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The Daily Sentinel, Nacogdoches, Texas, 14 November 2009
Woman says boy bruised by paddle
By Trent Jacobs
A San Augustine woman said she is concerned about the paddling of her 7-year-old son at his elementary school that left him with bruises on his buttocks and tailbone so severe she had to take him to the local emergency room.
Lynita Lamar told The Daily Sentinel that on Friday, Nov. 6, the principal of the San Augustine Elementary School paddled her second grader three times for having a calculator in his possession that another child had allegedly taken the previous day from the high school campus. Lamar alleges that the paddle used is one inch thick, wrapped in surgical tape and has electric lights on it that are plugged into a wall socket and meant to "intimidate children."
Lamar said she was not notified by school officials that her son had received corporal punishment, and she only discovered the paddle marks when she gave the boy his nightly bath. In previous years, Lamar said the school sent home letters allowing parents to opt out of the practice of corporal punishment. But this year, the school district did not send those letters home, she said.
Now she said she wants the school's policy reversed.
"If he had done something wrong, I think they should have contacted me, and we could have gone from there," Lamar said. "But I don't believe they have the right to whip your child so extremely that it leaves bruises on him for a week and bruises his tailbone, too.
"Now I just want to do whatever I can to change the law," she said, adding that she wanted the school board to implement a 'no-hands-on' policy, especially for the younger students. "I don't believe any 6, 7 or 8-year-old should be coming home black and blue like that."
Lamar said she will take her fight to the governor's office if she has too, and she is looking into contacting advocacy groups that oppose corporal punishment and might provide her with legal counsel to assist her in obtaining reimbursement for her hospital bill.
According to the Texas Education Agency, which does not track corporal punishment statistics, during the last legislative session, two bills that would have mandated parent consent on corporal punishment never passed. So as it stands, current state law allows for teachers and principals to issue corporal punishment as they see fit, as long as it does not cause death. And employees of public school districts are immune from prosecution for corporal punishment as long as it is not deemed "excessive" or results in bodily injury, which is exactly what Lamar says happened in her son's case.
Photographs of her son Lamar said were taken the day after the paddling show numerous black, blue and purple bruises across the child's buttocks. After taking the boy to the emergency room the next day, doctors prescribed regular Tylenol for the pain, which she said prevented the boy from resting on his backside all weekend, and a heating pad to reduce the swelling.
San Augustine ISD Superintendent Walter Key said that it was never the intention of the principal to cause any injury to the child. He said that in this case, corporal punishment was appropriate for the student's infraction, which he said he could not elaborate on because of privacy issues.
"Spanking is never meant to harm or cause injury to a child," Key said. "That's not what spanking is for, nor is any other punishment.
"The bruising I saw in the photos -- I certainly didn't see the child before the bruising -- but it appears the paddling did cause the bruising, but that's not what it was for," he said.
Key added that without knowing the child's medical history, it was impossible to say whether or not the same paddling would have caused similar injuries to another child.
"Some children can call fall, and they're going to bruise badly, and there's some that won't bruise whatsoever," he said.
Addressing one of Lamar's main concerns that the elementary school no longer gave parents the option of exempting their child from corporal punishment, Key said that policy was recently revised by the school board.
"The district allows for corporal punishment if that is the best form of punishment that fits the nature of the offense," Key said. "In years past, the elementary campus allowed the parents to give permission, or not, for corporal punishment. The school board found out about that and made it very clear that to the elementary school and all campuses, that was not allowable ... that if corporal punishment was the best punishment that fit the offense, than that's what had to happen."
Lamar said while she does not totally object to the idea of corporal punishment being used in schools, she is adamant that parents have the right to know whether or not their child is being physically punished and the right to not allow it to be used on their child if they wish.
"I just want the law to say that they can't be beating on my baby," she said. "I'm scared because I don't know if it will happen again. They're telling me it can without me even knowing about it. That's why I want this changed."
Texas is one of 20 states that still allow corporal punishment in schools and has historically utilized the disciplinary technique more than any other state partly due to the state's large student population.
