|www.corpun.com : Archive : 2004 : US Schools Mar 2004|
School CP - March 2004
Kingsport Times-News, Tennessee, 1 March 2004
Is paddling best way to discipline Tenn. students?
Why are Tennessee schools so paddle-prone? According to the most recent survey by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, 44,860 students were paddled in Tennessee elementary, middle and high schools during the 1999-2000 school year.
That's 4.2 percent of the student population, up from 4 percent in 1997-98, the first increase in more than a decade.
In fact, Tennessee is ranked fourth in the percentage of students receiving corporal punishment among the 50 states.
The top paddling state in the nation is Mississippi with 9.1 percent of students paddled in 2000; Arkansas, also at 9.1 percent, is second; and Alabama is third at 5.4 percent. The department's study also shows that black students are paddled more than twice as often as other students, proportionate to the overall school population.
Locally, according to the latest Office For Civil Rights survey, Kingsport, Bristol, Sullivan, Hawkins and Washington schools all reported less than 5 percent of their students were paddled in the 2001-2002 school year. Johnson City, Rogersville and Elizabethton schools reported no incidences of paddling during the period.
Tennessee's overall fourth-place ranking, however, may well mask an even greater prevalence of paddling. That's because in Tennessee students are reported as receiving corporal punishment only one time even though they may have been paddled numerous times throughout the year.
U.S. Department of Education statistics show that the use of corporal punishment has declined significantly since the early 1970s, when many states began to outlaw the practice. The numbers tell the story: In 2000, the most recent year for which figures are available from the Department of Education, 342,038 public school students were paddled, down from 1.5 million in 1976. Since 1976 the nation's school population has increased significantly - a further indication of how most schools are sparing the rod.
These figures only include public schools - there are no statistics on paddlings in private and religious schools.
Many anti-paddling advocates correctly point out that when it comes to paddling, a school child has less legal protection than someone in jail or the armed services. Indeed, under U.S. law, children are the only class of individuals who can be legally struck.
A decision last month by the Canadian Supreme Court to outlaw the use of corporal punishment by teachers has left the United States and a lone state in Australia as the only parts of the industrialized world to allow corporal punishment in schools, according to anti-paddling activists.
While 28 U.S. states have outlawed paddling during the past three decades, the practice remains a classroom constant across much of the Bible Belt.
Perhaps paddling remains as commonplace as it does in the South because of that old biblical admonition to spare the rod and spoil the child, but it's ultimately impossible to demonstrate the rule's efficacy. There's no particular evidence, for example, to show that children in Virginia, where corporal punishment has been banned for approximately a decade, are any more "spoiled" than their Tennessee counterparts.
Virginia doesn't have a greater share of dropouts or juvenile delinquents than Tennessee. Similarly, there doesn't seem to be any particular reason that Kingsport or Sullivan students should receive paddlings when their fellow students in Johnson City or Elizabethton or Rogersville do not.
The suspicion lingers that paddling survives in Tennessee and some surrounding states not because it produces more disciplined students, but merely because it was done so in the past. If that is true, parents, educators and lawmakers need to take a fresh look at the practice and ask some reasonable questions about it, including liability, and whether the reasons for continuing this practice outweigh the physical and emotional harm it does to children.
The discipline of children may be achieved in a variety of ways. Most of the world and much of the U.S. decided long ago that beating children was not the best way to achieve that desired goal. That doesn't necessarily make Tennessee wrong, but it should make Tennesseans question if it's the right approach.
Copyright 2002, Kingsport Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved
Herald-Palladium, St Joseph-Benton Harbor, Michigan, 5 March 2004
Benton Harbor teachers accused of hitting students
By Lynn Stevens
BENTON HARBOR -- A high school teacher resigned, a
junior high teacher was temporarily suspended and a substitute elementary
teacher was dropped from a call list after the three men were investigated
for allegedly using corporal punishment on students in the Benton Harbor
Area Schools district late last year.
The substitute teacher allegedly punched two 10-year-old boys, a Benton
Township policeman told the newspaper in December. But on Thursday the
department could not locate files on that investigation.
Gulledge resigned a short time later.
In a February letter to school Superintendent Paula Dawning, Berrien County
Prosecutor James Cherry explained why he was not prosecuting Gulledge.
The district responds
Jefferson said although the three incidents happened within a short period of time, the timing seemed purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2004 The Herald-Palladium
Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Indiana, 7 March 2004
Needed: A paddling policy with no butts about it
By Jack Williams
When I read about the recent classroom controversy in a Mississippi school district, it brought back the sting of a junior high school memory -- a memory I thought I had successfully repressed.
Perhaps you heard about the middle school assistant principal who disobeyed a supervisor's orders to paddle students. Adamant that paddling 10 to 15 students each day was not the best use of his administrative skills, he resigned his job before the school could fire him for insubordination.
According to the Department of Education, Mississippi paddles more of its students -- 10 percent -- than any other state, followed by Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma and other southern and Bible belt states.
