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Putting an End to Beatings in Public Schools

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August 23, 2008

The town of Jackson, Miss., has been considering reintroducing corporal punishment into its public schools. So it’s especially fitting that today’s Clarion Ledger carried an op-ed by the ACLU’s Alice Farmer and ACLU of Mississippi’s Nsombi Lambright about exactly why corporal punishment in schools is a bad idea. They write:

In Mississippi, African-American boys are punished at 1.7 times the rate that would be expected given their numbers in the student population.

African-American girls in Mississippi are 2.2 times as likely as white girls to be paddled, a number that exceeds rates in other states. There is no evidence that these students commit disciplinary infractions at disproportionate rates.

…Alternative discipline methods, such as detention, loss of privileges and reinforcement of good behavior can better address students’ needs and are being implemented in school districts from Chicago to Kentucky. School children in Mississippi deserve no less.

Alice is the author a new report about the use of corporal punishment in public schools. Called A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in U.S. Public Schools, the report focuses specifically on the use of physical punishment in schools in Mississippi and Texas. You can also discuss the use corporal punishment on The Washington Post’s Rights Watchers discussion group.

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