Shelbyville Times-Gazette, Tennessee, 20 November 2009
Spanking guidelines modified
By John I. Carney
Bedford County Board of Education revised its corporal punishment policy Thursday night due to statewide concerns that corporal punishment is not equally applied to male and female students.
The change is being made by multiple school systems in response to complaints about the practice from the American Civil Liberties Union, said School Superintendent Ed Gray.
Many systems in Tennessee, including Bedford County, use model school system policies supplied by the Tennessee School Boards Association. Not every school system uses corporal punishment, but those who do, and who are using the model TSBA policy, have been using this guideline:
"6. In determining the use and degree of corporal punishment, consideration will be given to the age, sex, size, physical and emotional condition of the child."
Gray said that there have been complaints by ACLU at the state level that corporal punishment is not equally applied to boys and girls, which would be a violation of Title IX educational requirements. For this reason, the state sent out a memo to local school systems using corporal punishment asking them to strike guideline 6 entirely from their policies.
The memo says that the state has negotiated with the U.S. Department of Education to make the change, and if all of the affected school systems remove the item by Jan. 15, 2010, the federal Department of Education will close its complaint against the state.
The remaining provisions, which are still in effect, include requiring that corporal punishment be administered "only after less stringent measures have failed, or if the conduct of a student is of such nature that corporal punishment is the only reasonable form of punishment under the circumstances." Corporal punishment must be administered in the presence of a second professional employee, using an instrument approved by the school's principal. The punishment must be "reasonable" and "in proportion to the gravity of the offense, the apparent motive and disposition of the offender, and the influence of the offender's example and conduct on others."
In other discussion Thursday night:
© Copyright 2009, Shelbyville Times-Gazette
wtoc.com (WTOC-TV), Savannah, Georgia, 20 November 2009
Parent: School went too far with paddling
By Brooke Kelley
BAXLEY, GA (WTOC) - Should educators be allowed to spank a child who misbehaves? It's a subject that's been debated for years.
In the State of Georgia, paddling students is legal,
but the implementation of a spanking policy is left up
to each school district. But one Baxley parent says her
son's school took it too far.
"We don't believe in paddling our child," she said.
"I don't think what he did was right. I want them to punish
him, but not hurt him where he is afraid to go back to school.
You know if I put bruises on him, I would be in trouble. I don't
think a stranger should be allowed to put bruises on a
Appling County Department of Family and Child Services is working with the sheriff's department and the school district to investigate the incident.
© 2009 WTOC. All rights reserved.
news14.com (News 14 TV), Charlotte, N. Carolina, 24 November 2009
Rowan-Salisbury school board passes paddling ban
By News 14 Carolina Web Staff
SALISBURY, N.C. -- The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education
unanimously passed a ban on corporal punishment Monday.
Copyright © 2008 TWEAN Newschannel of Raleigh, L.L.C. dba News 14 Carolina
Indianapolis Star, 29 November 2009
Some schools prefer to apply their discipline without a paddle
By Andy Gammill
Some schools prefer to apply their discipline without a paddle
Some old-time school principals wax nostalgic about a day when paddles were proudly displayed and students in trouble were given the choice of a spanking or a call home.
Nostalgic, because Indiana has pretty much put away the paddle.
Corporal punishment is still legal in Indiana -- and plenty of parents still favor the occasional whack -- but the trend has decidedly been toward using other forms of punishment.
In some cases, districts have passed policies that ban the practice. But in many other cases, principals simply have chosen on their own to retire their paddles.
Of 44 school districts in Indianapolis and surrounding counties, only three say they have paddled students in the past year. And one of those districts is moving toward putting a stop to the practice.
All told, about 15 local public school students were paddled in the last year.
It's a thorny subject for schools. Over the last two decades, education groups and psychologists have increasingly argued that paddling is not that effective and that it could harm kids in ways that might not show up for years.
But those views conflict with the beliefs of many parents and constituents who say they themselves were kept in line as children by the fear of paddling.