Punishment by paddle is a practice that went into steep decline in the early '70s as educators pursued other disciplinary methods. Unfortunately, I was in junior high in the late '60s. At Perry East Junior High on the far south edge of Indianapolis, our teachers instilled in us these three mottoes: "Today's good students become tomorrow's good citizens," "You won't always be a social klutz," and "Rodney, out in the hall for three whacks."
Every day, it seemed, one of our teachers would interrupt class and usher a classmate out into the hall. Nothing could hush a class faster as we leaned in our desks toward the door to hear a terse exchange that usually ended with something like "Reach for your ankles, Eddie." What followed was a few seconds of silence (Was Mr. Turley taking a few practice cuts?), after which we heard a deafening Crrraaaaccckkk!!!!! We felt Eddie's pain and winced with each wallop, a set of three was school policy. We convulsed -- briefly -- with laughter but found our straight faces before the teacher, whose face was now a little more relaxed, and the student, whose face was now a little red, finally returned.
But the teacher who coined the infamous "three whacks" threat was an aging wood shop teacher whose name, Clem Naugle, proved that, indeed, truth is stranger than fiction. In a kind of swaggering voice of one who might have recently had a stroke, he'd look out over his young men and try to assess who exactly had made that farting noise.
"Yes, Mr. Naugle?"
"Was that you?"
"No, Mr. Naugle."
"Yes, Mr. Naugle?"
"Out in the hall for three whaaacks."
I escaped the wrath of Clem and other Perry East teachers until eighth grade. That's when I first learned of an obscure, at least to me, school rule stating that if a student's combination lock was not found to be secured on his or her hall locker, the offender had, you guessed it, one whack coming. When Mr. Shaw approached me about my missing lock, I was more than a little anxious. I can still hear him telling me, 35 years later, to let him know when I was ready for my whack. Slightly traumatized, I avoided Mr. Shaw the rest of the year, even though I was in his Algebra class. Each day I moved stealthily from bus to class and back again, hiding behind an incognito disguise of long hair and books stacked up past my face.
I don't remember any great debate about corporal punishment back in those days. But, it's a debate whose time may have come, since last month Canada banned the practice of paddling, leaving the United States and Australia as the only remaining countries in a mostly non-student-spanking world. A little history may prove interesting here: Poland was the first country to ban the paddle in 1783, followed soon thereafter by the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Belgium, Austria and so on until European schools were eventually a paddle free environment. But in the U.S., more than 20 states condone the practice, including Indiana, where disciplinary policies are left to local school boards.
I'm sure Mr. Shaw would have reminded me of these facts had I challenged him on the "one whack for a lost lock" rule. Still, I couldn't imagine going up to him and saying, "Mr. Shaw, I know you're a busy man, but do you have time now to bludgeon my backside?" How stupid would that be?
Due to my use of common sense -- or perhaps Mr. Shaw just forgot -- I escaped his swat that year. In fact, I was about to graduate from junior high and escape paddling altogether when I met Mr. Hunt, a P.E. teacher who was finishing out the semester for another teacher. Mr. Hunt carried his paddle with him the way some teachers carried their grade book. For him, it was an indispensable tool in the war against student ignorance.
In my last week at Perry East Junior High, I arrived at gym class a little late along with some other tardy buddies. As we were nonchalantly changing into shorts and T-shirts in the locker room, Mr. Hunt approached us from the, ahem, rear. Now in many schools today, whacking happens in the presence of another witness --a school administrator, perhaps -- and only with prior parental consent. But Mr. Hunt's policy was one of corporal punishment by ambush, so I didn't even see it coming. I might add that I was in that phase of dress where you're not quite in your bell bottom Levi's and not exactly in your red gym shorts either.
Since my locker was on the end, I got the first swat, the first and the last of my scholastic career. Mr. Hunt then yelled at the other latecomers to assume the "bend over" position while he played home run derby.
I was reminded of that painful memory this past week when I read the story about the Mississippi paddling controversy. And I briefly entertained the possibility of a conspiracy theory. Could it be that Mr. Hunt was delivering a little reminder from Mr. Shaw?
© 2004 The Herald Bulletin.
ABCActionNews.com (WFTS, Tampa, Florida), 8 March 2004
Spanking among many issues at charter school, district says
an ABC Action News report
TAMPA - A bay area charter school may be a hit with parents, but the school district says there's too much hitting going on.
The Hillsborough County School District has a long list of complaints against Prince Community Academy, claiming there are financial problems and teachers who aren't certified. But perhaps the most glaring problem at the school, the district says, is that they use an incredible amount of corporal punishment.
Roughly half of the 55 students enrolled in the charter school told ABC Action News they have been paddled this school year. That's more than the number of paddlings at every traditional Hillsborough public school combined.
"No regular school in this system paddles 50 percent of their children. The number of children administered corporal punishment in this district is far under one percent," district spokesman Mark Hart observed.
"We do use corporal punishment. What they may feel is too much is not what Prince Community Academy or the parents feel," countered Stella Prince, the academy's director.
"The corporal punishment is no big deal. You know, back in the days when I was growing up, we all got spankings. A little spanking on the butt is not enough to close down Prince Academy," parent Mary Gray added.
