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School CP - September 1986

Corpun file 7041

Houston Chronicle, Texas, 7 September 1986

Bill prohibits teacher from hitting students

United Press International

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The California Assembly has given final passage to a bill that would prohibit spanking or other corporal punishment by public school teachers.

The measure was sent to Gov. George Deukmejian when the Assembly adopted Senate amendments to the legislation on a 42-33 vote -- just one more vote than the majority needed in the 80-member house.

"Children don't learn when they're threatened, particularly when threatened by violent punishment," argued Assemblyman Sam Farr, D-Carmel, author of the measure.

Corporal punishment has been outlawed in state prisons, youth authorities and child care centers, but school boards are allowed to adopt rules permitting spanking of students if parents give prior written consent.

Corpun file 22775

Orlando Sentinel, Florida, 11 September 1986

Schools Tell Rules Of Paddling

Corporal Punishment Viewed As Last Resort

By Kirsten Gallagher of The Sentinel Staff

MAITLAND -- Corporal punishment is regularly used in Seminole and Orange County schools, but only as a last resort, school administrators told pediatricians Wednesday.

In Seminole schools in 1985, there were 2,356 cases in which students, mostly in high school, were hit with wooden paddles by their teachers or principals, said Martin Kirsch, assistant principal of Casselberry Elementary School. However, his school prefers other methods of discipline, such as making students clean classrooms after school and limiting their play time, Kirsch told 40 members of the Central Florida Pediatrics Society during a panel discussion.

Although he did not defend corporal punishment, Bill Thomas, Orange County assistant to the superintendent for administrative services, said corporal punishment often is the only way to handle students who continually misbehave. In Orange County about 10 percent of the students receive 90 percent of the paddlings, and most occur in elementary schools, he said.

'Many of our children are disruptive and keep other children from learning in the school system," he said.

The pediatrics society decided to hold the panel discussion after a questionnaire showed that many members were uninformed about corporal punishment. Once better educated, the society may take a stand on the issue, president Stephen Albert said.

Under state law, a teacher may paddle a student only in the presence of another adult after notifying the principal, who may choose to paddle the child, and informing parents about the reason for the punishment.

The conduct code for Seminole County students adds that they may be paddled only if they show continual disobedience, have harmed other students or have destroyed school property.

Children will behave better if they are complimented on what they do well, said Rebecca Deal, an Altamonte Springs clinical psychologist.

"It is very unethical to eliminate negative behavior without positive reinforcement," she said.

The Orlando Child Protection Team, which monitors child abuse, investigates about three cases of corporal punishment a year, said medical director Penny Tokarski. Under its rules, if a child shows bruises 24 hours after he was disciplined, he was abused.

Studies show that for corporal punishment to make its point, it has to be administered often, which means physical abuse, she said. People who are beaten a lot are more prone to emotional problems and deviant behavior that often is violent, she said.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 47 states allow corporal punishment and county school boards cannot prohibit it.

The Seminole County Task Force on Child Abuse is lobbying to abolish corporal punishment, Deal said.

Even if they do not use it, most teachers and principals would still like to keep corporal punishment as an option if all else fails, Thomas and Kirsch said.

However, parents are the key to disciplining students, the panelists said. "Parent apathy about behavior puts the entire burden of discipline on the school," Kirsch said.

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