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School CP - April 1984

Corpun file 7265

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Washington State, 26 April 1984

Seattle schools ban spanking

By Mary Rothschild
P-I Reporter

Spanking may soon be outlawed in Seattle public schools.

Press cutting"Corporal punishment only teaches students that violence is a way of solving social problems," said school board member Michael Preston during the regular board meeting yesterday.

Preston announced he will formally move to abolish the traditional swat at the next regular board meeting.

Spankings are now an optional and somewhat limited method of discipline in Seattle schools. District policy allows students to choose the swat over other kinds of punishment only if their parents or legal guardians give permission.

Testifying in support of the proposed motion, Sue Hogan, co-chairman of the Alternative Coalition, said resorting to the paddle "avoids counseling and skills-training to help staff and parents cope without resorting to physical abuse."

Physical abuse

Hogan said the more than 500 swats given during the 1983-83 school year warmed the bottoms of slightly less than 400 students.

"Such recidivism typically indicates that a particular strategy is not working," she said.

Preston said the use of corporal punishment teaches children, especially males, that physical abuse is acceptable behavior. He said it's wrong for schools to contribute to attitudes that could lead to violent crimes, sexual abuse or child abuse.

District statistics indicate that more than 85 per cent of those spanked in recent years were male and a disproportionate number of them were ethnic minorities.

Although there has been a consistent decline in the number of swats given in elementary schools over the past four years, according to district figures, middle school corporal punishment cases were double the 1982-83 number during the first semester of the current school year.

Cheryl Chow, middle school administrative supervisor, said only four of the district's 10 middle schools still use the swat and that all schools are looking at alternative ways to punish misbehavior.

Swats decline

Frank Cranston, elementary administrative supervisor, said most elementary schools have eliminated corporal punishment.

Although minority students, especially black students, are disciplined in number disproportionate to their enrollment in the district, the frequency of swats appears to be declining.

Corporal punishment of black students during the first semester has dropped from 58.3 percent in 1981-82 to 38.1 percent this year.

Board member Barbara Beuschlein noted that the consensus of a recent citizens' seminar on school discipline, concluded Tuesday, was that corporal punishment should be eliminated. She suggested the board delay discussion of Preston's proposal until the group's official recommendation is made.

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