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The Wichita Eagle, Kansas, 8 August 2000
Kansas urged to end all corporal punishment in schools
The state is one of 23 that has not legally abolished the act. Most districts ban it already, but data shows kids are still getting hit
By Julie Mah
Hitting a child in school may be unheard of nowadays, but it still happens.
Often enough for the American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday to urge 23 states, including Kansas, to ban corporal punishment.
Corporal punishment is banned in the other 27 states and the District of Columbia.
In Kansas, the issue of corporal punishment, which includes spanking, is left up to local school districts, said Rod Bieker, general counsel for the Kansas Department of Education.
About 10 years ago, state lawmakers took up the issue, he added, proposing a ban in all Kansas schools. The bill died in the Senate.
The debate became one that divided rural and urban districts. Smaller districts feared losing local control, while the larger ones worried about liability and lawsuits. The Wichita school district has banned corporal punishment since the 1980s.
According to data school districts provide to the U.S. Department of Education, 20 Kansas students were hit during the 1997-98 school year -- the latest numbers available.
The worst offenders were Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Missouri and New Mexico.
The academy calls for corporal punishment to be legally abolished and "that alternative forms of student behavior management be used."
Spanking does have its place in society, some say. For years, children have been swatted on their bottoms. And they have not turned out to have violent tendencies as adults.
Now, though, no-hitting supporters would call any kind of spanking a form of child abuse. The pediatricians' group has previously urged parents not to strike their children.
HealthSCOUT, 10 August 2000
Health Group's Nod: Spare the Rod
Ban corporal punishment in schools, says doctors' group
By Jeff Kelliher
THURSDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthSCOUT) -- Spanking -- or any other kind of physical punishment -- in classrooms should be outlawed in all 50 states, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Physical punishment of students is legal in 13 states, including Texas and Tennessee, home states of presidential rivals George W. Bush and Al Gore. Education reform is shaping up as major campaign issue in this fall's national election.
In 10 other U.S. states the decision whether or not to use corporal punishment in schools is up to the local school districts. A written statement outlining the AAP's position appears in this month's issue of the journal Pediatrics.
"There are many ways to discipline and teach children," says Dr. Howard Taras, chairman of the AAP's committee on school health. "Corporal punishment is not the most effective way, and in may cases can have ill effects."
Those effects, claim Taras, include harm to a child's self-esteem, physical injury, a drop in academic performance and the chance that children will be more prone to violence themselves.
Corporal punishment has deep social, cultural and emotional roots here and around the world. Some believe the Bible sanctions physical punishment for wrongdoing. Others lash out at kids as a result of frustration or because that's what their parents did.
"Some say [corporal punishment] does more for the person giving it -- in terms of relieving tension -- than it does for the person receiving it," says Taras. He argues that in the school setting, especially, there are far more humane ways to correct and guide children.
"There are ways to reward kids for not misbehaving, which depends on what different kids like as they move along through the grades," says Taras. "And effective disincentives other than spanking include things like extra work assignments and parent/teacher conferences."
While Taras does not condone corporal punishment of kids by their parents, he says the effects of being hit or hurt by teachers can be even worse. "Allowing a stranger to have that sort of effect on one's own body is not something we can endorse."
Academic jury in?
John Lyons, a mental health professor at Northwestern University who has studied the impact of laws in Sweden banning corporal punishment of children, says few if any social scientists believe the practice benefits kids -- whether it's administered at home or at school.
"If there's a debate about corporal punishment today, it's about whether or not parents should use it as a backup for time outs with kids who are preverbal -- kids that you can't reason with," says Lyons.
"But I don't think corporal punishment has any place in school settings," says Lyons. "And while I'm not generally a big fan of laws that don't get enforced, I think rules and regulations against this kind of behavior will have a positive effect."
Lyons adds that existing arguments about the value of corporal punishment usually have a moral tone. "The issue centers around questions of morality where one party is trying to influence the morality of another party. That's really what all hot issues are about," he says.
What To do
Corporal punishment in schools has declined steadily in the past 25 years. The percentage of school kids struck by adults in public schools in 1976 was 3.5 percent (or just over 1.5 million). In 1998 that number dropped to under 0.8 percent (about 365,000).
Black children, who make up 17 percent of the U.S. public school population, received 39 percent of all public school paddlings, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
The state that now has the highest percentage of students struck by school staff is Mississippi, which tops the list of mostly Southern and Midwestern states at 10.1 percent.
Copyright © 2000 Rx Remedy, Inc.
"I don't think corporal punishment has any place in school settings."
-- John S. Lyons, Northwestern University Medical School
SOURCES: Interviews with Howard L. Taras, M.D., professor of pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, and chairman, committee on school health American Academy of Pediatricians; and John S. Lyons, Ph.D., director, mental health sciences and policy program, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago; August 2000, Pediatrics
Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia, 18 August 2000
Wave coach suspended 2 games
By John Pope
Petersburg High football coach Bob Smith will miss the first two games of the season as the result of action by the Petersburg School Board.
Smith, in his third year as the Crimson Wave coach, was suspended Aug. 7 for paddling players during practice. He temporarily was reinstated last weekend by Superintendent Wallace M. Saval pending a review by the school board at its meeting Wednesday night.
Smith won't be allowed to walk the sidelines during the Wave's Aug. 25 opener against C.D. Hylton, the defending state Group AAA, Division 6 champion, and Sept. 1 against Dominion District power L.C. Bird. Both games are on the road.
He will be allowed to coach during practices, school board member Marie V. Maniego said. She said she hopes Smith stays away from the playing field during the two games.
"We hope he's not going to be there." Maniego said.
About 100 people, including Smith, attended the school board meeting, which lasted from 6:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday. She said about a dozen people spoke in favor of Smith. Only one, Robert L. Hines, spoke against Smith. Hines' son, Rashaan, is a former Wave player under Smith.
Smith was suspended after a city employee told school administrators that Smith paddled players during practice, Maniego said. Several players told the board members that Smith didn't paddle team members.
Maniego, a retired English and drama teacher, taught Smith in the 1960s while he was a student at Petersburg High. Smith is a 1966 graduate.
"He's a decent man, and I think a lot of him. But sometimes we participate in our own downfall," she said.
The suspension came with a caveat, Maniego said.
"If it happens again, the actions will be more stringent."
Staff writer Arthur Utley contributed to this article.
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