Aside from the paddling concerns, the district says, there are enough problems to pull the school's charter seven months into its first year.
The school's director says the best way to tell if this school is working well is to see if the kids get a year's worth of education in a single year. They want the year to prove what they can do
A performance review committee recommended pulling the school's charter. But parents met with the school board Monday morning and the superintendent agreed to discipline the school without pulling its charter.
The E.W. Scripps Co. ©
Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, Texas, 8 March 2004
Community lucky to have someone like Coach West
I am writing this letter in response to several articles I have read about the spanking incident that recently occurred at MWHS. Like some who have written, I am also a former student/athlete of MWHS.
Let me start off by saying that I do not back corporal punishment 100 percent, but I do believe that the situation has been blown well out of proportion. Unlike the other people writing in and criticizing the coaching staff, I have witnessed some of these "spankings" in person. With that in mind, let me say that they are less severe than being popped pretty hard with a wet towel in the locker room.
I was raised in a Christian house where spankings were a pretty regular occurrence at a young age, nothing out of hand of course, but enough to give some incentive as not to misbehave. Also like many others, if I received a spanking at school, I received one at home. If you look at the problem children of today, much of if directs back to a lack of discipline in the home. Ironically, these are the same parents who have a problem with their children receiving slight corporal punishment for failing classes and letting their entire team down in the process.
In response to Mr. Bowen's letter, you cannot place the loss of a football game on the coaches alone. I was also in attendance for the game, and it is hard to make halftime adjustments for fumbling the ball and missing blocking assignments. That part comes down to commitment and practice. The same commitment that it takes to be an athlete while passing your classes.
Winning is the incentive for having good practices and commitment. Sort of like avoiding punishment such as spankings is an incentive to pass your classes. Actually, many times athletes are given a choice whether to receive "swats" of do some other kind of physical punishment such as bear crawling or pushing a plate across the ground, more times than not they choose the swats. This shows how the students feel about it. Personally, I feel if an athlete can't pass their classes to start with they don't even need to be playing sports. They should probably invest their time in improving their academics.
As far as the incident with Mrs. West goes, I feel that she made the right decision. I feel that every person at the game should support their team 100 percent, but they should do it from the stands. It is not appropriate to be talking with the team during the game. In fact, many times the athlete will be punished for talking with people that are off the field. I think the fact that the student had been removed from the team is irrelevant to the situation.
I for one think we are lucky to have a coach that will try to take some initiative in raising some of these young men. This will be the closest thing to a disciplinary parent figure any of these people will ever have. I believe our country's growing problem is a lack of what this guy promotes. Discipline.
Nathan R. Thompson
Copyright Mineral Wells Index
Punxsutawney Spirit, Pennsylvania, 9 March 2004
Discipline policy on hold after tie vote
By Darcy L. Smith
PUNXSUTAWNEY - A tie vote has the Punxsutawney Area School Board unsure about the future of corporal punishment.
Copyright © 2004. Punxsutawney Spirit
Tuscaloosa News, Alabama, 11 March 2004
Suit filed against coach for paddling
Northport teacher accused of violating school board policy
By Adam Jones
Members of the 2002 Collins-Riverside football team could expect one lick from coach Mike Griffin for every "F" on a report card and two licks for taking equipment from school.
The county's corporal punishment policy permits "reasonable corporal punishment" in an effort to "teach good citizenship by requiring proper conduct." The punishment cannot be more than three licks to the buttocks. It must be administered with another teacher or administrator present, outside the presence of other students and without anger or malice.
Copyright © 2002 The Tuscaloosa News
Tuscaloosa News, Alabama, 18 March 2004
Children no longer are disciplined
Dear Editor: As a retired teacher, I well remember my first day on the job as a teacher in Tuscaloosa County. I had accidentally attended the all-black
teacher orientation meeting, not realizing that the faculties were integrating during my first year of teaching.
Copyright © 2002 The Tuscaloosa News
Indianapolis Star, 19 March 2004
2 IPS teachers are suspended for paddling
By Eunice Trotter
Two Indianapolis Public Schools teachers have been suspended after six third-graders were spanked multiple times with a board.
The punishment was ordered by third-grade teacher Rachelle B. Phifer, who had fifth-grade teacher Ulysses Coleman Jr. administer the paddling, school officials confirmed Thursday. Both are teachers at School 48 at 3445 Central Ave.
One boy was treated Thursday at Methodist Hospital, according to his mother, who said the blows left bruises and red swelling on his buttocks.
The six students, all 9-year-old boys, are in the same class. They received the corporal punishment Wednesday because Phifer believed they were part of a gang, according to the mother of one of the boys.
The teachers have been suspended pending an investigation by Marion County Child Protection Services.
School 48 Principal Deloris Sangster said the incident was reported to Child Protection Services, Indianapolis police and school personnel officials. She said school district policy was followed, but the teachers were suspended until child protection workers can finish their investigation.
IPS policy states parents do not have to give permission for corporal punishment to be used, but they should be notified.
Sangster declined to comment further because, she said, "I don't know where this is going." Coleman and Phifer could not be reached for comment.
