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The Capital, Annapolis, Maryland, 6 February 1987
Pupil paddling ban urged
School spanking called 'abusive'
By Pat Riviere
Opponents to corporal punishment in Maryland schools whacked away at a House committee yesterday, saying that spanking is a form of child abuse.
For 90 minutes, parents, teachers and other professionals asked members of the House Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee to approve legislation (HB 16) banning corporal punishment in the public schools.
"There is no valid reason for administering corporal punishment in our schools," Del. William C. Bevan, D-Prince George's County, told the committee. "There is no medical, social, educational, or psychological evidence that argues for maintaining the practice of this type of cruel punishment at state and local levels."
Bevan, the bill sponsor, championed identical legislation last year. During the 1986 legislative session, the bill passed the House of Delegates but was defeated in the Senate after opponents exempted all jurisdictions that currently allow corporal punishment.
Sixteen jurisdictions in Maryland, including Anne Arundel County, permit corporal punishment. Five counties and Baltimore City prohibit corporal punishment and four other counties acted last year to ban it.
Nine states have outlawed corporal punishment in their schools.
"No one, no matter who they may be, should ever be allowed to get away with hitting another person, except in self-defense," said Bevan, a junior high school principal for 17 years.
"Corporal punishment constitutes a form of child abuse," said Gloria Goldfaden, executive director of the statewide Parents Against Child Abuse. Ms Goldfaden said corporal punishment was used nearly 3,000 times in Maryland schools during the last two years.
In Anne Arundel County there were 2,424 instance of corporal punishment from 1982 through 1986, she said.
C. Berry Carter, deputy superintendent for Anne Arundel County Schools, disputed that number.
"I don't know where they are getting some of those figures," Carter said after the hearing.
No one testified against the legislation, but Carter said the county schools oppose the bill.
"We think it should be a local option," he said.
The State Department of Education and the Governor's Office for Children and Youth support the proposed legislation.
Knoxville Journal, Tennessee, 7 February 1987
Policy makes paddling easier
Administrators want educators to be able to spank more often
(extract) By Leslie Henderson, The Knoxville Journal
GATLINBURG -- Knox County School administrators want to be able to use paddlings more often for discipline.
"Paddling is appropriate discipline in many cases. We shouldn't say 'only as a last resort' or 'only in extreme cases', Knox County Assistant Superintendent Tommy Schumpert said Friday.
"Sometimes spanking resolves a situation so that it's over quickly and you go on ... Our present policy says it has to be almost terrible to use it.
"We do not feel like Tennessee ranking third is bad," Schumpert said, referring to a recent study which showed Tennessee with the third-highest rate of paddlings administered to school children in the country.
The recommended policy change was explained to administrators and board members Friday during the first day of a two-day-long workshop retreat in Gatlinburg.
Schumpert said the only significant change in the newly-revised board policy on corporal punishment is the elimination of the language which says paddling is only to be used as a last resort. He confirmed after the briefing that the change means it will be easier for educators to choose to paddle for discipline.
School officials could not estimate how often paddling is used presently, but Bill Orr, the head of administrative services, said it varies considerably from school to school and is used most often in the higher grades.
Houston Post, Texas, 12 February 1987
Survey showed strong support
Raymond: Public seems to favor paddling
By Bill Hensel Jr.
The longtime, controversial practice of paddling children at school to keep them in line may continue in the Houston Independent School District because the community appears to want it, Superintendent Joan Raymond said Wednesday.
While Raymond stopped short of saying she would recommend schools continue paddling as a form of discipline, she said her position has always been that she would go along with the preference of the community and school board on the issue.
The superintendent said an informal citizen survey on the issue of corporal punishment was conducted several months ago and showed almost overwhelming support for it.
"I am told it is pretty heavily in favor of maintaining it," Raymond said. "I am surprised, to be quite frank with you, at the degree to which they support it."
She is expected to raise the issue in a regularly scheduled meeting of the HISD board next week.
Hearings were conducted last fall to determine how citizens in HISD felt about physical punishment as a disciplinary tool in schools.
