For most Americans, corporal punishment — teachers striking or spanking students when they misbehave — is a remnant of a long-gone era. But, as The New York Times reported on Tuesday, paddling and spanking is still legal in 20 (mostly Southern) states, and has been drawing increased scrutiny. Texas is weighing an outright ban after a student went to the hospital after a severe paddling, while in New Orleans, the only Catholic school where student-smacking is allowed is facing protests. Is it time to reject corporal punishment once and for all?
Yes, corporal punishment is too risky: "It stuns me that we allow adults to legally strike students," says Maureen Downey at The Atlanta Journal Constitution. But not only does hitting children present "obvious educational, moral and psychological problems," but it also carries a threat of lawsuits from angry parents. In such a litigious age, it's surprising that schools would continue to go along with such a legally risky status quo.
"Corporal punishment: Why are we still hitting students in school?"
And what kind of lesson is this for kids? "I know that many kids — sometimes even my own — are out of control," says Joan Oliver Emmer at NJ.com. But tempting as it may be, corporal punishment does emotional as well as physical damage. By using violence to dole out punishment, we teach students a dangerous lesson: "He who is bigger and wields more power wins through pain and intimidation."
"Corporal punishment — should educators be allowed to hit your kid?"
Hogwash — paddlings can be good for you: "I have sympathy" for the alumni of St. Augustine's, the New Orleans Catholic school, who maintain that the occasional beating helped them avoid trouble outside school, says Peter Risdon at his blog. I'd count myself as one of the "beneficiaries" of corporal punishment — if I hadn't been struck twice during school, I would have "got into even more trouble than I subsequently did. A short shock is far better than a protracted descent into lawlessness."
"Pupils for corporal punishment"