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RULER   :  Archive   :  2005   :  US Schools Feb 2005


School CP - February 2005

Corpun file 15561

Lariat Online, Baylor University, Texas, 2 February 2005

Paddling not for adults, even students

By Editorial Staff

A high school student in San Antonio filed a lawsuit in January against officials at the School of Excellence in Education for using corporal punishment even though she was of legal age.

The school regularly enforces corporal punishment -- in this case, paddling -- for certain infractions committed by students. Jessica Serafin, an 18-year-old student, left campus for a meal and was told when she returned she would receive a paddling.

Parents of students at the School of Excellence in Education, San Antonio's largest charter school, are required to sign waivers allowing school officials to act "in loco parentis" and discipline the children using corporal punishment.

However, the student's argument in this case is that she is no longer a child, and thus her parents' consent should no longer be valid.

Putting aside our views on corporal punishment, the editorial board believes this case should be based simply on the fact that Serafin is, in fact, an adult and should be able to decide for herself whether she should be paddled.

When students in high school reach the age of 18, they no longer need parental consent to go on field trips, leave sick from school or other instances where permission slips are typically needed. We believe the implementation of corporal punishment should be no different.

Further, Serafin alleges she was beat so badly that she went to the emergency room for treatment. Her hand were put in a cast -- an injury she said resulted when she attempted to block the paddle.

The editorial board believes this amounts to assault. One adult hitting another without that person's consent is an offense that shouldn't be covered under a school's stance on corporal punishment.

We believe the school was in the wrong and officials should allow students of age to sign or decline the very same waiver their parents sign when they are underage.

Copyright © Baylor University. All rights reserved.

blob Follow-up: 17 June 2008 - The Supreme Court and Corporal Punishment

Corpun file 15053

Collegiate Times (Virginia Tech), Blacksburg, VA, 2 February 2005


LeMoyne student did not mean any harm by writing paper in favor of corporal punishment

LeMoyne College, located in Syracuse, N.Y., recently expelled a student because of a controversial paper he wrote for one of his classes.

Scott McConnell, a student enrolled in LeMoyne's Masters of Education program wrote a paper for his classroom management class advocating corporal punishment. Although he earned an A- for the paper, he was later expelled for its content.

As a boy, McConnell attended school in Oklahoma where corporal punishment was enforced, and he found it to be effective. He says that he was paddled in fourth grade for being unruly, and “It worked. I never talked out of turn again.”

By writing the paper, his intentions were not to change the procedures at LeMoyne College, or enforce corporal punishment onto others. Instead, he was giving his thoughts on a topic that he felt was effective from firsthand experience. The situation raises questions as to whether or not students have the right to voice their beliefs in academic papers.

The purpose of any college is to educate and encourage free thought, not mold students into thinking a certain way. If the school feels strongly about the issue, they should explain why they feel it's wrong and unacceptable in a school setting. Because corporal punishment is illegal, if deemed necessary a failing grade for the paper may be understandable, but the expulsion of this student only prevents him from receiving further education.

LeMoyne advertises the diversity of its college on its website, where it boasts that its student body represents 22 states and five foreign countries. However, a student body with a diverse background will have a diverse range of beliefs due to individual experiences. If the college feels diversity is important, it should be willing to be more accepting of views that are not necessarily their own.

The actions taken at this school could set a precedent for future instances where when a student's beliefs do not match a school's beliefs, the student is punished.

It should be taken into consideration that if McConnell received an A- for the paper, his beliefs must have been argued well.

The recent events at LeMoyne College question not only the school's procedures and practices, but also the guarantee of a student's freedom of speech. Scott McConnell wrote his opinions on a topic, and was punished for doing so.

blob Follow-up: 13 February 2005 - Corporal punishment views led to expulsion

Corpun file 15067

Montgomery Advertiser, Alabama, 2 February 2005

Paddle's days may be ending

By Antoinette Konz
Montgomery Advertiser


According to Montgomery County Board of Education's corporal punishment policy, corporal punishment may be administered unless the parent or guardian files a written, dated objection with the school principal and that "corporal punishment may be administered after the nature of the offense has been explained to the student. It must be done with the approval of the principal and administered by the principal or his/her designee, privately, in the presence of another certified school employee, but not in the presence of other students. No more than three licks will be administered to the buttocks using the approved paddle."

The majority of Montgomery County Board of Education members said Tuesday they would be in favor of revisiting and possibly eliminating the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline in its public schools.

"I am generally against the use of corporal punishment in our schools because I don't believe it works on all students," said Henry Spears, a board member who represents District 6. "I would prefer to look at having another form of discipline that would be severe enough not to include corporal punishment."

Corporal punishment is a board-approved form of discipline, but the principal of each school has the authority to decide whether or not to use it.

According to accountability numbers released last month, more than 1,700 Montgomery Public Schools children were given corporal punishment as a form a discipline during the 2003-04 school year, an increase of 9 percent over the previous school year.

After the report was released, the system's new superintendent, Carlinda Purcell, said she was not a proponent of corporal punishment and she would like to take a good look at the district-wide policy.

"I am not too sure that we gain much from it (corporal punishment)," Purcell said. "I used it once in my professional career, it was my third year of teaching, and I never used it again because it was not very effective."

All seven Montgomery County Board of Education members were polled by the Montgomery Advertiser about the issue on Tuesday. Four said they are not proponents of corporal punishment. The remaining three said they felt it was an effective form of discipline.

"I am not in favor of getting rid of corporal punishment," said Mary Louise Briers, a board member who represents District 4. "But I do believe it should be the last recourse for students who misbehave. I wouldn't mind revisiting the board's policy, but only as a way to fine-tune it."

Board members Tommie Miller and Dave Borden agree with Briers.

"I would not be interested in revisiting the policy because we have corporal punishment now and I don't think that should be changed," Miller said.

Borden said he would like to revisit the policy, but not to abolish the form of discipline in Montgomery schools.

"I just don't believe that all of our schools are consistently following the policy and I would like us to use the same forms of discipline at each of our schools," he said. "I am not in favor of getting rid of it because I think there are some circumstances where it is called for."

But board members Mark La Branche, Vickie Jernigan, Beverly Ross and Spears disagree.

"I have not seen any data or research that indicates that corporal punishment is an effective form of discipline," Jernigan said. "I think it would be a good idea to do away with it in order to take the liability off of the schools."

La Branche said he believes the board needs to find other ways to help its teachers respond to disciplinary problems within the classroom.

"Part of my concern is that some of our children come from abusive homes where hitting is the norm," La Branche said. "I would like to see us ban corporal punishment. Personally, I think there are more creative ways on how you can discipline a child."

Ross said her opposition to corporal punishment stems not only from her own beliefs, but also from what she has been hearing from people in the community.

"Adults are not supposed to hit other adults, and in fact, can be arrested for doing so," Ross said. "Why should it be OK for us to hit our children?"

Kira Evans, a Montgomery parent who moved to Alabama two years ago, said she was shocked to find out that corporal punishment was still allowed in schools here.

"We moved here from Wisconsin and corporal punishment was banned back when I was in school, back in the mid-1980s," she said. "I don't think it's a teacher's or principal's responsibility to hit a child. They should be there to teach."

According to the National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools, 28 states have outlawed corporal punishment and in the 22 states that allow its use, many large city school districts have banned it.

"More and more school districts that had not been thinking about banning it before are thinking about it now," said Nadine Block, a retired school psychologist and executive director of the Center for Effective Discipline. "Many districts are concerned about lawsuits; others see that the recent trend has been to eliminate corporal punishment and they don't want to be left behind."

Copyright © 1997- 2005 The Advertiser Co.