Many of the people who spoke at the hearings were teachers who favored paddling. Another group, People Opposed to Paddling of Students Inc., urged the abolition of paddling.
HISD board member Herbert Melton last year began pushing for HISD to do away with paddling.
Statistics released last year show paddling varies widely from school to school, with some schools paddling no students and others reporting thousands of incidents annually.
Corporal punishment appears to be used most at the middle-school level. Traditionally, more discipline problems are reported at that level because of the age of the youngsters.
Raymond admitted when she took over the superintendent's position in September that she opposed corporal punishment in schools. She said most of her concerns revolve around its inconsistent use.
"I am not opposed to corporal punishment, but I am opposed to it in schools," said Raymond. "I believe in it in the home."
Jimmy Dunne, president of POPS, said he will continue to publicize severe cases of paddling and to speak before school boards to have paddling abolished. The practice has been abolished in Britain and in several areas of the United States in recent years.
"I would hope she (Raymond) has the courage of her convictions to show some leadership and ask the school board to abolish it or phase it out gradually," said Dunne, a former teacher who is now a state employee.
"Also, I think the hearings were probably weighted in favor of the principals and teachers who took advantage of going to them more than the parents did," Dunne said.
Sidney Daily News, Ohio, 18 February 1987
Corporal punishment not used much locally
In the not too distant past, pupils who misbehaved in school often were straightened out by a not-so-gentle whack on the backsides with a wooden paddle.
Paddling, or corporal punishment, was a common occurrence. But not so today. "It is not used a whole lot any more," said David McKay, director of personnel and community relations for Sidney City schools.
A check of 10 Shelby County area school districts showed that all of the school officials reserve the right to use corporal punishment, as is permitted by state law; however, local school officials say they use it only when other disciplinary methods fail. And one school principal, Vernon Rosenbeck of Russia local schools, said it is used in that district only on the elementary level.
Officials at Sidney, Anna, Botkins, Fairlawn, Fort Laramie, Hardin-Houston, Jackson Center, Russia, Lehman and Minster schools say the move away from corporal punishment has occurred for several reasons.
Parents have objected to it, lawsuits have been filed over it, and school officials in general are not sure how effective paddling is, said Connie Schneider, Botkins Schools principal. For some pupils it works, for some it doesn't, school officials say.
Jerry Argabrite, Fort Laramie schools superintendent, said educators over the years have developed "a larger menu" of disciplinary alternatives to reach those pupils who exhibit behavior problems.
Thomas Coyne, Fairlawn Schools superintendent, said, "It looks like (corporal punishment) is on the way out."
Charleston Daily Mail, West Virginia, 18 February 1987
House Education Bill Eases Paddling Rules
By Jack Deutsch
The House Education Committee has easily endorsed a bill making it easier for teachers to paddle students, including some handicapped children.
The passage of the bill Tuesday followed testimony from the president of the state Association of Elementary School Principals, who complained that opponents of corporal punishment always emphasize that paddling is a negative experience.
"Where is the positive? Why is it always the negative?" asked Frank Devono, president of the principals association.
Devono spoke in favor of the bill, which would remove the 12-hour "cooling off" period. Under current state law, principals must wait 12 hours after warning students of a paddling before carrying out the punishment.
Devono said educators didn't want the change "so we can smack every kid in the building." Rather, he said the 12-hour wait makes the punishment ineffective and causes students awaiting paddling to become anxious.
Ken Legg of the West Virginia Service Personnel Association said students were out of control and corporal punishment was one way of getting them back in line. Bus drivers, who are represented by Legg's group, have had to put up with students performing such antics as throwing apple cores at them, Legg said.
Legg, though, opposed an amendment that would have allowed bus drivers to paddle children. Some of the bill's opponents used words like "hit" and "beat" rather than "paddle" in discussing the issue.
"They (educators) don't beat. They paddle and spank," Legg said.
State School Superintendent Tom McNeel spoke against the bill, saying the 12-hour cooling off period was a good law.
"I have seen corporal punishment be abused . . . " McNeel said.
