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School CP - November 2013

Corpun file 24953 at

Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming, 18 November 2013

Wyoming schools can paddle students, but don't

By Aerin Curtis
Wyoming Tribune Eagle


CHEYENNE -- Wyoming is one of 19 states nationwide that allow schools to paddle students.

But it doesn't appear that many in the state use the practice, according to corporal punishment data collected by the U.S. Department of Education and the Center for Effective Discipline.

"It's not even a discussion," Laramie County School District 1 assistant superintendent of instruction Tracey Kinney said. "It seems antiquated as a disciplinary measure in schools, so I don't hear it discussed."

According to data gathered by the Office of Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Education, no Wyoming students were paddled in 2006, the last time statewide data was released. Nationally, there were 223,190 students disciplined that way that year.

Since the turn of the century, the largest number of students in Wyoming to experience corporal punishment in a school was eight in 2000.

Nationally, there were 342,038 students paddled that year.

The practice of corporal punishment, or paddling, isn't specifically mentioned in school handbooks or discipline policies in either LCSD1 or LCSD2. But both districts do give examples of what punishments might be used if students misbehave.

LCSD1 rewrote its policies last year, creating the district's elementary progressive discipline matrix and the secondary discipline matrix.

"We don't exercise corporal punishment," Kinney said.

At the elementary level, responses to misbehavior include having to miss recess, talking with the principal or suspension. The response depends on the level of the behavior, according to the matrix.

"(Paddling) seems kind of counterintuitive, especially if you have a youngster being physically aggressive with another student," Kinney said.

For older students, punishments include things like a warning, community service, loss of privileges, in- or out-of-school suspension and expulsion, according to the matrix.

In LCSD2, school handbooks point to discipline responses like students being sent out of class, suspended and expelled.

State statute says that teachers and administrators will be "immune from civil and criminal liability in the exercise of reasonable corporal discipline." But it also has to be authorized by a district's policy.

LCSD1 Board of Trustees Chairman Brian Farmer said the topic hasn't been a discussion since he's been on the board.

It also hasn't been a recent topic in LCSD2, Board of Trustees Chairwoman Esther Davison said.

"I've been on the school board for five years, and there's never been a discussion," she said.

Prior to being on the board, she was a teacher in the district for 21 years, she said. It wasn't a topic during that time.

"I don't think we've ever touched a kid. I don't think that's done," LCSD2 Superintendent Jack Cozort said. "I just don't see most districts doing things of that sort anymore."

Corpun file 25087 at

Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, 24 November 2013

Corporal punishment persists in Florida schools

Educators, parents don't always agree about it

By Denise Smith Amos

A wooden paddle

Paddling in schools has been declining for years across the country and across Florida. But in North Florida it maintains a fast foothold in 20 public school districts and in uncounted private schools.

In 1988, one of the last years all Florida school districts allowed in-school spanking, 84,495 kids were physically punished in public schools. Just 20 years later, in 2008, only 4,869 students were struck in 30 of Florida's 67 school districts.

That number has fallen even more, to 2,996 kids in 2012, according to recent Florida Department of Education figures. Most of those paddlings were at schools in North Florida.

No one knows how many more kids got swats in private schools. They don't have to report it.

But sometimes corporal punishment seems to go too far, even to parents who believe that sparing the rod spoils the child.

Orri Jones is one of those parents. She thought she was doing the right thing when in October she gave permission for the principal at Joshua Christian Academy to paddle her fourth-grade son for yelling at a teacher. Last year when the principal paddled him, Jones said, the mild swats bruised her son's pride, not his backside.

This time it was different.


Without Jones' knowledge, a male staffer hit her son twice with a wooden paddle. The boy cried later, complaining he was too sore to sit. Two days later, because he was still in pain, Jones took him to Memorial Hospital, where an emergency-room doctor noted a 6-inch-long, 3-inch-wide bruise on his butt shaped like a paddle.