Corpun file 15097

Clarke County Democrat, Grove Hill, Alabama, 3 February 2005

BOE rep says she opposes paddling

By Jim Cox


A proposed revised tardiness policy drew sharp comments from a Clarke County school board member last Wednesday, prompting Superintendent Gerald Stephens to promise a review of the matter.

Mae Ella Todd of Jackson questioned a portion of the tardiness policy that would allow corporal punishment (paddling) in some cases.

She said she opposed corporal punishment. "It has gotten us into some trouble," previously, she acknowledged.

A portion of the policy that would allow for students to be suspended also drew criticism.

"Just for being tardy from school?" the retired teacher asked. She asked what if a student missed the first class of the day but was there for others.

Stephens and School Board President Clint Odom said that a standardized tardiness policy was followed by a committee that offered the proposal.

Regarding corporal punishment, it was noted that the principal and assistant principal are usually the only school personnel authorized to paddle.

"It needs to be spelled out," insisted Todd.

Stephens observed, "A lot of parents will ask that corporal punishment be used if their child needs it."

The proposed tardiness policy will be further reviewed.


Janice Jones also complained that a substitute bus driver had slapped her daughter, a Wilson Hall Middle School student, and that nothing has been done about it. "I want justice but nothing has been done ... there are a lot of problems," she stated.


Corpun file 15061

The Monitor, McAllen, Texas, 3 February 2005

Student spanking sparks dispute

By James Osborne
Monitor Staff Writer

PHARR -- A kindergarten teacher at Dr. William Long Elementary School has been suspended following allegations that she has spanked students.

Carlos Quintana, a lawyer representing three families who say their children have been spanked, said the practice began a few months into the school year after the teacher, Trinidad Ramirez, began making religiously influenced comments in class.

"These children are being spanked by this teacher because she believes this is what is right according to the Bible," Quintana said.

"It's a form of discipline. If they don't do what she says, if they misbehave, (she says) they're going to hell."

The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district has undertaken an internal investigation into the allegations and is interviewing Ramirez, her students and other school employees.

Superintendent Arturo Guajardo said the investigation should be complete in seven to 10 days. Then officials will decide whether Ramirez will return to the classroom.

"We're not saying whether she's guilty or not," Guajardo said.

"Once all the investigation is done we'll make a decision."

The PSJA student code of conduct allows corporal punishment in the schools. According to Guajardo, a principal or person approved by the principal can paddle a child, as long as a witness is present and only as a "last resort." Parents agree to the code at the beginning of each school year.

"I don't know how well the parents read the policy. It's there, but we don't use it," he said.

"There was a junior high school principal who was the last one to use it. But he retired a couple years ago."

Ramirez's conduct, if determined to be true and not approved by the principal, would be a violation of district policy.

The Monitor attempted to interview parents picking up their children from Long Elementary, but the reporter was told to leave school grounds at the request of Dodi Cox, assistant superintendent for human resources.

Prior to that encounter, Randy Rodriguez, who has a 7-year-old son in the first grade, expressed mixed feelings regarding corporal punishment.

"I didn't have any problem with it when I was growing up. It didn't scar me," he said.

"But I don't know. Maybe, it depends on the offense."

Araceli Gonzalez, who was pushing her 5-year-old son Aaron home in a heavily blanketed stroller Wednesday afternoon, took a decidedly different stance.

"I don't like it. It's for the parents, not the school," she said.

James Osborne covers law enforcement and general assignments for The Monitor.

© 2005 The Monitor and Freedom Interactive Newspapers of Texas, Inc. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 15059


Charlotte Observer, N. Carolina, 3 February 2005

Union schools suspend paddling

Corporal punishment halted after protests; permanent ban possible

By Emily S. Achenbaum
Staff Writer

After almost a year of parental controversy, Union County's schools have suspended corporal punishment and superintendent Jerry Thomas has asked the school board to make the change permanent.

Corporal punishment opponents nationally have been watching Union's review of its policy for months. While any permanent ban is still in the board's hands, Thomas' opinion is a strong push toward abolishment.

An outcry from parents sparked the review. Many Union parents were shocked to learn corporal punishment was still practiced, and that the policy did not require parental notification before a child was paddled. In 2002-03, corporal punishment was used 463 times in Union schools, a system of about 28,000 children.

Almost all those children were elementary students, and the punishment is frequently performed at parents' request, school officials said. It was typically a few swipes of a paddle, school staff said.

Peggy Dean, a Weddington mother of three who has spearheaded the effort to abolish the policy, said she was "thrilled they're proposing a ban." But she said she suspects the administration is acting out of fear of litigation, "not because they are progressive. They believe it is their right to hit children."

About half the states have banned corporal punishment.

Gaston and Catawba counties and Iredell-Statesville schools are among those that allow it. Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools banned it a decade ago; Cabarrus County also has a ban.

Public acceptance has waned in recent years due to changing social standards and increased litigation, according to the National Association of School Psychologists. The association estimates more than 250,000 children are struck each year in public schools, with a disproportionate number being minorities and disabled children.

The association says corporal punishment can easily be abused, and that evidence indicates it can harm a student's social, psychological and educational development.

N.C. law says only a principal, assistant principal or teacher may administer it, and must do so in front of another principal, assistant principal or teacher.

In Gaston County, Lori Hanafin of Belmont was surprised to hear her district still has corporal punishment.

Hanafin, a mother of four school-age children, said she would not give permission for her children to be disciplined that way. "I would hope there could be other things that could be done that could be more positive forms of discipline," she said.

In Union, Dean got several parents involved, some of whom regularly polled school board candidates during forums before last November's election. Nationally, corporal punishment opponents wrote school board members and posted updates about Union on Web sites.

Some, including school board Chairman Phil Martin, are in favor of the practice.

"I support it as long as parents agree to it," Martin said.

And although the policy states corporal punishment must be a last resort, school board member Dean Arp has said parents should be allowed to choose it as a first or second course of action.

"Parents ask for it instead of suspension," said Union schools' assistant superintendent Ed Davis. "Many accept it as an appropriate form of punishment for their children."

The board's policy committee will now incorporate Thomas' opinion into a policy recommendation it will present to the board.

Thomas' decision was based on months of discussions and input from principals, teachers and parents, he wrote.

Last April, the board tweaked the policy for this year's school manuals, adding a line stating that parental consent will be "highly recommended." -- STAFF WRITER JULIE BIRD CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.

Corpun file 15095


Charlotte Observer, N. Carolina, 4 February 2005

Union school board split on spanking

4 of 9 on Union County panel say they'll reject a school-district ban

By Emily S. Achenbaum
Staff Writer

When it comes time to vote, the Union County Board of Education may not embrace its superintendent's recommendation to end corporal punishment.

Four board members, including the chair, vice chair and head of the policy committee, say they plan to uphold the district's corporal punishment policy, though they all want to see the policy better defined.

After almost a year of parental controversy, Union's schools this week suspended corporal punishment, and Superintendent Jerry Thomas asked the school board to make the change permanent.

In 2002-03, corporal punishment was used 463 times in Union schools, a system of about 28,000 children. Almost all those children were elementary students. Because corporal punishment is a policy issue, the nine-member board will need a two-thirds ruling -- or six votes -- to abolish the policy. A date for a vote has not been set.

"I am for corporal punishment," said board vice chair Dean Arp. "I believe it has a place. I propose we explicitly define it, and state what infractions it could be used for."

Chairman Phil Martin said he supports it "as long as parents agree to it."

Board member John Crowder said: "I'm not going to support the superintendent's recommendation. The Bible says 'Spare the rod, spoil the child.' "

And Monica Frank, who heads the board's policy committee, said, "I plan to keep it on the books. I hope it's never used, but I think we need something there just in case."

The policy committee will now incorporate Thomas' opinion into its own recommendation to present to the board. The committee next meets Feb. 11.