Pat Lyons, president of West Virginia Parents Anonymous, said there were other ways to discipline students. Lyons said she had taught at a correctional center for youths, and most of the children there bad been paddled while they attended school.
"If paddling worked, they wouldn't be in a correctional institution," she said.
The bill was passed 15-6. The three Kanawha County delegates who were present -- Chairman Lyle Sattes, Dee Caperton and Sharon Spencer -- opposed the bill.
Del. Patrick Murphy, D-Berkeley, suggested an amendment that would allow principals and designated teachers to paddle some handicapped children. Those handicapped students who are "mainstreamed," or in the regular classroom, would be affected.
Murphy said it was unfair to exempt certain students within the same classroom. The amendment passed.
The committee defeated an amendment sponsored by Spencer that would have allowed county school boards to prohibit paddling in their school systems.
The committee also defeated a compromise amendment which would have set a one-hour "cooling off" period. Caperton said the students could not be paddled excessively or in anger, and the waiting period was needed.
Del. Percy Ashcraft, D-Harrison, said the waiting period could prove to be troublesome, particularly if an infraction occurred at the end of a day.
"If we're going to have corporal punishment, let's do it right," he said.
Sattes, at the end of the 2½-hour debate, urged his committee members to defeat the bill. By passing the bill, Sattes said students were being told that problems could be resolved through violence.
"This is not the answer in the long run for our society," Sattes said.
The Houston Chronicle, Texas, 21 February 1987
Parents, teachers favor corporal punishment
By Jon Verboon
After conducting thousands of interviews and 21 public hearings, Houston school district officials Friday said most of parents and teachers surveyed voiced support for continuing corporal punishment at district schools.
Students polled were almost evenly split.
Houston Independent School District board members instructed Superintendent Joan Raymond to prepare recommendations for alternatives to corporal punishment should the board elect to discontinue the practice. They also suggested she recommend ways to eliminate any inconsistencies in paddling students at the various schools.
Records show corporal punishment, or "pops," were administered to students 17,666 times during the past school year. Of those, 7,307 cases involved elementary students, 9,387 involved middle school students and 972 involved high school students.
Current policy, which has its roots in a 1937 district code, allows principals to permit corporal punishment as a last resort. It must be administered in the presence of a witness and only with parental consent. No more than three swats on the buttocks are allowed.
Raymond Smith, principal of Kashmere High School, told board members he does not allow paddling. He said he believes it only provides negative reinforcement for students at Kashmere, although he did not say it would be inappropriate at other campuses.
But two other principals, one each from an elementary and a middle school, said they use corporal punishment when all other efforts to correct behavioral problems fail.
The elementary educator said if a child is paddled on two occasions, officials conduct an in-depth review to determine possible causes of the problem. And the middle school principal said a poll of his students showed they favored retaining corporal punishment because they knew it was not abused at his school.
Nonetheless, school trustee Herbert Melton, himself a former HISD principal, said he regretted having used the measure while he was a teacher.
"I'm damned ashamed of it," Melton said.
He said school officials abuse corporal punishment because they want a quick remedy to a problem, and that paddling often can result in future rebellious behavior by a student.
Figures compiled by the HISD staff indicate that corporal punishment is used inconsistently.
For example, even though it is considered a measure of last resort, there were 7,307 paddlings among elementary students last school year. During the same period, there were only 1,305 incidents of alternative disciplinary actions, records show.
Nevertheless, surveys conducted in the past few months at trustees' request show parents and teachers alike retain faith in paddling.
Of nearly 23,000 parents surveyed, about 61 percent favored continued paddling. About 78 percent of nearly 6,000 teachers surveyed also favored continuing the practice. And 6,200 students randomly selected for the poll were about evenly divided.
Board members gave no clear indication Friday that they wanted drastic revisions in the policy, and Raymond offered no recommendations.
She did, however, offer three proposals for consideration: abolishing corporal punishment on the high school level, retaining the existing policy or abolishing it altogether.
She said she would make specific recommendations regarding revising the policy should the board vote to retain it. Those recommendations will be ready next week, she said.
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