IPS spokeswoman Mary Louise Scheid said Superintendent Duncan Pat Pritchett has told teachers he prefers they not use corporal punishment, even though Indiana is one of 23 states that allow it.
Even with state approval, the vast majority of IPS schools do not allow corporal punishment, Scheid said. School 48 does.
Scheid described Phifer and Coleman as "good teachers with no blemishes on their records." Phifer was hired in 1998, and Coleman started in December 2002. "In this case we think the teacher was trying in her best way to share a lesson that being in a gang was not appropriate," Scheid said.
Statewide, school policies on corporal punishment vary, said Nelson Miller of the Indiana School Boards Association. But when a school allows it, discretion must be used, he said.
"It's bad judgment to do more than one or two swats, but I'm not sure any corporal punishment is good at all," Nelson said.
Scheid said all of the parents except one were notified before the paddlings.
The policy allows a paddle to be used, and it may be wood, provided it is flat and no larger than a half-inch thick, 4 inches wide and 18 inches long.
Cindy Collier, an administrator with the state's Family and Social Services Administration, said she could neither confirm nor deny that Child Protection Services is investigating the incident because of state confidentiality laws.
In general, whenever there is a possible child abuse report, the agency is required to investigate.
Collier said teachers are held to the same standard as anyone else investigated for child abuse.
"We would look at the child and see if serious physical abuse had occurred, and if so, that's when we'd get law enforcement involved."
Scheid said at least one parent witnessed the punishment.
Nicole Hall, mother of the boy treated at Methodist, said she learned about the discipline after it had been administered.
She said she was told the boys were told to hold on to a table and look out a window while Coleman struck each boy at least three times with the paddle.
Her son received a fourth blow because he had caused Phifer "anguish," she was told by her son and the school principal.
Hall said she learned Tuesday that her son had been suspended from school for three days last week for fighting.
Hall said school officials sent home a note informing her that he had been suspended, but her son never gave her the note, she said.
When he returned to school Wednesday, he and the other boys were punished.
Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 19 March 2004
State panel seeks ban on student spankings
By Jan Murphy
A ban on paddling in public schools could be in place by the end of year, making Pennsylvania the 29th state to outlaw the form of discipline.
The State Board of Education gave its final approval to rules yesterday that, among other things, prohibit corporal punishment but allow reasonable force to be used in some situations. Those situations include ones involving a disturbance, a weapon or when a student poses a threat to a teacher or others.
Most districts are believed to have put an end to spanking years ago, but board officials say it may still be practiced in some schools because there is no law or rule barring it. Midstate school districts contacted said they have not allowed corporal punishment in years.
Board member Edith Isacke, who led the committee studying the proposed ban, said, "Most corporal punishment that is happening is occurring in the elementary grades, and we don't want children to be afraid to come to school."
Another board member, Larry Wittig, asked if the ban would apply to alternative schools that deal with aggressive students and possibly "crimp their style."
State Board Executive Director Jim Buckheit said the only public schools exempted would be ones that use a private provider to provide educational services, such as running an alternative school.
During the hearings, the ban drew only limited opposition from a guidance counselor and a handful of conservative Republican lawmakers, Isacke said.
Rep. Samuel Rohrer, R-Berks, was among the lawmakers who didn't support the corporal punishment ban.
"There's body of evidence to say it is an appropriate thing to do for some behavioral actions," he said. "Maybe not always the first thing to do, but it's been an appropriate long-standing method for some time and they ought to let that up to the local school board and teacher to decide when it's appropriate."
The overwhelming majority of people who offered input supported the ban, Isacke said. The ban gained the support of all 12 State Board members attending yesterday's meeting.
After the meeting, James Fogarty, executive director of the Schuylkill Intermediate Unit, voiced surprise at Wittig's suggestion that corporal punishment should be allowed in alternative schools.
He said his unit has two alternative schools and neither uses or intends to use corporal punishment.
Before the corporal punishment ban can take effect, it requires the stamp of approval of the House and Senate education committees, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the attorney general's office and must be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Copyright 2004 The Patriot-News. Used with permission.
Indianapolis Star, 20 March 2004
IPS may reconsider paddling policy
2 School 48 teachers on suspension over spanking of 6 boys get support from parents
By Kim L. Hooper
The investigation of two teachers by child-protection workers for their roles in the spanking of six boys at Indianapolis Public School 48 this week likely will lead officials to re-evaluate the use of corporal punishment in the district.
"As a result of this incident, I believe the board will revisit the policy and could possibly change it," said IPS Superintendent Duncan Pat Pritchett.
But not everyone supports a ban on student paddling. Teachers need the option to discipline children who fail to follow school rules for conduct and behavior, supporters say.
"There are parents like myself who don't believe that spanking, when done properly, is abuse," said School Board member Michael D. Brown, whose two children attend IPS schools. He said his 8-year-old son has been paddled by school officials.
Children's advocates contend that discipline using physical violence sends the wrong message to children.