Some board members who say they'll vote to abolish corporal punishment say it's a complicated decision.

"I have mixed feelings about it, but I would support the superintendent's recommendation," said Carolyn Lowder.

Board member Linda Isner, a former teacher, said she's never seen the policy abused, but said she plans to vote to abolish it.

"All the research suggests it is not good," said Isner. "But (abolishing) it would be a good thing for schools and for parents."

"I believe there is a place in education for corporal punishment," said board member John Collins. But: "I will probably vote with Dr. Thomas' (recommendation)," he said.

Board member Tripp Helms said he, too, will likely vote the way Thomas recommended.

"He made a good, well-researched recommendation," Helms said.

Board member Kim Rogers said she will vote to abolish the policy.

© 2005 Charlotte Observer and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

blob Follow-up: 13 February 2005 - One school paddles half of all disciplined students

Corpun file 15133

The Herald Tribune, Sarasota, Florida, 5 February 2005

Florida Supreme Court may hear child paddling case

Staff Report

The state Supreme Court will be asked to decide whether spanking that leaves bruises is felony child abuse.

The answer could resolve a legal question raised in the child abuse trial of Paul King, who runs a small parochial school in Charlotte Harbor.

In 2001, King, administrator of Charlotte Regional Christian Academy, paddled an 8-year-old girl so hard that her buttocks were bruised.

A jury in Charlotte County found King guilty of child abuse, but the conviction was overturned in December by the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

The appellate court said the child's injuries were not severe enough to meet the legal definition of third-degree felony child abuse. The Florida Attorney General's Office asked the court to rehear the case, but the motion was denied.

Florida law allows spanking, including paddling, unless it is intentionally injurious.

But the appellate court acknowledges that its ruling in the case "seemingly contradicts" some language in the felony child abuse law, which forbids intentional infliction of physical or mental injury to a child.

The appellate court decided Friday that settling the question raised by the case is of "great public importance," which is a procedural step toward sending the matter to the Florida Supreme Court.

King, pastor at Harborview Church for more than a decade, was sentenced to a year of house arrest and four years of probation in the paddling case.

King's sentence also included psychological and anger counseling. At trial, he testified that the 8-year-old girl was a disciplinary problem and deserved to be paddled.

Parents of students at the Christian school sign consent forms that give King the authority to spank or paddle their children.

Corpun file 15221


Charlotte Observer, N. Carolina, 6 February 2005

Schools continue to back paddling

Officials, parents say corporal punishment can be good deterrent

By April Bethea
Staff Writer

School leaders and parents in Gaston, Lincoln and Cleveland counties say they continue to support corporal punishment as a last option for discipline, despite another area district's move to ban it.

Last week, Union County temporarily suspended its use of corporal punishment, and the district's superintendent has asked to make the ban permanent. District figures show Union students were paddled 463 times in the 2002-03 school year.

In 2003-04, corporal punishment was used 42 times in Gaston schools, said district spokeswoman Bonnie Reidy. Figures were not immediately available for the first semester of the current school year, nor were they broken down by school.

In some cases, parents have requested paddling in lieu of suspension, said Leon Moretz, assistant superintendent for student support services.

In Cleveland County, only five schools have used corporal punishment so far this year, but those schools paddled students 40 times, according to the district. Figures for 2003-04 were not available because that year the county had three separate school districts.

No students were paddled or spanked by hand in Lincoln schools this year or last, said spokesman Lyle Back. The district's policy allows both.

Lincoln Superintendent Jim Watson said schools are strongly encouraged to use other forms of discipline rather than corporal punishment, and to figure out why a student is misbehaving instead of just punishing the behavior.

State law permits corporal punishment by teachers or administrators if students are told what behavior could result in paddling. It can't be done in front of other students and parents must be notified, although that can come after the fact. Some schools take the additional step of getting parental permission first.

Jerry Hoyle, principal of East Elementary School in Kings Mountain, said he recently paddled a student who had consistently refused to do his work despite many disciplinary efforts, including in-school suspension.

The child's behavior has since improved, Hoyle said.

"It's really nice to have that option even though you don't use it very much and shouldn't use it a great deal," he said. "It's not a power trip or anything. It's trying to make sure that a child knows what's right and what's wrong."

Mount Holly parent Cheri Gallagher said she supports corporal punishment in extreme cases of misbehavior, including on her own children. Paddling also could help deter disruptive behavior, she said.

"Sometimes just the threat of the consequence is effective," said Gallagher, president of the Parent-Teacher Association at Catawba Heights Elementary. "Maybe if one child hears about it happening -- even at another school -- just the threat that it may happen can be effective."

Mike Jennings, whose son is a senior at Forestview High in Gastonia, said he was unaware that corporal punishment was used in Gaston schools. Jennings said he thinks parents should be responsible for making sure their child knows how to behave.

Former Gaston school board member James Davison said he believes the district should get rid of corporal punishment altogether. Davison, a former teacher, said he found paddling to be ineffective when he tried it.

"There's no community value when you take students and beat on them," Davison said. He said he remembers parents speaking out on paddling while he was on the board, but he was unsuccessful in getting leaders to change the policy.

Lincoln school board member Jean Dellinger said she does not recall any efforts to end the practice in the district.

Dellinger, who was on the board when its corporal policy was approved, said the board wanted to give school leaders another option to discipline students, though the method is strongly discouraged.

"There are other ways to correct children that, to me, help a child more than corporal punishment," Dellinger said.

Corpun file 15155


Charlotte Observer, N. Carolina, 9 February 2005

Area schools rarely haul out the paddle

5 of 6 local school systems allow corporal punishment, but most avoid it

By Greg Lacour
Staff Writer

Five of the six school systems in the Catawba Valley allow corporal punishment as a method of disciplining students.

But it's seldom used, school officials say, and parents, school board members and school administrators share a common trait on the subject: They haven't had much reason to even discuss it in recent years.

"As far as actual practice by professional educators, most choose not to use it," said Paul Holden, the Catawba County Schools' director of student services. "It's very clear in board policy that that's the absolute last resort, to use when every other disciplinary avenue has been exhausted."

Some school officials said they've been watching with interest as Union County schools try to swim through a controversy about corporal punishment, or paddling.

In Union, a handful of parents were shocked to learn that the school system had such a policy on the books, and that the policy, based on state law, does not require school officials to notify parents beforehand.

They were even more stunned to learn how many times the punishment was administered -- 463 times in the 2002-03 school year, in a district with 28,000 students.

By comparison, Catawba County, with 17,000 students, used corporal punishment -- in practice, paddling a student on clothed buttocks -- three times in the 2003-04 school year, all in elementary schools, Holden said.

In Catawba County, parents have a chance to sign a form allowing corporal punishment at the beginning of a school year. If the parent gives permission, the schools can paddle the student if need be. But the parent can choose not to sign, which means the school system doesn't paddle that student, Holden said.

Officials in all five school systems that use corporal punishment said they seldom hear any complaints about the practice. In most school systems, the policies have been on the books for years; information on how often schools use it wasn't available from other Catawba Valley school systems.

"I think it just depends on the culture of your community," Holden said. "In communities smaller than Charlotte-Meck or Union...I think corporal punishment is something many parents in our community still use in their own homes."

Hickory Public Schools is the only district without a corporal punishment policy; board members ditched it in 1994, said spokeswoman Jean Yoder.

Newton-Conover schools paddle students "very infrequently," and then only when it's been specifically requested by a parent or guardian, said schools spokeswoman Kirsten Bowden. Caldwell County administrators discussed the possibility of doing away with their policy in the 1980s, but ultimately decided to keep the option open and haven't discussed it since, said spokeswoman Libby Brown.

