March 17, 2005

Corporal Punishment in schools

To Paddle or not To Paddle

"When it comes to spanking, there's no such thing as a consensus in America's schools.

Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have outlawed corporal punishment in public schools, all in the past 40 years.

But as the number of students feeling the sting of the paddle declines, some parents and educators are digging in to defend it as an effective form of discipline.

It's another symbol of the nation's red-blue divide. Most states that still allow the practice are in the South and Midwest. But policies long favoring corporal punishment have come up for debate recently on Southern school boards - in Union County, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Dallas.

"It's very uneven terrain out there," says Ronald Rohner, who is not pro or con but has researched the issue as director of the University of Connecticut's Center for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection. "There's a movement back to it on the part of some schools, but some are banning it for the first time.... We'll be hearing more and more about this as time goes by."

I am not in favor of corporal punishment in schools. I was threatened with it twice during my school career both times by gym teachers. And both times I promised to return the favor if it was tried.

It wasn't really much of a question as it was illegal in California. But for me it comes down to this. When it comes to discipline, I believe that there is a definite line that schools should not be allowed to cross.

This has nothing to do with my opinion on whether a child should be spanked at home and everything to do with boundaries and what I think at the school level is an ineffective method of discipline.

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