Corporal Punishment In Schools

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I read with interest an article pertaining to school corporal punishment (although using the term “corporal punishment” is really a euphemism. Let us call it what it really is…hitting). I’m fairly certain there are mixed opinions regarding this issue, but my concern is that many people in Indiana are still in favor of the use of physical punishment in schools. I would like to take this opportunity to share just some basic facts about hitting a child, especially in a school setting. Although there is much research on this topic, I will primarily focus on the most frequently perpetuated myths.

One myth states that if there was still paddling in schools, there would be fewer school shootings. In reality, according to the Center for Effective Discipline and the National School Safety Center’s Report on School Associated Violent Deaths (1992-2007), it was found that there were significantly more shooting deaths in states that still permitted corporal punishment.

The second myth is that since paddling was taken out of schools, there has been more violence against teachers. Actually, the opposite is true. The decline of paddling in the United States correlates with a decline of violence against teachers. Other proponents for paddling state that since paddling has been taken out of schools, that children have become lazier and are falling behind. The fact is that non-paddling states have higher ACT scores and higher graduation rates.

Another myth indicates that if you don’t paddle children when they misbehave, they will end-up in juvenile detention or jail. The reality is that eight of the top ten paddling states are the top ten states with the highest incarceration rates (Bureau of Juvenile Statistics). No one is suggesting that children should not be taught appropriate behaviors and consequences.

The bottom line is, there are too many other effective ways in which manage a child’s behavior without resorting to hitting. Paddling has been known to leave bruises, as well as broken bones and other injuries. I’m sure that we will receive comments such as “I was hit and I turned out okay”…well, I’m sure that’s probably true, but the same can be said for the use of car seats, seat belts, helmets, etc. Yes, many of us went without these objects as children and we survived. However, there were millions of children who did not survive, and now that we know the potential dangers of not using these items, we would never have our children go without these protective devices.

The last thought I have is: Can anyone imagine doing something at work that did not meet with your supervisor’s approval, and then having to endure the pain and embarrassment of being paddled…all of your co-workers knowing about it…maybe your clientele. Can you imagine how angry and hurt you would be at your work place? Perhaps you would not repeat the behavior that got you into trouble (or perhaps you would out of spite), but you would be responding out of fear, not out of respect for your boss, the rules, or your place of business. And really…how motivated would you be to continue making an effort in your job? This point is moot however, because if your boss were ever to strike you, he or she would be arrested. For some reason when a person crosses the magical age of 18, it becomes a crime for a caregiver to hit them…before that, all bets are off.

Hopefully Indiana will become one of the majority of states that ban hitting children in school.

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