Still, the fact that it's used so seldom reflects most educators' belief that better ways exist to discipline a child, said Holden and David Burleson, superintendent of Burke County's public schools.

Burke's policy, like Alexander and Caldwell County's, follows N.C. law on corporal punishment, which allows school officials to paddle students, under supervision, without prior parental notification; Catawba and Newton-Conover schools require parents to be notified ahead of time.

Yet many principals decline to use it anyway, Burleson said, and those who do generally try to discuss the matter with parents before paddling.

"We almost always defer when parents say they don't want corporal punishment to be administered to their child," he said. "We want to work with parents."

Corpun file 15185

The Suffolk Times, Mattituck, Long Island, NY, 10 February 2005

Sports Desk

Mr. Wright had the right stuff

By Bop Liepa


While thumbing through Newsday last Thursday, an unexpected headline jumped off the page and struck me like a jolt. The headline on the obituary page read, "Coach Artie Wright, 78, patriarch of Nassau County boys' soccer."

Make that the one and only Artie Wright. The Artie Wright who was the legendary boys' soccer coach at Oceanside High School. The same Artie Wright who was revered by his players and coaching colleagues alike. The same Artie Wright with a brilliant sense of humor, who told funny stories and made you laugh.

The same Artie Wright who was my phys ed teacher in junior high school.

Artie Wright was said to have died last Tuesday of natural causes at the age of 78. Such sad news. One of the truly great coaches -- and people -- is gone, and it's our loss.

My introduction to Mr. Wright was as a seventh-grader in what we called gym class back in 1975. No doubt, it was quite different from today's phys ed classes. Sure, we had dodge ball, rope climbing, indoor soccer and the like, but it was the paddles that I remember most.

Perhaps as a way to keep the students in line, the phys ed teachers in that school had wooden paddles that they threatened to -- and did -- use on occasion. (That may have been before lawyers were invented.)

Actually, it was pretty innocent stuff. Whenever a kid screwed up by talking when he shouldn't have been or by not wearing the required gym gear, he was summoned to the front of the class for a ceremonial paddling on the backside.

I was never on the receiving end of the paddle, but I saw that the paddlings were anything but severe. They amounted to little more than a tap. The student being disciplined was far more embarrassed than anything else.

It was a way of maintaining discipline, I suppose, but Mr. Wright, for one, didn't need a paddle to command attention, particularly on the soccer field.

Although I was a part of his soccer program, I never played for Mr. Wright's varsity team. When I entered the high school building as a sophomore, I was a goalkeeper for the junior varsity team. On the first day of preseason training. I was one of about eight goalies and some 60 players. Oceanside's soccer program was already long established and respected, and that wasn't by chance. Mr. Wright was as respected as he was well liked. When he spoke, players listened and learned. Even we young players could sense being in the presence of greatness.


© 2005 Times/Review Newspapers

Corpun file 15215

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock, 11 February 2005

Corporal punishment in state schools declines

By Phillip Reese

Fewer Arkansas schoolchildren are walking around with red bottoms.

The number of paddlings reported by Arkansas' schools dropped 16 percent from the 2000-2001 school year to the 2003-2004 school year, falling from 55,772 to 47,022, according to the Arkansas Department of Education.

Corporal punishment "is on its way out," said Randy Cox, a retired Little Rock social worker who runs an anti-corporal punishment Web site,

Schoolchildren, however, are still more likely to get paddled in Arkansas than in most other states. Only Texas and Mississippi had more paddlings than Arkansas during 2000, the last year for which national data are available.

Instead of paddling, administrators are opting to suspend problem students. From 2000 to 2004, in-school suspensions jumped 12 percent and out-of-school suspensions rose 3 percent, according to state data. The trend toward suspensions is unfortunate, supporters of corporal punishment say. "It clearly is counterproductive if a student is not in the classroom benefiting from instruction," said Tony Wood, superintendent of Searcy's public schools, where corporal punishment is frequently used.

The majority of paddlings are for disorderly conduct or insubordination, state data show. School districts must include a corporal punishment policy in student handbooks, but the state does not tell districts when they can spank a student.

Paddling is much more prevalent in southern and eastern Arkansas than it is in the central and northwest regions of the state.

In Chicot County, for example, administrators and teachers administered one paddling for every two students during the 2003-2004 school year. Across the state in Washington County, there was one paddling administered for every 500 students. And, some school districts, such as those in Pulaski County, don't practice corporal punishment.

Education officials said changing social attitudes largely explain Arkansas' drop in corporal punishment. Parents, particularly in urban areas, are less likely to want administrators to spank their children -- and school boards are listening. And, a growing concern about corporal punishment lawsuits also helps explain the trend.

While some school administrators praise paddlings as a quick, effective way to deal with misbehavior, opponents call corporal punishment, at best, ineffective and, at worst, harmful to children. "I think we've found better ways to deal with children," said Don Johnson, vice president of the Arkansas Parent Teacher Association. "So often corporal punishment makes us feel better but doesn't reach the root of the problem."


A school district's willingness to paddle children is often directly tied to the attitudes of parents. If support for the practice erodes among parents, paddlings will decrease, several school officials said. That happened in Hughes, a small school district in eastern Arkansas that recently stopped paddling kids. "We just found there were too many problems," said Randy Crowder, superintendent of the Hughes School District. "Parents get out of shape about it."

Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County school district officials don't paddle children. Neither do administrators in Springdale. School district officials in Sebastian and Craighead counties paddle children less often than administrators in other counties. "We try to hold parent conferences," said Suellen Vann, spokesman for the 25,700-student Little Rock School District, explaining alternatives to corporal punishment. "We'll suspend students if we have to. For the extremely serious infractions, we will expel the student. Typically, we try to work with the student."

Some look at areas where children seldom paddle children and surmise that urban districts with a high proportion of college-educated parents tend to reject corporal punishment. "I think enlightenment has a little bit to do with it," said Cox. "But I would be sensitive to whom I said that to. A lot of that is not just intelligence. It's the exposure."

Searcy has about 19,700 residents. Officials at the Searcy School District paddle children more often than almost every other district in the state, though paddlings are on the decline there. "We've had instances where a parent says, ‘My child is being put out of school and I would a lot rather... you exercise the rod as you did in my time,'" said Searcy School District Superintendent Wood, adding that he thinks paddlings can be effective.

School districts that paddle children are also more at risk for costly lawsuits, several education officials said.

No one keeps data on how often such lawsuits are filed, but they do occur. In 2000, paddlings at Dermott's public schools led to a lawsuit and a police investigation. During the mid-1990s, a Gould parent lost a lawsuit against a public school official who paddled her child. "The teachers are afraid to do it because of all the legal things attached to it," said Warren School District Superintendent Andrew Tolbert.


During the 2003-2004 school year, Trumann school district officials administered almost 1,500 paddlings -- even though just 1,730 children attend Trumann schools, education data show. The numbers include students who were spanked two or more times. Trumann Superintendent Joe Waleszonia said corporal punishment is a quick, effective way to discipline students. It gets the message across, he said, and gets children back into class. "It's over with. It's done," he said. "You don't miss school because of it. You're not out of the classroom but a short period of time." Wood, the Searcy superintendent, cited the same reasons when explaining why his administrators regularly use corporal punishment. During the 2003-2004 school year, his district, which has 3,700 students, issued about 1,400 paddlings. "What do [suspensions] solve?" Wood asked.

Students are often given a choice before a paddling -- take a few licks or face suspension, Wood said. Many choose a paddling. "I would prefer a paddling over a suspension on my record," said Jacob Jones, a freshman at Little Rock's Central High School, where corporal punishment is not practiced.

Others are unconvinced.

