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RULER   :  Archive   :  1997   :  US Schools Jul 1997


School CP - July 1997

Corpun file 1249 at


The State, Columbia, South Carolina, 19 July 1997


The Rod Can Spoil the Child

Once spanking was a popular way to discipline children in school. A paddling was the response to many kinds of misbehavior.

However, research over the last 20 years has shown its popularity is not deserved. Spanking increases the likelihood of further misbehavior. Spanking isn't a guarantee a child will become physically aggressive, but physical aggression almost always arises in a person hit often. In fact, children spanked severely or frequently suffer symptoms replicating post-traumatic stress: anxiety, aggression, sleep disturbance and depression.

That's the word from the National Center for the Study of Corporal Punishment and Alternatives, founded in 1976. Despite such information, studies also find three-quarters of American parents still hit their children.

While corporal punishment remains popular in the South and Southwest, 27 states have banned it in schools. In South Carolina, state law leaves it up to the local school district to decide. Thirty-seven states don't allow foster parents to hit the children in their care. South Carolina's standards for foster parents simply prohibit slapping and shaking. In training, foster parents who take in abused children are taught how to discipline without spanking.

The S.C. Department of Social Services deals with the issue of excessive physical punishment without cease, investigating abusive parents and the occasional abusive foster parent. (Recently, a foster mother was found guilty of abuse after she tied a child for hours to a bed so tightly he has required physical therapy.) New legislation requires a study of foster care, and DSS administrators are open to their agency and the Foster Parent Association looking at changes in standards and regulations regarding discipline.

We are a country struggling every day with the effects of violence. It would seem self-defeating that with so much information on the consequences of hitting, many insist on relying on old, bad habits.

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