Jones called police. Jacksonville Officer Lee A. Hendricks wrote in his report, "The injury appeared to be excessive for 'punishment.'"

No charges were filed. The school's principal, Alice Roberts, denies the school practices corporal punishment and says Jones' story is only "half true." She wouldn't say more.

Meanwhile, Jones feels guilt and anger, saying she didn't know that by picking a school that paddles she was putting her child in danger.

"You would have had to hit him with a lot of force to bring contusions on his bottom," Jones said. "There's got to be other ways to discipline kids."

No longer the norm

Schools and educators have found many non-physical ways to discipline kids. Corporal punishment is no longer the norm in most of the nation's schools.

"It's considered a deplorable practice," said Linda Johnson, head of the Hendricks Day School, a private school that does not condone physical punishment.

Over the last three decades, dozens of child psychology and medical groups warned that spanking caused hidden physical and emotional damage to kids. During that same time period, the number and breadth of civil lawsuits against schools mushroomed.

Now 31 states ban all corporal punishment in public schools. Two states, New Jersey and Iowa, also ban it in private schools.

That leaves Florida, Georgia and 17 other states that allow corporal punishment in schools. Florida considers it a local school board matter, though districts have to report to the state instances of corporal punishment and other forms of discipline.

The most recent U.S. civil rights figures from 2006 show 223,190 U.S. students were legally hit in public schools, prompting about 20,000 to seek emergency medical treatment, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

"It is disturbing and very embarrassing ... that we still hit our students with wooden boards that are considered weapons by TSA [Transportation Security Administration] and in many statehouses," said Deborah Sendek, program director at the Center for Effective Discipline.

The center on its website links spanking to lower ACT scores, noting that in 2010, three-quarters of the 30 non-paddling states had higher-than-average ACT scores and nearly two-thirds of these states had above-average rates of improvement in scores over 18 years.

On the other hand, 75 percent of spanking states' students scored below average on the ACT and half had improvement rates falling short of the national average. Nine of the 10 lowest average scores were from paddling states.

In all, 98 of the nation's 100 largest school districts forbid corporal punishment at school, including Florida's six largest school districts, including Duval County.

In favor

Proponents of paddling say large school districts often struggle with student behavior and unflattering test scores and graduation rates, in part because teachers fail to manage classrooms and students lack discipline.

"My personal opinion: if we would go back to [spanking], a lot of the behavior in school would probably not be in the extreme state it's in," said Rev. Deryle Adkison, school administrator at Old Plank Christian Academy in Jacksonville, where he is the designated discipliner.

"You've got to have control in your classroom ... or the learning environment will not be conducive to education. You see that in the public school system all the time."

He said he has spanked five kids since school started in August. He never hits them more than three times, but students don't want to be sent to this office.

Adkison added that paddling has to be done carefully and never in anger.

"If you holler and scream at the time of the discipline, that's not administering discipline," he said. "The child is going to view it as being beat up instead of being disciplined."

Part of the opposition to paddling comes from long-held fears that it is being imposed unfairly on disadvantaged students.

African-American students represent 17.13 percent of enrolled students but 35.67 percent of students receiving corporal punishment. And students with disabilities were only 14 percent of the school population but 19 percent of those receiving corporal punishment, according to an ACLU and Human Rights Watch report in 2009.

"Studies show that beatings can damage the trust between educator and student, corrode the educational environment, and leave the student unable to learn effectively, making it more likely that [the student] will drop out of school," the ACLU's report said.

Its use is limited

Even proponents of paddling say that they limit how often it is used.

The frequency of in-school beatings in North Florida in 2011-12 ranged from 18 in Nassau County schools (0.16 percent of its 11,115 students) to 355 spankings at Washington County schools (10.29 percent of its 3,449 students).

It's rare even when it's allowed. Last year 13 children were paddled in Nassau schools, said Sharyl Wood, executive director of administrative services in the district.