For one thing, paddlings can hurt a child. "I can't tell you that we haven't had the occasional child who was bruised," Waleszonia said. "Normally, we try to take care of that with the parents. We certainly don't intend to bruise anyone."

Some school administrators and corporal punishment opponents say paddling a child often sends a mixed signal.

Paul Kelly, senior policy analyst for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, cites as an example a child who is spanked for fighting with another child. "Imposing physical pain on a child for imposing physical pain on another child is the most blatant example of inappropriate discipline," he said.

Instead of paddling a child, Kelly and others said, teachers and administrators should take away privileges like recess or force students to attend after-school detention. Children could also be asked to research and write an essay detailing why their unwelcome behavior is wrong. "I think that the punishment needs to be quick and related to the offense," Kelly said.

As children grow older, corporal punishment becomes less effective, said Tolbert, whose district hardly ever paddles students.

State data show that middle school students are paddled most often, followed by elementary school students and then high school students. "On the secondary level, you get a guy that is 190 pounds taking three licks -- when you take away their privileges and give after-school detention, noon detention, that is a little bit more convincing than three swats and you go back to school," Tolbert said.

However, many parents believe that no one except them should lay a hand on their child. "I don't think [corporal punishment] belongs in school," said Beth Bays, who has a child in kindergarten in Mayflower in Faulkner County. "That's something that parents should handle and not teachers."

Others say some groups are disproportionately -- and unfairly -- targeted for corporal punishment. About 83 percent of schoolchildren paddled are boys, state data show. Roughly 34 percent of schoolchildren paddled are black. Blacks make up 23 percent of the state's public school population. "Corporal punishment in schools is used more often on poor children, minorities and males in particular," Cox said.

Effective or not, the use of corporal punishment will likely continue to decline, according to education officials and experts. The number of paddlings has dropped steadily each year for the past several years. "In a modern society, parents are going away from that," Crowder said.

Copyright © 2001-2004 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, 12 February 2005

Schools suspend fewer

Alternative program means fewer students taken out of classes

By Courtney Craig

Bowling Green and Warren County students are joining their peers throughout the state in following the rules more often, according to a report by the Kentucky Center for School Safety.

The Kentucky Safe Schools Data Report, released online Friday, includes data from school districts about disciplinary actions taken during the 2003-04 school year. Warren County and Bowling Green City Schools experienced drops in several areas.

Both districts reduced the number of suspensions given out because of law violations in schools. The county schools' number dropped to 26 from 28 in 2002-03, and the city schools dropped to 14 from 28.

Suspensions given because of board violations – offenses such as defying authority, fighting or disturbing class – also saw a drop in the city schools, to 413 in 2003-04 from 654 in 2002-03.

Jon Lawson, pupil personnel director for Bowling Green City Schools, attributes this drop to the continued success of the district's Eleventh Street Alternative School.

"Rather than suspend students, they're placed in this alternative program," he said. "They get counseling and do some community service. We feel good about it and feel it helps reduce the number of suspensions from school."

The number of suspensions resulting from board violations in Warren County schools rose to 274 from 207 in 2002-03. However, the number is still smaller than it was in 2001-02, when 1,056 students were suspended for board violations. Nancy Bertuleit, Safe and Drug-Free Schools specialist for the county schools, also attributes the county schools' Alternative to Suspension program for this.

"We didn't want to increase the number of kids without supervision," she said. "We want to keep them on track with academics and counsel them with decision making and goal setting and peer relationships. ... But in terms of the rise from 207 to 274, I don't have any one thing I attribute that to."

Both districts saw zero instances of corporal punishment. Bowling Green City Schools outlawed physical punishment for students long ago, but this is the first year Warren County Schools has seen zero instances.

The district leaves it up to each school's site-based decision-making council to determine whether corporal punishment is allowed in the school; the Safe Schools Report shows that none of Warren County's site-based councils allowed it in 2003-04.

"We don't want to use it and we don't encourage it, and no schools used it," Bertuleit said.

The Kentucky Safe Schools Data Report, now in its sixth year, is seeing uniform data for the first time this year. All 176 school districts in Kentucky are entering their disciplinary data into a computer program that organizes the information automatically, whereas some data previously had to be entered separately because some districts did not have the correct software.

Statewide, there have been no major changes in the types of violations that are most common in schools. Of the 7.88 percent of Kentucky students labeled "offenders," 77.64 percent of them are white, 19.69 percent are African-American and 2.66 percent were of other races.

In board violations, defiance of authority remains the most common offense, as it has been since at least 2001. Defiance saw a slight spike, with 2,010 more offenses in 2003-04 than in 2002-03.

The next most popular board violation in the state is fighting, followed by disturbing class. Bertuleit and Lawson said these numbers mirror the most common offenses in their districts.

"Defiance of authority covers a wide range of things, from not being on task in class to being very disrespectful or defiant," Lawson said.

In law violations, Part 1 offenses – crimes against a person or property that are considered to be the most serious violations – have dropped for the past three years. In 2001-02, there were 992 offenses statewide; 878 in 2002-03; and just 510 in 2003-04.

Increased security in schools, including school resource officers, could be partially responsible for this improvement, Bertuleit said.

"I also think we're encouraging students to report things," she said. "So I'd like to think students are developing a more intrinsic kind of control against those kinds of violations for fear of being caught."

The most common Part 1 law violation statewide is aggravated assault, followed by theft, but both of those took a drop in 2003-04. Aggravated assault saw 125 fewer occurrences, while theft saw 99 fewer.

Part 2 law violations – those that may end in arrest, but are considered less serious than Part 1 offenses – have also dropped. The most common Part 2 law violation is drug abuse, which spiked in 2003-04, with 581 more occurrences statewide.

But Bertuleit said this doesn't necessarily mean more kids are using drugs. In some districts, including Warren County, all medications – even Tylenol or aspirin – have to be cleared through the front office before they are allowed in schools. A child caught with medicine that has not been cleared could be guilty of a drug-abuse violation.

"Also, it could be that schools are more vigilant about catching drugs," Bertuleit said. "It's a sensitive issue – people take every effort to keep drugs out of schools. We're getting better at confiscating, and that's a good thing."

According to the Safe Schools Data Report, as Part 1 and Part 2 law violations dropped, so did the violations committed by different subgroups in the state. Since 2002-03, there have been 263 fewer Part 1 and 933 fewer Part 2 law violations committed by boys; 105 fewer Part 1 and 363 fewer Part 2 law violations committed by girls; 60 fewer Part 1 and 631 fewer Part 2 law violations committed by white students; and 297 fewer Part 1 and 647 fewer Part 2 law violations committed by black students.

-- For the complete report, visit and click on the link for the 2004 Kentucky Safe Schools Data Report.

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The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 13 February 2005

Corporal punishment views led to expulsion

By Ty McMahan
The Oklahoman

Scott McConnell remembers the day his fourth-grade teacher pulled him into a hallway of Durant's Robert E. Lee Elementary School with a paddle in her hand. He had caused classroom disruptions and did not do his school work.

His punishment: swats with a paddle.

At the time, McConnell was not a fan of the discipline method, but it worked.

"She (the teacher) looked at me and said 'Are we going to have any more problems?' I said, 'No,' and went home. After that, I did my work," McConnell said in a phone interview. "I knew what would happen if I didn't follow the rules."

Years later, he said he believes corporal punishment works, but he said his belief got him kicked out of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., where he was an education graduate student.

McConnell shared his support for corporal punishment in a class paper.

"In New York, it's a little different," McConnell said. "In Oklahoma, they wouldn't think anything of what I wrote."

Kicked out

McConnell earned an "A" for the assignment, but under the letter mark on the paper the professor wrote McConnell's ideas were "interesting" and that he planned to share them with the school's education department chairman.

