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The Enterprise Mountaineer, Waynesville, North Carolina, 19 January 2000
School to review paddling policy
By Peggy Gosselin
The Haywood County Board of Education will review its corporal punishment policy after hearing from the Community Child Protection Team and reviewing a survey of parents on the issue.
"There's no question it's an emotional issue," school board Chairman Mark Swanger said after a meeting Monday with the Community Child Protection Team. "The Haywood County Board of Education is in the process of reviewing all board policies and as part of that process will look at the corporal punishment policy," he said.
The Haywood County Department of Social Services has been discussing corporal punishment for several months and recently brought its concerns to the Community Child Protection Team. The team is mandated by the state to develop minimum standards of what the community expects as appropriate care for children.
"Some parents can't differentiate between corporal punishment and abuse," said DSS Director Tony Beaman, who serves as chairman of the Community Child Protection Team. The group consists of representatives from agencies such as DSS and Kids Advocacy Resource Effort (KARE).
State law does not forbid parents to spank their children, nor does state law forbid corporal punishment by school officials.
"We can't say it's appropriate just because the law allows it," said Dr. Joyce Hooley, a member of the Community Child Protection Team. "It's difficult for us to tell parents they shouldn't hit their children if school employees are allowed to hit them."
Canton Police Chief Bill Guillet, also a member of the CCP team, asked if a letter to the school system from parents stating they did not want their child paddled could spare that child from corporal punishment at school.
Assistant Superintendent Anne Garrett said that it would not. State law and local school board policy allows corporal punishment even if a parent writes a letter to the contrary, she said.
Haywood County Schools conducted a corporal punishment survey this month. Parents were asked if they would support the use of corporal punishment (paddling) as a way to discipline their child after other forms of discipline had been used and as an alternative to in-school or out-of-school suspension.
Parents were also asked if they preferred to be notified before or after their child is paddled.
Overall, 70 percent of the 3,472 parents who responded to the survey favored corporal punishment. Only 65.9 percent, however, supported the use of corporal punishment as an alternative to in-school or out-of-school suspension.
The majority of the parents surveyed (76.4 percent) said they would prefer to be notified before their child is paddled, rather than after, which is one issue the local school board can consider when reviewing the policy, Garrett said.
State law and Haywood County School board policy only require that parents be notified after corporal punishment has been used. Only 5 percent of the parents said they wanted to be notified after a paddling has already occurred, and 14.5 percent had no preference.
"Even though we are not required to notify parents prior to corporal punishment being used, many principals still call parents if possible before a child is paddled," Garrett said.
"We were pleased that so many parents took part in the survey," Swanger said, pointing out that there are often two or more siblings in a household and there are about 7,600 students enrolled in the Haywood County School System.
"We shouldn't be swayed by popular opinion," Dr. Hooley said of the parental survey. "If we listened to popular opinion, black and white children wouldn't be attending school together and women wouldn't have the right to vote. That's not the way we should decide what's best for our children."
Hooley asked if the schools that choose not to use corporal punishment as a disciplinary tool have any more problems than the schools that do.
A recent survey conducted by Kids Advocacy Resource Effort found some parents do not have a lot of parenting skills, said Allison Best-Teague, director of KARE.
"I don't think you can take the opinion of parents that corporal punishment is OK as a reason to continue using corporal punishment," Best-Teague said. "Some parents don't necessarily know what else to do."
As part of KARE's parental education services, discipline is often discussed, Best-Teague said.
"We try to find other means of disciplining children without physically striking the child," she said.
Bethel parent Meridyth Maynard-Taylor encouraged school officials to adopt a zero tolerance policy on corporal punishment.
"It is legal for a substitute teacher, that could be anyone off the street, to go behind closed doors with a witness and perform horrendous acts on our children," Maynard-Taylor said.
Garrett replied that although state law allows a substitute teacher, as well as teachers, principals and assistant principals, to administer corporal punishment, Haywood County policy only allows teachers, principals or assistant principals to paddle students.
And corporal punishment is not generally used as a first step toward discipline, Garrett said. Teachers and administrators often use in-school or out-of-school suspension, isolation and other forms of discipline before resorting to paddling, she said.
There were 129 incidences of corporal punishment last year reported by Haywood County schools. Thirty-five were at Pisgah High, with 24 at Bethel Elementary, 22 at Waynesville Middle, 12 each at Tuscola High and Meadowbrook and Clyde elementaries. There were 6 incidences at Riverbend, 5 at Hazelwood, and 1 at Bethel Middle School.
Six schools in Haywood County had no incidence of corporal punishment, including Central Haywood High, Canton Middle, Jonathan Valley, Central, Junaluska and North Canton elementaries.
Sparty Valentine, instructional support coordinator for Haywood County Schools, said she does not receive statistics from individual schools as to the age, sex or cause of each incident involving corporal punishment.
Donna Lupton, social work program administrator for the Haywood County DSS and a member of the CCP team, suggested that information concerning incidences of corporal punishment be centrally compiled so educators and others can determine if that form of punishment is successful.
"The schools, by choosing not to use corporal punishment, could send a message to the community," Lupton said.
The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Mississippi, 24 January 2000
Department estimates 2,500 pupils beaten per day in US schools
By the Associated Press
JACKSON - A new study suggests more students are being paddled in Mississippi than anywhere else in the nation.
The U.S. Department of Education study shows 12.4 percent of Mississippi's public school children were paddled during the 1997 school year. That places the state at the top of a national ranking for use of corporal punishment.
Arkansas was ranked second for paddling an estimated 10.8 percent of students followed by Alabama with 6.3 percent.
The 1997 statistics are the most recent available, the study says.
"Paddling has maintained strength in these states," said Nadine Block, director of the Center for Effective Discipline, which operates the National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools in Columbus, Ohio. "We believe that discipline begins in the mind, not the behinds."
The National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools assisted in the Department of Education's biannual corporal punishment ranking that surveys 25 percent of school districts in each state and then computes statewide projections based on survey results.
Estimates show that nationally, 2,500 students receive corporal punishment a day and that black children, who make up 17 percent of the U.S. student population, received 39 percent of spankings.
State law allows corporal punishment in public school. However, the state Department of Education has no guidelines on paddling and leaves the decision up to the districts.
Judging from the fact that Brookhaven High doesn't paddle students, junior Brandon Van Hall said that the 12.4 percent estimate seems high.
But when he conjures up memories from his days at Brookhaven Elementary, it's understandable, he said.
"About every five minutes, you would hear a kid getting paddled," he said. "I'm not exaggerating. I mean, it was constant."
The use of in-school paddling has been an oft-debated discipline form nationally and in Mississippi for decades. Twenty-seven states have banned corporal punishment.
The Jackson school district, the state's largest with 32,000 pupils, banned corporal punishment in 1991. Peggy Crowell, executive director of student services, said offenses rose slightly in the months after spankings were first banned but then returned to normal.
Tim Martin, principal at Clinton's Lovett Elementary, said he paddled about 15 of the estimated 420 sixth-graders in his school last year. He came to Lovett after having worked at a Jackson district school.
"In the Deep South, and in the Bible Belt, that is still looked upon as a form of discipline that is used not only in the schools, but also in the homes," Martin said. "Many parents believe that's what's wrong with public schools that corporal punishment has been taken out.
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