"I'm probably with the majority opinion that it's probably an outdated disciplinary tool," said Mooresville Schools Superintendent Curt Freeman. "But I know an awful lot of adults in this community who I had in school -- some of whom I had to use that disciplinary method with -- and a lot of them say, 'You should still be doing that.' "
Mooresville is among more than a dozen local districts where the School Board has a policy on the books allowing paddling but administrators choose not to do so.
Over the years, those schools have been slowly overturning those policies as paddling has gone out of vogue. Another local district, Plainfield Schools, is removing its policy allowing paddling.
About 30 states have banned corporal punishment in schools, but in Indiana it is still alive, although it has been quietly dying out.
Only a few districts paddle
Within the eight-county Indianapolis area, only Perry Township Schools, Franklin Township Schools and Martinsville Schools said they have used corporal punishment recently.
Perry Township administrators have paddled four students so far this year, and two schools in Martinsville have done so a total of five or six times when parents insisted.
One school in Franklin Township had paddled several students in the past year, Superintendent Walter Bourke said, adding that he hadn't been aware the practice continued in his district until The Indianapolis Star asked and he queried principals.
Even though he expects the district to keep the policy allowing it, Bourke said he doesn't believe principals will use it even as little as it has been used.
"I've communicated to them I don't think it's a great idea," he said.
At least one parent in his district, though, disagrees. John Bunner, whose son will attend kindergarten in Franklin Township next year, said he wants the school to paddle his son if his misbehavior warrants it.
"I feel that if my son or any of my children is in public school, the school is charged with their whole education," he said. "Discipline and administering punishment is part of that education."
Bunner said he was never paddled in school, but knowing that others had been disciplined that way was enough of a deterrent to keep him from acting up.
"A lot of people that are in opposition to this like to cite it's damaging the children's psyches. I just disagree," he said. "Not one of my friends growing up who got sent to the office had any adverse effects."
He's not alone among parents.
All of the paddling punishments in Perry Township Schools have come at parents' requests, Superintendent Thomas Little said.
Corporal punishment, he said, is the punishment of last resort, and even then only in special cases where it seems it will be the most effective tool and parents have requested it.
Effective or harmful?
The most prominent national groups of doctors, lawyers, teachers, school nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists and others have issued statements opposing corporal punishment in schools.
Danville Schools Superintendent Denis Ward said he doesn't think that using force to resolve a problem sends the right message to students. He also worries that administrators could inadvertently paddle someone who has been abused and compound the emotional problems.
His district doesn't use corporal punishment.
"It was more hassle than it was worth," Ward said. "It used to be effective. But you don't solve anything by hitting or beating up on people. That's how kids see what's happening to them."
Just a few miles south, though, Eminence Schools Superintendent Larry Moore said he wishes his district still could use paddling.
It's too risky, he said, for legal and political reasons. But Moore often found it was the only way to get through to boys in middle school and the early years of high school.
"There is just a certain time -- and this is old-school -- where some young men need to have someone show they care," he said. "The psychologists really messed us up on this."
Tania Thomas, who lives near Muncie, thinks Moore is right that paddling can be very effective, and she laments that schools don't use it anymore.
Her children went through Pike Township Schools, and her grandchildren attend schools in Danville and McCordsville. None of the three districts use corporal punishment.
"I think it's humiliation for a child, and if they know that's going to happen, they'll act better. Kids want to be loved and noticed and disciplined."
Schools should care enough to discipline students, said Sandy Runkle, program director of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana. But, she said, there are ways to discipline with 100 percent success without resorting to force.
"Corporal punishment is stating. 'I'm bigger than you are, and if you're bigger than somebody you can use physical punishment to get somebody to change their behavior,' " she said. "What are you teaching then?"
Runkle's group would like to see the legislature ban corporal punishment.
Then again, if the Indianapolis area is any indication, there may soon be no need for a law.
Additional Facts Legal but little-used
• 30 states have banned paddling; Indiana allows it.
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