Jan. 15, McConnell received a certified letter from the chairman, Cathy Leogrande, indicating he would not be allowed back to Le Moyne, even though he made A's in all of his classes.

McConnell said Leogrande wrote, "I have grave concerns regarding the mismatch between your personal beliefs regarding teaching and learning and the Le Moyne College program goals. Based on this data I do not believe you should continue with the Le Moyne program."

Leogrande provided a statement to The Oklahoman saying: "As an independent institution, Le Moyne has the right to accept or reject, based on a variety of criteria, an individual for acceptance as a matriculated student. If we believe a student is not suitable for the classroom based on, among other things, his or her educational philosophy, we have an obligation as an institution to act in a manner that is consistent with the College's mission and that upholds New York State law and education regulations."

A paper trail

McConnell has worked as a substitute teacher in the Syracuse area, but since Le Moyne decided not to allow him to be a student, the school system won't let him work. Corporal punishment is outlawed in New York.

McConnell said he met with Leogrande and asked her if his views on corporal punishment were the reason the college believed he shouldn't teach.

"She looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Yes, it was your paper,'" McConnell said.

The assignment in McConnell's class asked for his philosophy on discipline. In the paper he wrote, "I also feel that corporal punishment has a place in the classroom and should be implemented when needed." He said that was his only mention of the method.

McConnell said his view on corporal punishment developed not only from his experience as a young student in Oklahoma, but also from observing students during his time as a substitute teacher. He said he saw several unruly students. Some even cursed at teachers.

"I'm thinking to myself that if they had the same type of discipline that I had, then they wouldn't do these things," McConnell said.

In 1997, McConnell graduated from East Central High School in Tulsa, where his family still lives. He served in the Army and then decided to go to college to become a teacher.

McConnell is now pursuing his master's degree at Oswego State University of New York. He also is searching for an attorney who can help him understand his student rights.

"I'm not going to let Le Moyne kick me down and stop me from teaching," McConnell said. "This is what I want to do."

blob Follow-up: 10 March 2005 - College Expels Student Who Advocated Corporal Punishment

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The Enquirer-Journal, Monroe, N. Carolina, 13 February 2005

One school paddles half of all disciplined students

By John Tompkins

More than half of all paddling of students in Union County schools was done at just one school last year.

Out of 457 reported cases of corporal punishment during the 2003-2004 school year, 232 were at East Union Middle School. And only a handful of other schools accounted for the rest. Twenty-five schools did not discipline students by paddling.

The Union County Public Schools Code of Student Conduct allows the use of corporal punishment, but records obtained by The Enquirer-Journal showed the practice in use in just nine of the system's 34 schools during the 2003-04 school year.

Of those, East Union led the pack, followed by Western Union Elementary with 99 uses of corporal punishment, and Walter Bickett Elementary with 62 paddlings. Parkwood Middle only recorded one use of corporal punishment and Marshville Elementary and East Elementary only applied the practice twice.

Sixty-two times corporal punishment was administered to an exceptional child. That doesn't always mean someone with a serious mental or physical handicap, said Luan Ingram, public information officer for UCPS. She said a student who undergoes speech therapy can be classified as exceptional.

Ingram said corporal punishment is considered system-wide as paddling a student. The records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the school system indicate that students receive anywhere from one to three "licks", or blows, of the paddle. The records also indicate the grade level, race, and gender of the student and give a brief code of what the offense was.

Most students got the wooden "board of education" for aggressive behavior against a fellow student (76 times) or for willful non-compliance (71 times). Students also received corporal punishment for showing disrespect to a teacher (42 times) and being disruptive to a class (55 times).

The report does not indicate who administered the corporal punishment, who witnessed the administration of the punishment, what disciplinary action was taken previously against the student, or how many of the 457 occurrences were students who were repeat offenders.

In some cases, corporal punishment is given on the same day as the offense, and in others, it is administered up to seven days after the offense.

"Surprised," was the word Ingram used to describe the results of the records. Ingram said the central offices of the school system doesn't track or call for information on corporal punishment. The system has not received any complaints about any specific incidents of corporal punishment over the years, she said.

The numbers show, on average, males received corporal punishment 82.6 percent of the time, and African-American and white students were nearly even in the percentage receiving corporal punishment-- 47.6 percent for African-Americans and 46.1 percent for whites.

Most the schools that used corporal punishment in the 2003-2004 school year also had a higher percentage of minority students than the county average, with the exceptions of Hemby Bridge and Unionville Elementary. That doesn't mean that all schools with higher than average minority enrollment used corporal punishment. Wingate Elementary and Monroe Middle did not use paddling as a form of punishment.

The numbers could change drastically during the 2004-2005 year, as the principals at East Union Middle and Western Union Elementary both retired at the end of the 2003-2004 school year. Lewis Barlow, the new principal at East Union said he does not use corporal punishment in his school. On Feb. 4, Superintendent Jerry Thomas instructed all school administrators to halt the practice of corporal punishment until the Board of Education decides to keep the policy or abandon it.

blob Follow-up: 16 February 2005 - Union paddlings mostly in 2 schools

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The Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, Florida, 14 February 2005

A look back

Eagles, Hurricanes, Tarpons and punishment

By Paul Degaeta


Punta Gorda Middle School students, including my youngest son, Joey, return to their campus today.

Like their mascot, the Eagle, their spirits are soaring. But as a parent looking ahead, that excitement is tempered by reality.

Joey's class -- most of which will be attending Charlotte High -- could receive the remainder of their education in portable classrooms.

The Tarpon class of 2010 might be lucky to ever see the inside of the refurbished three-story building on Cooper Street.

Last week, while still cleaning up from Hurricane Charley, I came across an old memento from the predecessor of Punta Gorda Middle School. It was a Charlotte Junior High School pennant from when I attended in the 1960s and we were called the "Hurricanes."

The irony! Hurricanes are what delayed the initial construction of Charlotte High in 1926; destroyed it and Punta Gorda Middle School in 2004; and are the reason portables will now dot the adjacent campuses, which at one time were combined as Charlotte Junior/Senior High School.

Small towns like Punta Gorda often combined schools. "Tarpons" generally attended classes in the three-story building. Underclassmen, "Hurricanes," went to the alphabetically identified wing blocks of classrooms that lay to the northeast.

I came over to CJSHS from Peace River Elementary. Virginia Lawless was my seventh grade home room teacher. Her husband, James, served a stint as Superintendent of Charlotte County Schools. I knew some of the Punta Gorda children from Little League like Bucky Winesett, who later served as league president, and Mark Christensen, now an assistant principal at Port Charlotte High. As our county grew, the Peace River became a boundary and those of us on the north side inaugurated Port Charlotte Little League on a field where the Cultural Center parking lot is now.

Still, being thrown in to CJSHS with Sallie Jones and East Elementary children required some settling in.

Obviously it didn't always go smoothly. But this was an era when paddling was allowed, if not encouraged, to hold discipline. A "lick," could be doled out by a teacher for misbehaving. You could cash in a detention for two licks.

For purely historical purposes the process went like this: Class would be stopped, and the offender would be taken out of the room. Another teacher would be called out to witness as you bent over, grabbed a cement bench, and took your punishment.

How do I remember the process so well? Practice, practice, practice. I led the school with 37 "licks" that year. I'd imagine many of you are aghast at this practice, which pretty much disappeared by 1968 or '69. But I deserved every single one and was a lot less disruptive after that year.

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Charlotte Observer, N. Carolina, 16 February 2005

Union paddlings mostly in 2 schools

They accounted for nearly 75% of corporal punishment last year

By Emily S. Achenbaum
Staff Writer

Union County's now-suspended use of corporal punishment was applied inconsistently last year, with two schools accounting for nearly 75 percent of the paddlings in the district.