"Generally, it's used when parents requested it," she said.

If corporal punishment were outlawed, "it would just take one thing off the table ... but it wouldn't put a dent in our disciplinary arsenal." she said.

Recently, Nassau County conducted a public hearing on corporal punishment, but no one spoke up, she said.

Other supporters point out that parents and students who are given a choice of paddling or a suspension will often choose the quicker, albeit more painful, option.

In New Orleans, for instance, several hundred students, parents and alumni protested the elimination of corporal punishment at St. Augustine High, an all-boys Catholic school, in 2011. National church leaders said it was one of the last Catholic schools to still allow paddling; nationally the Catholic Church forbade it in schools. Last year the school gave in and adopted the no-swatting policy.

In recent years, bills that would ban corporal punishment have been introduced in Florida's Legislature and in Congress but did not go far.


Teachers and other instructional personnel shall have the authority to undertake any of the following actions in managing student behavior and ensuring the safety of all students in their classes and school and their opportunity to learn in an orderly and disciplined classroom:

(k) Use corporal punishment according to school board policy and at least the following procedures, if a teacher feels that corporal punishment is necessary:

1. The use of corporal punishment shall be approved in principle by the principal before it is used, but approval is not necessary for each specific instance in which it is used. The principal shall prepare guidelines for administering such punishment which identify the types of punishable offenses, the conditions under which the punishment shall be administered, and the specific personnel on the school staff authorized to administer the punishment.

2. A teacher or principal may administer corporal punishment only in the presence of another adult who is informed beforehand, and in the student's presence, of the reason for the punishment.

3. A teacher or principal who has administered punishment shall, upon request, provide the student's parent with a written explanation of the reason for the punishment and the name of the other adult who was present.

Alternatives to physical discipline

Positive Behavioral Supports teach children why what they did was wrong and give them tools to improve their behavior. School districts across the U.S. have implemented PBS, and have seen substantial declines in disciplinary referrals and improvements in school-wide safety.

Social-skills instruction programs help students learn how to make good choices and teach them the social skills they need to behave appropriately such as listening, asking questions politely, cooperation and sharing ... Students are provided reinforcement and feedback and are taught self-monitoring skills.

Character education programs include teaching children to think about how their actions affect others, how to manage anger, and how to make good choices.

Student recognition programs teach and recognize commonly held values including pride, respect, responsibility, caring and honesty. An awards assembly honors students who demonstrate these values and an attempt is made to make sure all students are honored sometime during the year.

Peer mediation is when students are given specific instruction in active listening, restating problem situations from their own and disputants' perspectives, anger management, identifying feelings, brainstorming and developing solutions to problems. Peer mediators are trained to help solve problems that might otherwise escalate into conflict and result in punitive actions.

-- Second Step violence prevention program integrates academics with social and emotional learning. Kids from preschool through Grade 8 learn and practice social skills, such as empathy, emotion management, problem solving, and cooperation.

-- FAST Track Program is a long-term prevention program to prevent chronic and severe conduct problems for high-risk children. It includes the school, the home, and the individual in its intervention. Its main goals are to increase communication and bonds between these three domains, enhance children's social, cognitive, and problem-solving skills, improve peer relationships, and ultimately decrease disruptive behavior in the home and school. FAST Track specifically targets children identified in kindergarten for disruptive behavior and poor peer relations.

-- Restorative Justice conferences help students learn to be accountable for their actions. These involve conferences of the offender, persons offended, the parents, and school representatives who have an opportunity to tell the offender how they were affected and what they need to happen to go on. The object is for the offender to act to correct the situation: restore relationships, apologize, pay back, clean up, or do community service.

Traditional punishment alternatives include:

-- Use of discipline codes, school psychologists, school counselors and community mental health professionals and agencies.

-- In-school and out-of-school suspension, expulsion, Saturday school, restitution, detention and parent pick-up programs.

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