Indianapolis Public Schools officials confirmed that the Child Protection Services division of the Marion County Office of Family and Children is investigating third-grade teacher Rachelle B. Phifer and fifth-grade teacher Ulysses Coleman Jr. in the paddling incident.
Both are teachers at School 48 at 34th Street and Central Avenue. Phifer had Coleman administer the paddling of six students, all 9-year-old boys in the same class. Several were involved in fights last week, disruptive behavior believed linked to gangs.
One boy was treated Thursday at Methodist Hospital, according to his mother, who said the blows left bruises and red swelling on his buttocks. The teachers have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation by child-welfare workers.
When contacted Friday at home, Coleman declined to comment. Phifer could not be reached.
Pritchett has told teachers he prefers they not use corporal punishment, even though Indiana is one of 22 states that allow it. IPS' policy allows a wooden paddle to be used in spankings -- provided it is flat and no larger than a half-inch think, 4 inches wide and 18 inches long -- or the open palm of the hand.
The policy allows the punishment in elementary schools, not middle and high schools. Still, most elementaries don't allow it, School 48 does.
The school's two suspended teachers have received support from parents in phone calls to the school and in comments on a feedback forum sponsored by www.IndyStar.com.
Charles "Tony" Knight runs a pee-wee basketball league for IPS elementary schools and said Coleman volunteers Saturdays to coach the fifth-grade boys and girls teams for School 48. Knight called Coleman a positive influence for children and the community.
"I can't imagine him intentionally harming students," Knight said. "He's one of those proactive African-American males who tries to make a difference in the lives of young people."
Tuscaloosa News, Alabama, 24 March 2004
Disagree with story about coach
Dear Editor: In reading The Tuscaloosa News on March 11, I noticed on the front-page upper fold a story titled "Suit filed against coach for paddling."
Copyright © 2002 The Tuscaloosa News
Tuscaloosa News, Alabama, 25 March 2004
Support for Coach Griffin
Dear Editor: I am writing to
express my support for a man that I have admired for many years.
That man is Coach Mike Griffin.
Copyright © 2002 The Tuscaloosa News
The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 23 March 2004
Charge dismissed against Guthrie teacher
By Greg Elwell
GUTHRIE -- A Logan County district judge threw out a charge of abuse by caretaker against a Guthrie special education teacher Monday.
Judge William Wheeler said the alleged actions by defendant Lisa Gaye Williams, including spanking a special-needs child with a belt and hitting her with a piece of rubber tubing, would be appropriate actions in response to the actions of the child.
Wheeler said the acts of violence were not gratuitous or an excessive use of force, Logan County District Attorney Rob Hudson said.
Williams, 43, was pleased with the decision and tearful, her attorney Richard O'Carroll said.
"When the matter is fully resolved, she is looking forward to going back to work," he said.
Hudson said the state has not decided whether it will appeal the decision, but if the truth came out, he is happy.
Hudson said he was disappointed in the testimony of a witness who testified Williams had "tapped" the child. In earlier written statements, that witness used the word "hit," he said.
Williams could still face disciplinary action from Guthrie Public Schools officials if they decide she used corporal punishment on the child, Hudson said.
"The schools still have a tough decision to make," Hudson said.
"She's not out of the woods yet."
© The Oklahoma Publishing Co. and its subsidiary, NewsOK.com.
Indianapolis Star, 25 March 2004
IPS incident should show the harm of school paddling
By Ruth Holladay
The paddling administered last week to six third-grade boys at Indianapolis Public School 48 may be the blow felt around the state.
It should be -- hard and stinging and painful enough so that the law permitting an adult to inflict such punishment on a little person in our schools is forever erased from the books.
That's the goal of a group of mental health and child welfare advocates, who in the past have attempted to modify Indiana Code 31-34-1-15 -- with help from Rep. John Day, D-Indianapolis.
"I've sponsored three or four bills to eliminate the practice," Day says. "The climate was not very hospitable."
The law upholds "the right of a parent, guardian or custodian to use reasonable corporal punishment when disciplining a child."
"It is about time to bite the bullet again and try," Andrea Marshall, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, said with a sigh. "Of course, it took us about 11 years to get the fatality review team legislation passed. We know in Indiana it is never going to be easy."
The fatality review law mandates an investigation whenever a child's death is suspicious or sudden.
In the past, says Marshall, opposition to reform of the corporal punishment law came from a vague but vocal coalition of religious and right-wing groups. They did not want to lose their parental and (they say) biblical rights to hit their kids, and they did not want the government interfering.
Marshall's organization does not oppose parental spanking.
"There is a difference between what parents choose to do in their homes and what is done in public situations by nonfamily members," she says. "Our organization does not take a position against spanking by parents. We do take a position that advocates for positive discipline, and we can find no proof that spanking has a positive outcome."
Quite the opposite. Overwhelming data shows that paddling is a quick fix and a lazy way to administer punishment. It demeans children and does nothing to correct underlying behavioral problems, says Sarah Lieber-Hale, a social worker with The Villages, an Indiana child-welfare agency.
It's this "overwhelming data" (from the American Academy of Pediatrics and university studies) that has led 27 states to ban corporal punishment in schools, says Lieber-Hale, adding, "I can't believe that in 2004, we are even having this conversation."