Students at East Union Middle School in Marshville received corporal punishment 235 times in the 2003-04 school year, half the 474 instances of the punishment districtwide that year.

Western Union Elementary School in Waxhaw accounted for a quarter of the paddlings. Both schools have seen large drops in the discipline's use this year, with the retirement of long-serving principals who favored it.

The remaining quarter of paddlings took place at six schools. Only eight of the district's 34 schools used corporal punishment last year, although the practice wasn't being used at the county's six high schools.

A school's administrators -- namely its principal -- decide when corporal punishment should be used, and typically administer it themselves.

East Union's former principal, Larry Stinson, who retired last year after 32 years in education, was one principal known to support corporal punishment as discipline because parents wanted it, school officials said.

"It's an individual decision" to use the punishment, said Luan Ingram, Union schools' public information officer. "He (Stinson) had a relationship with his school community; he had parents' support. No one ever complained," she said. Stinson couldn't be reached for comment.

East Union is in Union's rural half, about 35 miles southeast of Charlotte. This year, there hasn't been a single incident of corporal punishment at East Union.

"We just don't use it," said new Principal Lou Barlow.

Corporal punishment is frequently performed at parents' request, and it was typically a few swipes of a paddle, school staff said. Parental consent is highly recommended, but not required.

Parent complaints in the past several months led the district to review its corporal punishment policy. Two weeks ago, Union suspended it, but the issue isn't over.

While the superintendent wants it abolished, the board is split, with the chairman and head of the policy committee saying they want to keep it. The school board is expected to vote on the policy in the next few months.

Despite recent public pressure, the big drop seen in use this year -- to date, only 43 incidents have been reported -- isn't completely related to the protests.

Western Union Elementary, for example, accounted for 114 paddlings in 2003-04, or about a quarter of the districtwide figure.

Former Principal Jerry Cross also retired last year after 39 years in education; this year, under a new principal and halfway through the academic year, the school has used corporal punishment only 12 times.

"Paddling was for repeat offenses," said Cross, now working as the district's school safety coordinator.

"I don't really like suspensions. I don't like to see them out of the classroom," he said. "We never paddled anyone unless the parents chose it as an option. It's one of the options I had."

Still, the parental controversy in Union has made a difference in how principals are using discipline, spokeswoman Ingram said.

"When this started becoming an issue, a lot of principals were paying attention, and the thinking was, 'Let's hold off and see where this goes,'" Ingram said. "They didn't stop because what they thought they were doing was wrong. Corporal punishment is permissible under N.C. law."

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The Miami Herald, Florida, 17 February 2005

Crime watch group endorses use of paddle

By Brighton Watambwa


The possible return of corporal punishment in Miami Gardens took center stage last week at a community meeting hosted by the Brentwood Citizens' Crime Watch Organization. Residents expressed concern at an apparent increase in lawlessness at schools in the area, particularly at Carol City middle and Carol City high schools.

Delinquent behavior like gang fights outside school and an increase in drug-related activities led to some calling for the reintroduction of such "deterrents" as the paddle, which, they said, could play a vital part in a child's development, enforcing proper behavior from an early age. The Feb. 7 meeting, chaired by Dorothy Smith, head of the crime watch group, featured representatives from Miami Gardens police, the Miami-Dade Police Gang Unit and Miami-Dade County Public Schools. It was attended by an older crowd, who were unanimous that absence of corporal punishment was to blame for most of the behavioral problems at schools.

The idea of paddling won broad support at the meeting, but no decision was made on whether to pursue it with school district authorities. The consensus was that parents needed to play a more-active role in their child's after-school activities and general upbringing.

Some blamed younger parents who, they said, did not take as active a role in their children's lives as they should. One example: Few young parents attend PTA meetings.

Representatives from Carol City police, the Miami-Dade Police Gang Unit and Miami-Dade County Public Schools spoke at the meeting. Most felt their job would be simpler if parents were more aware of the whereabouts and activities of their children.


Copyright (c) 2005 The Miami Herald

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Charlotte Observer, N. Carolina, 19 February 2005

Spanking lopsided at Union schools

Minorities were disciplined disproportionately at 3 schools

By Emily S. Achenbaum
Staff Writer

Black students received corporal punishment in Union County last year well out of proportion to their numbers in the student population.

The findings come from an Observer analysis of the three Union schools that used corporal punishment the most in the 2003-04 school year. Critics of corporal punishment maintain that minorities and other groups such as the disabled receive it at higher rates than others.

The issue is under scrutiny in Union where the practice has been suspended as school officials reconsider their policy after strong parental opposition.

During Union's 2003-04 school year, corporal punishment was used 474 times at eight of the district's 34 schools..

The three schools examined -- East Union Middle in Marshville, Western Union Elementary in Waxhaw and Walter Bickett Elementary in Monroe -- together accounted for more than 85 percent of corporal punishment use in the district that year. East Union accounted for roughly half, and Western Union another quarter.

• At East Union, blacks received 58 percent of the paddlings but make up 30 percent of the school's population.

• At Walter Bickett, blacks received 82 percent of the paddlings and make up 47 percent of the population.

• At Western Union Elementary, blacks received 46.5 percent of the paddlings and make up 19 percent of the population.

District spokeswoman Luan Ingram has said the principals at East Union and Western Union, both now retired, had support from their communities in using corporal punishment. East Union no longer uses the practice and incidents have dropped at Western Union, according to school district data. The principal of Walter Bickett could not be reached Friday.

Union school officials say there is no evidence of bias in how the punishment was used.

"The race of a student and the behavior they engaged in are two separate things," Ingram said. "Students were disciplined for behaviors, not for their race."

"I had thought the percentages were pretty close to equal" for blacks and whites, said Phil Martin, Union County Board of Education chair. Martin, who is for keeping corporal punishment, said he'd have to examine each incident to comment further.

But educators against corporal punishment say minorities, specifically blacks, are hit at least twice as often as white children, says Nadine Block, executive director of the Columbus, Ohio-based nonprofit corporal punishment opponent, the Center for Effective Discipline. A U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights study made the same findings.

"I don't know why," Block said. But "there is the appearance of discrimination."

In December, black organizations and leaders, including the NAACP, signed a proclamation calling for a national ban on corporal punishment.

Critics say other groups of children also receive the punishment at a disproportionate rate.

In Union County, boys of all races received corporal punishment at a rate far higher than girls. At the three Union schools, 76 percent to 85 percent of the paddlings were given to boys.

It's not unusual to hear boys, even at the kindergarten level, are being disciplined more frequently and severely than girls, Block said.

"A lot of girls are hit, but there is the perception that girls are nicer, making them hard to hit," she said. "Boys, in general, are a little less mature than girls at the beginning of school. More boys are held back in school, or put into special education."

Public acceptance for the punishment has waned in recent years due to changing social standards and increased litigation, according to the National Association of School Psychologists.

The association estimates more than 250,000 children are struck each year in public schools, with a disproportionate number being minorities and disabled children. The association says corporal punishment can easily be abused, and that evidence indicates it can harm a student's social, psychological and educational development.

A federal study of the 1999-2000 school year found Union used corporal punishment on disabled students more than any other district in the state, with 85 instances. In 2003-04, 61 of the 474 incidents involved children with some sort of disability.

Union school officials have pointed out that children with learning disabilities and emotional difficulties are classified as disabled.

Proponents of corporal punishment describe it as a choice that school administrators and parents should have the right to make. They say it can be more favorable than suspensions because children don't miss class time.

Union suspended corporal punishment three weeks ago, but the issue isn't settled.

