Corporal Punishment in Schools
July 30, 2010 2 Comments
This is good news. The ACLU reports that North Carolina is making headway in protecting children with disabilities from corporal punishment in schools.
Thirty states have already banned corporal punishment in school, but only two have banned it in private schools as well as public: Iowa and New Jersey. In the twenty-eight other states where it is banned, it is only so in public schools. The means of banning varies: most are by de facto or de jure. Utah has banned it by regulation rather than law.
In a 2002 study by the Department of Education, five of the twenty remaining states have doled out nearly three-quarters of all reported corporal punishment. Those states are: Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
The number is astonishingly higher than you’d think. In Pop Political Culture, corporal punishment is a thing of the past-along with images of one-room schools and recess. In Alabama, 9.1% of its students were subjected to corporal punishment in 2002. For the 2006-2007 school year, Mississippi won the award for highest percentage of children paddled. However, Texas has the highest number overall. Children with disabilities are far more likelier to receive corporal punishment than their able-bodied peers.
As horrifying as it is, it’s not terribly surprising. Differently-abled children have to be accommodated, the curriculum and the teaching methods altered to suit their needs, and this fits in badly for the one-size-fits-all system of education in the United States. Teachers are under a lot of pressure to improve scores of arbitrary tests, and students who don’t fit the mold are more conspicuous targets for venting that frustration.
In addition, the ability for the able-bodied to understand that differently-abled people experience the world differently than they do, and what works for them will not work for others is lost to them. Many able-bodied simply view the differently-abled as beneath them, and so not worthy of their education, respect, and their rights. Children are particularly vulnerable-since children are not seen as human beings, , but rather the property of their parents. It’s easily seen when parents, who rightfully argue against corporal punishment wrongfully do so because it is infringing upon their right to decide whether or not their child is beaten.
One district in North Carolina has created an “opt-out” system, meaning that children can be punished physically unless their parents choose to “opt-out.” In other words, children in this North Carolina district can be physically punished unless otherwise told so. Can you imagine filling out that form?
North Carolina’s new law only requires schools “regulate” corporate punishment of differently-abled children, and gives their parents the right to “opt-out” if their child goes to school in a district where corporate punishment is still used. Which is, again, more common than you’d think: more than 1,400 times in the 2008-2009 school year.
This is a step in the right direction–and I’m happy to hear that this measure passed unanimously–but it does not go far enough.
Corporal punishment has no place in schools. The remaining twenty states must outlaw this practice–or Congress must do so.
All Corporal punishment is is state-sanctioned assault against a child. In a different context, this would be called child abuse. But when it is seen as just retribution for a child’s misbehavior, some see it as all right.
I’m coming out as a child who was spanked. It did not “teach me a lesson.” It sparked a flame of resentment against those who spanked me. It taught me to strike others when they did something “wrong.” Nothing more.
North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Missouri, I’m calling you out on your state-sanctioned child abuse and discrimination against the disabled.