Marion County juvenile court Judge James Payne echoes that thought by noting that the law is legal nonsense. "What is reasonable discipline? Is it reasonable to spank on the buttocks with your hand? How about a hairbrush, or paddle, or an extension cord? How about the thighs, or lower buttocks?"
The bottom line, he says, is obvious. "You should never corporally punish somebody else's kid. You just can't do it in this day and age."
That two IPS teachers did so has opened the floodgates not only for debate but decision making as well. While it may take years to change state law, the Indianapolis Public School Board will address this issue, "the sooner the better," says board President Marianna Zaphiriou. She expects it to come up at their April or May meeting.
"One of our biggest challenges is to provide a safe and healthy learning environment," she says. "Does corporal punishment have any place in that environment?"
However, the board also must adopt a community standard, she adds.
Now, here is the really disturbing part. So far, she has heard only from people who want the schools to keep corporal punishment.
Isn't it time for the rest of us to speak out?
Ruth Holladay's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Meridian Star, Mississippi, 25 March 2004
Carver's former assistant principal condemns paddling
PRINCIPAL Ralph McLaney, former Carver Middle School
assistant principal, looks over memos and letters regarding his
decision not to paddle students. McLaney worked for the Meridian
Public School District from July until September 2003. He lives
in Brandon with his wife and three daughters, and is currently
looking for a job. Photo by Georgia E. Frye/The Meridian Star
Paddle when necessaryWard said he didn't want to discuss why McLaney left Carver. Ward said paddling has been approved by the Meridian School Board and is used at Carver when he believes it is necessary.
"We do paddle students, but we also offer other types of discipline such as in-school suspension and out-of-school suspension," he said. "Not every student that gets into trouble is paddled."
McLaney also said he felt uncomfortable paddling students because he was afraid of hurting them.
"This is not something that is aboveboard," he said. "School supply stores don't even sell paddles anymore, the district manufactures them in its maintenance shop."
While corporal punishment is banned in 28 states, it is still used in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee. School districts in New Orleans, Atlanta and Jackson, however, have banned paddling in schools.
The Federal Office of Civil Rights reports that during the 2000-2001 school year, 495 students were enrolled at Carver.
During that time, the office said, more than half of the students received corporal punishment. The report also said that 75 of those who were paddled were female and 180 were male.
Autry backs paddlingThe office also said that of the 7,080 students enrolled in the Meridian Public School District during that time, 1,010, or almost 23 percent, were paddled.
Meridian School Superintendent Sylvia Autry said she initially was unaware that McLaney left Carver because he refused to paddle students.
"I did not see indications in his behavior or in his personality that he enjoyed the role of assistant principal," Autry said.
Autry also said that while paddling is used at Carver and the other schools in the district, it is not used repeatedly on the same student. She agreed with McLaney that paddling is a quick and convenient form of punishment.
Dr. Robert Fathman, president of the National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools, said that paddling affects each student differently but almost always causes students to be angry or afraid.
"It can be very damaging physically, but it also hurts the other students because it is distracting," Fathman said. "And students learn best in a calm atmosphere."
© 2003 The Meridian Star All Rights Reserved.
Citizen-Times, Asheville, North Carolina, 27 March 2004
Clay case awakens school spanking concerns of parents
By Lynde Hedgpeth
HAYESVILLE - When Tami Smith's 10-year-old son got in trouble at school in February, she told the principal it was OK to spank him.
But when she later found bruises on her son's leg, she decided principal Mickey Noe had gone too far.
"I believe in corporal punishment," Smith said. "I have no problem with a child being corrected, but when there's bruising or marks left, then, yes, it was excessive."
Now Noe faces a rare misdemeanor child abuse charge in Clay County court, brought by the boy's father, Joel Smith. Researchers at the University of North Carolina could find only one instance of a similar charge against a principal, a charge that was dismissed.
The use of paddling as punishment in schools has dropped to less than one-third of what it was in 1980, according to the National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools. At least 28 states have banned corporal punishment, but the practice has remained legal in Southeastern states such as North Carolina, where broad state laws give school boards and principals the freedom to set their own policies.
Officials in districts with no-spanking policies such as Asheville City and Buncombe County schools consider corporal punishment outdated and ineffective.
"It was just part of the old school, and the new breed of educators coming along knew that that was not the solution to any type of a problem," said Dorland Winkler, a former principal who has worked for Asheville City Schools for more than 30 years. He could not remember the last time he saw corporal punishment used.
A thing of the past
Some Asheville parents were surprised to find out corporal punishment is still practiced in the state.
"I would be so disappointed if I thought that was what my school had to resort to for punishment," said Liz Love-Brotak, whose 9-year-old daughter attends Jones Elementary in Asheville.
But many educators in Western North Carolina, including Noe, see corporal punishment as effective when used as a last resort and with parental cooperation. It can also act as a bad-behavior deterrent for elementary-age children.
Noe said he followed state laws about corporal punishment when spanking Smith's son, even going farther than required by giving Smith a choice between paddling and losing a week of recess. She told him to do both.