While the superintendent wants it abolished, the board is split, with the chairman and head of the policy committee saying they want to keep it. The school board has scheduled a work session March 9 to discuss the policy.

blob Follow-up: 10 March 2005 - Union schools: Paddling unlikely

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McAlester News-Capital, Oklahoma, 25 February 2005

Canadian school settles student paddling lawsuit

By Doug Russell
News Editor

Paddling a student is costing Canadian Public Schools $15,000. [This has nothing to do with Canada -- it is the name of a school system in Oklahoma. -- C.F.]

In a case settled Tuesday, Brandy Davis alleged that Canadian Elementary School Principal Rocky Farris had used too much force when he paddled Davis' son on Sept. 8, 2003.

According to Davis' claim, the wooden paddle Farris used left the boy's buttocks bruised, red and inflamed and caused him extreme physical pain, as well as embarrassment.

Without admitting any wrongdoing, Canadian schools agreed to settle the case, with the settlement money to be paid by the school's insurance company.

"Alleged is the key word," Superintendent Rodney Karch said. "It wasn't excessive. We've paddled lots of kids before and never had this kind of problem."

School officials usually try to discipline students by other means, Karch said, but in some cases corporal punishment is used.

In the case of Davis' son, his fifth grade teacher initially began trying to correct misbehavior by assigning additional schoolwork, according to court documents. Brandy Davis told school officials she did not want the school to send home additional work.

Instead, she said she would prefer it if the school used corporal punishment to discipline her son.

On Sept. 8, 2003, Farris whipped two students, allegedly giving each three swats with a wooden paddle.

The Davis boy's stepfather allegedly discovered bruises on his behind when the boy was getting ready to take a bath or shower that night. No complaint was ever lodged by the parents of the other paddled student, according to court documents.

In addition, attorneys for the school district said that Brandy Davis' son had received previous paddlings, including some when he was in the first grade, and had never suffered injury from those.

Davis' attorney was in court this morning and could not be reached for comment on the settlement.

"I feel like we were sort of victims too," Karch said, adding that Davis had not talked to school officials after finding marks on the boy.

Davis' son remains a student at Canadian Public Schools, Karch said.

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The Daily Citizen, Searcy, Arkansas, 27 February 2005

Paddlings in school frequent, but not an issue

Searcy among tops in nation in amount of corporal punishment

By Joe Goldstein
The Daily Citizen

As the debate continues for how best to deal with student management in schools one part of that debate is rising again in the public spotlight: the question of whether or not to use corporal punishment as a means of official discipline.

Searcy Public Schools are at the middle of the debate for continuing to use corporal punishment and at a rate higher than most schools that still employ corporal punishment.

It's the paddle and many adults experienced a generation when there was no question about its use. You got in trouble with the teacher, you got the wood. Simple.

Now times are changing - have already changed in many places - and the use of the paddle has diminished greatly.

But not in Arkansas schools. And not in Searcy.

Across the nation only 22 states still allow the use of corporal punishment in public schools, of which Arkansas is one. It is against the law in the other 28 states.

Arkansas ranks only second to Mississippi in the amount of paddlings recorded, and in Arkansas, Searcy ranks among the highest in the state for most paddlings recorded.

Searcy Public Schools paddled students at a rate of almost one out of two during the 2003-2004 school year, according to data provided by the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE).

The first debate is whether or not corporal punishment should even be legal.

In Arkansas it is legal so the local debate moves on to the question of when do you use it.

Searcy's principals have varying ideas as to which misbehavior warrants corporal punishment.

In the 2003-2004 school year there were 1,363 paddling instances in the Searcy school district, according to ADE.

At Searcy High School, Principal Ronny Brown offers corporal punishment as an alternative to students who have been given detention.

Given the alternative, most choose detention over a paddling, he said.

Some students decide otherwise. There were 890 instances of corporal punishment at Searcy High in 2003-2004, according to ADE.

Principal William Dunaway of Ahlf Junior High School has a similar policy. He rates two licks of the paddle as equaling a morning detention.

Getting caught chewing gum, wearing sagging pants, being tardy, and skipping homework will force a student to choose between a detention and a paddling, Dunaway said.

But violent transgressions at Ahlf Junior High will never lead to paddling, Dunaway said.

And that is the issue that is at hand with some of the opposition against corporal punishment, the belief that violence (as some opposition view paddling) can never deter violence but only breed it.

"With any kind of altercation of a violent matter, I will never consider corporal punishment," Dunaway said. "Because then we violate the idea that violence is never an answer to violence."

Dunaway's corporal punishment policy, however, differs from the policy that some junior high students grew accustomed to in elementary school in Searcy.

Principal James Gurchiek of McRae Elementary School uses the paddle to punish fighting as well as bullying and repeated instances of disrespect towards a teacher.

"It is generally pretty severe," said Gurchiek of the type of behavior that will result in a paddling at McRae.

"Paddling will not be used for a first offense unless it's a knock-down fight," said Gurchiek.

Searcy Superintendent Tony Wood said that corporal punishment, unlike suspension, is speedy and does not result in students missing long periods of class.

"There is a limit of what types of corrective action can be taken," said Wood. "Corporal punishment is in use. Were it to be removed then there would only be suspension that could be pursued. Then the question is whether more damage is done when students are withdrawn from the classroom. I don't have a perfect solution."

"It would be speculation," responded Wood when asked whether corporal punishment or suspension is more effective in changing behavior.

There are those who do not believe that corporal punishment ought to be used as an alternative to detention or suspension. Randy Cox, a retired social worker in Little Rock who runs the web site, does not believe that a child should ever be paddled by an administrator in school.

"No research shows hitting a child with a board is a safe thing to do," said Cox.

"There's no teachers' college in the nation that teaches corporal punishment," said Cox. Instead, teachers study how to instruct students and maintain order without violence, wrote Cox in an e-mail.

But Wood believes that the school district's policy on corporal punishment is a policy to defer to parental wishes.

Depending on what school their child attends, parents can request that their child be exempt from paddlings either by checking a box during the registration process or by sending in a note, said Searcy Schools Communication Coordinator Jean Ann Bell.

Many parents encourage administrators to use corporal punishment to discipline misbehavior, said Principal Doug Langston of Westside Elementary School.

"By and large our parents are supportive of our use of corporal punishment," said Langston.

"I've had parents say, 'I want you to go ahead and dust their bottom,' and I sometimes respond that I don't think we're at that point," said Gurchiek.

Presidents of the PTOs at McRae, Sidney Deener and Westside elementary schools all say that corporal punishment has never been a subject of controversy during their tenures.

Because Searcy parents choose for themselves each year whether school administrators can paddle their child, Searcy parents may consider corporal punishment in schools as a private issue and not as a public one.

"It's a family issue," said Cathy Liles, president of the PTO at Sidney Deener. Parents choose for themselves whether their child may be paddled in schools, said Liles.

But some legal experts differentiate between a parent spanking their own child and a school official doing so.

"No states prohibit parents from spanking their own children," said Howard Davidson of the Center on Children and the Law at the American Bar Association. What makes schools different is that they are an "institutional setting," explained Davidson.

"Schools are the last bastion, you might say," of state institutions that permit the infliction of physical pain as punishment, said Davidson.

"Even in adult prisons corporal punishment is not permitted," said Davidson.

But others believe that corporal punishment is a necessary and appropriate last resort for disciplining children who are misbehaving.

"A disobedient or defiant child may be uncontrollable unless he is spanked," said Bridget Maher, an analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. Maher believes that corporal punishment should be used in schools only with a parent's permission.

"Parents and teachers can responsibly spank kids without hurting them for life," said Maher.

In Principal Dunaway's view, Ahlf Junior High's use of corporal punishment serves neither the interests of punishment or revenge.

"This is not a pound of flesh, or an eye for an eye. What we want is to modify or terminate undesirable behavior," Dunaway said.

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