Stop Beating Children in Schools

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

With state legislatures back in session, we're renewing the fight to take corporal punishment out of public schools. There's a bill pending in Ohio to do just that. Here's our letter supporting this crucial step to protect Ohio's kids.

In recent months we've also seen bills introduced in other states limiting corporal punishment, making it harder for schools to beat children. Click here to find out if paddling is legal and prevalent in your state.

While we hope all states will follow suit, paddling can also be banned school district by school district. More and more districts are adopting discipline policies that throw out the paddle and support effective learning instead. For instance, in recent months, the school districts in Marfa and Aldine in Texas and Muskogee, Oklahoma, have debated banning or limiting corporal punishment, like many other small districts. Meanwhile, Jackson Public School (JPS) District, one of the biggest districts in Mississippi, recently upheld its ban on paddling. Click here to see our letters to JPS.

What can you do? We've put together a "toolkit" for parents that we published with the Our Children, the National PTA magazine. Parents and PTAs can take the lead in campaigns to change school policies. Even if you don't live in a school district that paddles kids, you can help. Parents can write letters to their state legislatures, objecting to laws that permit schools to paddle, and advocating for safe, nonviolent discipline in schools.

New funding from the federal stimulus package can also help. The Department of Education can allocate funding to school districts that want to implement positive behavior discipline systems that teach kids why what they did was wrong and what they can do better. Positive behavior systems are much more effective than paddling; they produce safe, secure classrooms where kids can effectively learn. The Southern Poverty Law Center has more on using federal money for positive behavior.

What’s more, the right to dignity — one of the founding principles of human rights — protects children from abusive or discriminatory school discipline practices. U.S. schools should implement effective, positive discipline systems, so that children’s human rights are protected and so that every student can maximize his or her potential.

To learn more about the ACLU’s work to end corporal punishment, visit: www.aclu.org/corporalpunishment

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Jjules

Give me a break! All these kids that are labled ADD all need a swift kick in the ass! That's the problem! Everyone makes excuses! When I was in school..you got swats when you broke the rules. We didn't have guns in our school and the biggest deal was maybe a kid with some weed in his locker. Now, these students do whatever they want with the only punishment being suspension.

Mike

I disagree with this. I got plenty of spankings growing up. I was never abused and most, if not all were well deserved. I don't think whippings are always the answer and should be used sparingly, but it is effective on some kids. I got licks at school and I was never injured, etc. That is the problem with the schools, the kids know you can't do anything to them and parents are afraid to parent. Just because someone chooses to spank their child does not make them an abuser.

Maggie

I believe schools have had the positive behavior system for quite some time. They have apparently not worked, look at the current state of the public school system. It is always someone else's fault. Parents need to be supervising their children more and stop blaming somebody else. You can supervise your child and still work. I did that and I am quite sure other parents have too. The school is not a babysitter or the person who should be bringing up your child. I would certainly give permission for my child to be paddled if they deserved it.

Steve

Leave it to your organization to support such stupidity! I remember many of times having to "grab my ankles" and I turned out just fine. I work with children and I can tell the disiplined ones and the ones who have ACLU attorneys for parents. The latter are beligerent, mouthy and out of control, not to mention well on their way of becoming hardened criminals. Your organization supports anything that will bring this country down. No wonder public schools suck!

Per Hansen

This is a debate we had 50-60 years ago in Scandinavia. I'm a well grown pupil in a Norwegian school, and would really see the dimwitted teacher with guts to correct my behaviour by trying to spank me. He/she would probably be hospitalized well over the summer vacation. So, spanking the pupils will only be an option towards the smaller kids, and what signal does that give? That it's all right to take on the weaker...
I refuse to believe pupils in Scandinavian schools are behaving any worse that those in USA. And a teacher here would lose the job, and hauled to court if physically abusing the kids.

Sean S.

Nothing quite like anecdotal "I walked 5 miles in the snow" type non-sense to counter actual empirical, behavioral studies of the negative effects of corporeal punishment. There is never a valid excuse to hit a child, and the argument that it "works" ignores that it clearly doesn't for a vast majority of the people its applied to. Which means, from a policy perspective, its something that should be actively discouraged, and where state employees are involved, forbidden.