"I've never seen this before on these kind of facts," said Zeyland McKinney, Noe's lawyer in Robbinsville. North Carolina judges have ruled that educators cannot be found civilly liable for corporal punishment-related injuries unless they could have reasonably foreseen that the punishment might cause permanent injury.
North Carolina educators also have immunity from criminal conviction unless the corporal punishment caused or was likely to cause permanent injury, or the punishment was given out of malice.
Both principals who use and don't use corporal punishment agreed that parental involvement makes all punishment more effective.
Ask permission first
Some districts, such as Haywood County Schools, require parental consent for corporal punishment.
Though Canton Middle School principal Regina Lambert does not use or allow paddling at her school, she always asks parents to help design punishments for students who deserve something harsher than after-school detention. Lambert said though she prefers not to use corporal punishment at all, she has allowed a few parents to come to school to paddle their own children.
Haywood County parent Robin Black has children at Canton Middle School and Meadowbrook Elementary. She said parents need to know the administrators and the corporal punishment policy at their children's schools.
Black said she had considered her children's dispositions toward spankings when deciding whether to sign corporal punishment permission slips for them. She allowed it for her 10-year-old son, but not for her 14-year-old daughter, because her daughter responds to different types of punishments, she said.
Black said her relationship with the administration at her son's school was essential to her decision.
"I trust the administration at the elementary. I've had two kids go through there," Black said. "You have to know the people at the school. You have to be involved."
Jones Elementary parent Wanda Lester said she would rather administer corporal punishment at home - something she rarely does - than allow another person to spank her son.
"I don't know how much anger is in that person," she said. Some state groups still lobby for an end to school spankings. At its 2003 state convention, the North Carolina Parents and Teachers Association passed a resolution calling for an end to corporal punishment statewide, citing other national groups that oppose corporal punishment such as the North Carolina Middle School Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of State Boards of Education and the National Association of School Nurses.
In Clay County, it remains unclear whether the charge against principal Noe will bring about change. Superintendent Scott Penland said he is waiting for the results of the case in court before re-examining the district's policy. The case will go to court April 7.
What the law says
State law allows North Carolina school districts to set their own corporal punishment policies. If a district allows it, it must follow these requirements:
-- Corporal punishment may not be given in a classroom or in front of other children.
-- Students must be told ahead of time what behaviors can warrant corporal punishment.
--Only a teacher, substitute teacher, principal, or assistant principal may give paddlings in the presence of another administrator or teacher.
--The school must notify parents when their children receive corporal punishment.
Here's a glance at some area school district's corporal punishment policies.
--Asheville City Schools: not allowed
--Buncombe County Schools: not allowed
--Haywood County Schools: allowed, must be administered by certified personnel and only with parent's permission.
-- Jackson County Schools: not allowed
-- Henderson County Schools: allowed only with parent's permission, in grades 6-12, must be given by someone the same gender as the student
-- McDowell County Schools: allowed, follows state law
-- Madison County Schools: allowed, follows state law
© Asheville Citizen-Times, 14 O. Henry Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
Indianapolis Star, 28 March 2004
Paddling remains divisive issue
Recent incident at School 48 renews debate over corporal punishment as a disciplinary tool
By Kim L. Hooper
The wooden paddle under the desk of School 14 Principal Liz Odle gets little use. Odle doesn't advocate student spankings and advises her teachers to use other ways to correct bad behavior.
But in 1999-2000, more than 2,200 Indiana students felt the sting of paddling under a corporal punishment policy that gives educators the same disciplinary rights as parents.
Proponents say the practice, allowed in 22 states, gives schools a key tool to show children there are consequences for disruptive behavior.
"If you don't want your child paddled, then every time he or she acts up in school, come get them and take them home," said IPS School Board member Michael D. Brown, who supports spanking as an option for teachers.
But the practice can lead to problems, and there's growing national sentiment to outlaw it.
Detractors say there are more effective ways to discipline students and call paddling a negative response to negative behavior. They say corporal punishment can lead to allegations of abuse, as happened after two teachers at Indianapolis Public School 48 were involved in the paddling of six third-grade boys on March 16.
One boy was treated for bruises and swelling at a local hospital, and the teachers have been suspended pending an investigation by child protection workers.
"If we use violence to counter violence, then the message is lost," said Ted Feinberg, assistant executive director of the National Association of School Psychologists in Bethesda, Md. "It just doesn't work, and it doesn't help the kids who are prone to inappropriate behavior."
Experts say it's critical for schools and parents to set the model for nonviolent behavior. They contend other forms of discipline -- such as loss of privileges, suspensions and detention -- are more effective.
Nadine Block, executive director of the Center for Effective Discipline in Columbus, Ohio, said research shows that children who are repeatedly physically disciplined tend to perform worse academically.
"Kids do not learn in an environment of fear. You have kids paddled for talking in the hallway," said Block, a former teacher and school psychologist. "There is no school of education that teaches how to paddle kids."
