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School CP - March 1994


USA Today, 14 March 1994

Little paddling won't hurt

By Gary L. Bauer

The National Association of Elementary School Principals has apparently joined the ranks of those who believe there's just too much discipline in the nation's schools. I agree that there is way too much corporal punishment in the schools, but my reading of the data suggests that the real problems are students punishing teachers, students punishing each other and society taking the worst hits of all.

America faces a crisis of character. Many educators, the very people who ought to have benefited most from a deep acquaintance with history and literature, are sunk in the mud of moral relativism, and civility in the schools has been sinking with them. Consider a few statistics from a recent survey by the National School Boards Association:

-- Each day, some 135,000 guns make the trip to school in the pockets of students.

-- 78% of school districts report student-on-student violence in the past year.

-- 60% of urban school districts report student assaults on teachers in the past year.

-- Overall, some 82% of school districts report that violence in the schools has increased "significantly" or "somewhat" in the past five years.

The same NASB report also found that 77% of those responding felt that "changing family situations" (we are all too polite to say "deteriorating family situations," but a Family Research Council poll last year found that 72% of Americans believe family life is decaying, not merely evolving) and lack of parental discipline are keys to the growing problem of violence.

What will banning spanking in the schools do to reverse this situation? Well, nothing exactly, which is why a vote in its favor is such an easy display of sensitivity. I favor letting parents make this decision, including the decision whether or not to delegate this authority to the local school.

Corporal punishment in the schools is increasingly rare, so it's reasonable to assume that gestures to ban it have as their real target the long-held liberal dream to ban it as well in the home. That would be tragic, because more and more of our young people are entering school ready to disrupt, not to learn.

Copyright 1994, USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co., Inc.

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