill was introduced in May.
- to promote the right of all children to be treated with dignity
- to ensure the safety of all students and school personnel
- to promote a positive school culture
- to provide school personnel training on effective, evidence-based behavioral intervention strategies to prevent injury and trauma to themselves and others
The journey of a bill to a law can be long and difficult. My favorite explanation of how that process works is the Schoolhouse Rock: “I’m Just a Bill” video. The kid in me wants to believe that this is still how a law is made and that it’s not just about deals and money. After all last time I checked kids can’t run for public office and they don’t have much financial clout so as adults it’s our duty to work with their best interest in mind and at heart.
A popular saying sums it up:
- When a child hits a child, we call it aggression.
- When a child hits an adult, we call it hostility.
- When an adult hits an adult, we call it assault.
- When an adult hits a child, we call it discipline.
Please don’t allow the physical abusive of children to be legal in our country.
As citizens what can we do to help protect our kids?
Stand up to the bullies that legally allow children to be hit at school. Let your voice be heard.
Support the “Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act of 2015” by contacting your local representative. It’s easy to do through POPVOX a civic, non-partisan, ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ website that delivers public input to government officials. Here’s a link to the bill: https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/114/hr2268
You can write in your own reason or feel free to copy my words below:
“I support H.R. 2268 Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act of 2015 because… All 50 states have anti-bullying laws yet unfortunately 19 of them legally sanction the right of an adult to hit a child as a means of discipline in public schools and a total of 28 states allow Corporal Punishment in either public or private schools. Our government has already recognized that bullying is wrong. It shouldn’t be tolerated by anyone especially not by the people who are given the task of educating our children. Thank you for your help.”
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