Feature

The prevalence of school spanking

Should teachers be allowed to use corporal punishment?

What happenedIn the 2006-07 school year, 223,190 students were spanked or paddled in U.S. schools, according to Education Department statistics included in a joint report by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union. Corporal punishment is legal in 21 states and used frequently in 13, the report said. (CNN)

What the commentators said“Many of us who practice Education Law,” said Mitchell H. Rubinstein in the Adjunct Law Prof Blog, “just assume that corporal punishment is illegal.” It isn’t, at least in 21 states, but that’s just wrong. “Our schools should not be in the business of hitting children no matter what they do.”

“Our inability to discipline our kids both at home” and in schools “has led to the mess our country is in now,” said Merle Widmer in his Peoria Watch blog. Any “fool” knows that beating a kid is ineffective and wrong. But, as a former school teacher, I’ll attest that “three solid slaps on a bent over butt” can go a long way toward solving a school’s discipline problems.

“I would lose my mind if a teacher or principal or daycare worker spanked my kid,” said Madeline Holler in the parenting blog Strollerderby. There are better ways to enforce discipline. But it gets worse than just corporal punishment—the study found teachers spank kids as young as 3, and minorities and students with disabilities get spanked at a higher rate.

“There is no place for spanking at school, but there is also no place for discipline problems,” said Anna and Ellie Sherise in the blog Magna Sententia. A lack of classroom discipline “causes learning to suffer,” but it’s up to parents to make sure their kids behave, not teachers. So parents, “listen open-mindedly” when the school says your kid is causing problems—if you think spanking’s fine, it’s your job to do it.

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