The Use of Corporal Punishment in Schools Debate Heats Up
While the vision of being paddled in the principal’s office may seem an image of the past, corporal punishment is still legal, and used, in 20 American states. Advocates against corporal punishment have attempted to end the practice for years, but a recent push has encouraged several school districts to consider banning the method of punishment.
As a recourse to skipping detention at his Wichita Falls high school, 11th grader Tyler Anastopoulos was sent to the assistant principal’s office; where he received three blows to his backside with a paddle. The strikes left Anastopoulos with deep bruises. His mother, Angie Herring, expressed her outrage by saying, “If I did that to my son, I’d go to jail.”
In a vague response to Anastopoulos’s case, the superintendent of the City View Independent School District in Wichita Falls, Steve Harris, described corporal punishment as “one of the tools in the toolbox we use for discipline”.
A recent buzz about corporal punishment in schools has surfaced in Texas where nearly 27 out of 1,000 districts still participate in physical punishments. Anastopoulos recently attended a meeting to share his story with Texas legislators where a proposal to ban the punishment is being considered. New Mexico passed legislation banning corporal punishment in schools the same week.
The discussion has created a heated debate. Passionate arguments come from both sides. Vernon D. Asbill, a State Senator, believes corporal punishment is necessary because “The threat of it keeps many of our kids in line so they can learn.” In opposition, State Senator Cynthia Nava argues that “We should be educating kids that they can’t solve problems with violence.”
Numerous organizations geared towards ending corporal punishment have also joined the discussion. The Center for Effective Discipline tracks corporal punishment in schools and promotes alternative punishment methods. Founder Nadine Block affirms that physical punishment in schools has decreased by nearly 20 percent in the past few years.
Jimmy Dunne, founder and president of People Opposed to Paddling Students, believes corporal punishment in schools is dangerous because “Hitting children in our schools with boards is child abuse, and it promotes child abuse at home…parents see it’s legal in schools and this it’s OK to do at home.”