Julie Worley

Our family relocated to Tennessee 3 years ago to raise our children in a less congested environment. Our 3 school-aged children attend schools in an UNRESPONSIVE Paddling School District, Houston County, TN. We read the student handbook when we enrolled our children and were shocked to learn that our county schools practiced Physical Punishment or Paddling of schoolchildren. Our children are intelligent, reasonable and well-behaved and we never in our wildest dreams thought paddling at school would be necessary for any of them. My husband is retired and I am a stay-at-home mom, we are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We were shaken from our COMPLACENCY regarding paddling of our children at school on February 15, 2008 when I received a call from our 13-year old son's Middle school assistant principal, ONLY at our son's insistence, as all of our children have been taught from an early age that "NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO TOUCH THEM, THEY CAN SAY "NO" AND GET AWAY AND TELL SOMEONE!" to protect them from sexual abuse. She informed me that she was about to administer a paddling to our son to "Punish him for going outside with his class when he was told to stay in." As you can see, hitting our child with a wooden paddle was intended to be used as a first resort, a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived minor infraction. I informed her that we do NOT HIT OUR CHILDREN and did not want school employees to hit them. She insisted that he must be "PUNISHED" and we agreed upon an acceptable, non-physical form of "discipline." We immediately wrote to Federal, State and Local government agencies and elected officials to demand Physical (Corporal) Punishment of schoolchildren be Prohibited, ONLY to receive replies that the authority for adopting policies regarding the administration and operation of schools rested with independent local autonomous school district governing board members. My husband and I made a written/verbal presentation on 4/14/2008 to our local school boards 7 elected governing board members to demand they take immediate action to Prohibit Physical (Corporal) Punishment of children in our county schools during "National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month" and to date 5/2/09, we have received NO RESPONSE! To our horror, just this year, 2009, we have learned from our daughter who is a middle school student in the 6th grade, that classmates are taken into the hallway just outside of class and told to "Bend over and grab your ankles" to be hit with wooden paddles for minor infractions like not turning in homework within earshot of all the other students, then they must immediately face their classmates when they return to their seat. No communication with parents takes place. Teachers keep wooden paddles in their desk drawers, some with holes drilled into them, and they name the paddles and take them out to threaten students with physical punishment to obtain obedience. We do not hit our children and strenuously object to them being subjected to a fear/dread filled environment where they do not feel safe from those entrusted with their care and education for learning who receive our tax-dollars. It is outrageous that 21 states in American have not Abolished Physical (Corporal) Punishment of children in schools and this harsh and severe from of punishment as discipline is still practiced. Our family is committed to raising awareness of this inequality (29 states have Abolished Corporal Punishment of Children in Schools, making it ILLEGAL) and advocating for positive change for ALL schoolchildren. Animals are protected from physical punishment in America by federal laws, are not our children deserving of the same protection? Education's "Best Practices" in 21st Century Classrooms should not include Hitting Children with wooden paddles. Shocking news headlines of schoolchildren being abused in the states that have not abolished Corporal Punishment are all too common. For instance, the PUBLICLY FUNDED Charter School, Memphis Academy for Health Sciences gained national attention recently for the way it disciplines its students. Parents of 2 students, one with Special Needs, came forward on to news reporters with their sons abusive experiences at MAHS in their own words on video and written article. Middle/High School Students at MAHS are Punished Weekly, on Fridays, by being hit with wooden paddles and/or having their hands whipped with leather straps IN FRONT OF ALL THE OTHER STUDENTS AS A DETERRENT! The students also have a blog where they discuss school uniforms and the fact that the Principal does not allow relations between students. MAHS is so dedicated to "Success", test scores and FUNDING, that they are trying to CONTROL STUDENTS! I have personally reported the harmful discipline methods taking place at MAHS to the Tennessee State Department of Childrens Services, including the news video/article of the parents in their own words, and nothing has been done to stop the harm being done to the minor students. The Cost to eliminate school teachers and administrators right to assault/batter schoolchildren is $0.

Bill Matheny

Thats because you have girlie men running the school. They have no weight in the shorts. I love my children enough to do what it takes to keep them in line.

Susan M

If we have the right to assemble, why aren't we fighting to get our children back into schools when there is only probable swine flu. This seems to be a breach of our children's rights to assemble and go to school, if they close schools without just cause. Where is the outrage and anger?

Steven

@Per Hansen: Too bad there aren't a lot of people who listen to reason. And yes, it definitely teaches kids that yes, it is okay to harm those who are weaker and smaller than them.

It took me a long time to realize this fact, but now I know. Discipline should never be ignored when it's needed, but it obviously shouldn't end up causing negative side effects. Not to mention there are many kids are misbehaving not because they're bratty, but because they've been poisoned, whether by vaccines or aspartame, or many other things like this.

People really need to wake up and realize the truth.........

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