Block's organization sponsors a program called End Physical Punishment of Children, which has sponsored SpankOut Day USA each April 30 since 1998 to promote nonviolent ways to teach children appropriate behavior.
The message has been catching on.
Paddling is on decline
More than 340,000 children nationwide were paddled during the 1999-2000 school year (the most recent year for which data are available), down from 1.4 million in 1980, according to the center.
Four years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that states abolish corporal punishment in schools. So far, 28 states have adopted the policy.
Pennsylvania could become the 29th. State education officials there approved a ban on paddling March 19, a proposal now awaiting agreement from state lawmakers.
Indiana is unlikely to follow suit.
The practice of paddling has been on the state's books for at least 30 years. A 1995 revision authorized teachers and school staffers to "take any action that is reasonably necessary" to prevent interference with educational missions.
Another law gives parents and guardians the right to use "reasonable" physical force to discipline a child.
Efforts to ban corporal punishment have been introduced but never passed the General Assembly.
Rep. John Day, D-Indianapolis, said changes are needed.
"Teaching is the only profession where you're allowed to spank a child," he observed.
Day has attempted to outlaw corporal punishment four or five times but has found little support. The last time he proposed a ban was about a decade ago; the measure failed to pass out of committee.
"I don't disagree that we need to exercise discipline; it's how we do it," Day said.
Most schools that use corporal punishment say it's a last resort -- and is done with parents' permission.
At School 14, teachers are encouraged to use other discipline practices, such as setting up conferences with students and teachers to discuss behavior one-on-one.
"We ask them, 'How do you want us to handle this?'" Odle said.
Larry Moore, superintendent of Northwestern Shelby Schools, said his 1,539-student district uses corporal punishment sparingly, and parents are notified in advance and given the chance to object.
Of the five to 10 students paddled in the district during the past three years, most received the punishment at the request of parents, he said.
"We have more questions here from our families as to why we don't do more of it," he said.
That sentiment was evident after the paddlings at School 48. IPS officials said the school received a half-dozen calls in support of the teachers. Letters to The Indianapolis Star after the incident were overwhelmingly in favor of corporal punishment.
Christopher Mracna, a parent with two children attending Perry Township Schools, said his children have never been paddled. But he said he wouldn't object if school officials think it's necessary.
"School officials have my expressed permission to enforce the rules with corporal punishment," Mracna said.
No longer appropriate
Despite such support, some districts say it's more important to spare the rod.
Lawrence Township Schools in Marion County has a human dignity policy that dictates any discipline be dished out in a respectful manner. Paddling, officials said, is not an appropriate part of that formula for the district's 16,207 students.
Shelbyville Central Schools has banned corporal punishment for more than a decade, said Superintendent Jim Peck.
Carmel-Clay Schools might soon follow suit. Corporal punishment is among 30 policies scheduled for revision or elimination in the coming months, said Steve Dillon, director of student services.
"It's been 14 years since I know of anybody using it," Dillon said. "We don't do it, and we don't want to do it."
News Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 30 March 2004
Use of corporal punishment stirs debate in state
Case in Indianapolis puts spotlight on issue again; Allen County, Catholic schools only allow it in self-defense
From The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana is among 22 states that allow public school officials to spank students, an increasingly uncommon disciplinary practice drawing growing criticism nationwide.
But, here in Allen County, all four public school districts and the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend have policies against the use of corporal punishment, officials said. Each policy is worded a little differently, but all come to the conclusion the use of unreasonable force - unless in self-defense - is unacceptable.
Legislative efforts to ban the practice in Indiana have come and gone over the years, but have never passed the General Assembly.
The debate gained momentum in Indianapolis after school officials this month suspended two teachers who administrators said were involved in paddling six 9-year-old boys, including one who was treated at a hospital for bruises and swelling.
Staff writer Charlie Roduta contributed to this report.
All four Allen County public school districts and the 45 schools in the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend have board policies against the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline.
Fort Wayne Community Schools
The physical striking or touching of a student with the intent to induce bodily pain by a school employee or other adult representing the school is not permitted as an option in disciplining students. Alternative practices are to be used.
It is recognized reasonable use of physical force and restraint could be necessary to quell a disturbance threatening physical injury to others, to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects from students, or for the purpose of self-defense.
East Allen County Schools
Northwest Allen County Schools
Professional staff should not find it necessary to resort to physical force or violence to compel obedience. If all other means fail, staff members can remove a student from the classroom or school through suspension or expulsion procedures.
Professional staff as well as support staff, within the scope of their employment, can use and apply reasonable force and restraint to quell a disturbance threatening physical injury to others, to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects upon or within the control of the student, in self-defense, or for the protection of persons or property.
When an employee inflicts unnecessary, unreasonable, irrational or inappropriate force on a student, he or she could be subject to board discipline as well as criminal assault charges.
Southwest Allen County Schools
To protect other persons from physical injury.
To protect property of the school or of others.
To remove a student if the student has refused to comply with requests to refrain from disruptive behaviors.
© 2004 News Sentinel and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
THE ARCHIVE index
www.corpun.com Main menu page
Copyright © Colin Farrell 2004
Page updated: September 2004