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School CP - December 1996


USA Today, 2 December 1996

Spanking on the decline in U.S. schools

Caning may be gaining support in Great Britain, but the sentiment in the USA seems to be spare the rod.

Latest figures on school corporal punishment are 4 years old, but they show a steady 10-year decline in spanking. Incidents in the past four years are "way down and heading south fast," says Robert Fathman of the National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools.

Kathy Christie of the Education Commission of the States says, "When the rubber hits the road, school authorities realize it's not the best option."

Two attempts in the past 12 months to reinstate corporal punishment have failed: in the California Assembly, where a bill lost 49-19; and in the Jackson School District, the largest in Mississippi, where the board vote was 3-2.

Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia now forbid corporal punishment in schools, up from one in 1971. West Virginia, in 1994, was the last state to vote a ban.

Whatever has happened in the states, "I'm pretty sure it's diminished district by district," says June Million of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

In Ohio, which has no ban, only 40 districts out of 612 allow it, and "even in those districts, the number of incidents continues to drop," Fathman says.

Catholic schools, "which traditionally were heavy hitters, have pretty much eliminated it," says Irwin Hyman of Temple University's National Center for the Study of Corporal Punishment and Alternatives. "Where it is increasing is in the Christian academies with a fundamentalist bent." He says all data are inexact: "These are my perceptions."

Hyman characterizes the South -- particularly Mississippi and rural areas of Texas -- as "basket cases" when it comes to corporal punishment. "I don't know of a single case in Mississippi that even reached the courts. Parents can't even get a lawyer."

Ron Wilson of the Texas House of Representatives supports corporal punishment as an effective tool when used wisely. "It's a great deterrent for aberrant behavior," he says. "Fear is part of the educational process; it just is."

Many districts in Texas don't use it, he says, and he has sponsored bills to make it state policy: "Spare the rod, spoil the child."

Since 1994, laws have been written in several states giving teachers more latitude to protect themselves against assaults by students, but instead of physical punishment, offenders face arrest, expulsion, community service or a monetary fine. In Oregon, a superintendent may get a student's driver's license lifted.

"There is a strengthening in the all-over discipline component," Christie says, but spanking isn't included.

Two years ago, 469 delegates to the National Association of Elementary School Principals meeting in Orlando voted against corporal punishment -- a tough vote, Million says, because "there are places that have it and parents who demand it." The vote to oppose was unanimous.

The principals felt that corporal punishment might increase violence in an already violent society, Million says. "It is not a good example."

Dozens of other national organizations also oppose it, including the National Education Association and the national board of the PTA.

Instances of corporal punishment in public schools have been tracked by the U.S. Department of Education since 1982, when the number was 1,415,540. In 1992, the number was 555,531. Figures for 1994 will be announced next month.

Corpun file 4024

CBS logo

WRAL OnLine, Raleigh, North Carolina, 12 December 1996

Student Spanking Approved in Nash-Rocky Mount

School buses and students
(WRAL-TV5 News)

ROCKY MOUNT -- The Nash-Rocky Mount School board says it will allow students to be spanked when necessary. The board voted Wednesday night to allow corporal punishment in its schools.

Each school within the system will be able to decide whether its staff will use that method of discipline. Board members say the new policy will enable schools to avoid suspensions and enforce control.

The board also voted to allow individual schools to require students to wear uniforms.

Corpun file 1668


Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 14 December 1996

Rally backs educator tied to spanking

By Bill Montgomery
Staff Writer

About 80 parents rallied Thursday in support of a Christian school director accused of child cruelty for spanking an 11-year-old male student.

Judith Lyon, 45, founder and director of the Solid Rock Academy in Riverdale, was charged after a complaint was filed by the boy's mother, who said Lyon hit her son last month with a pair of rulers taped together, bruising his left arm and leg.

Lyon would not accept questions at the rally, standing silently by while College Park attorney Delmarie Griffin-Strong told reporters that the assembled parents support Lyon and feel that the child cruelty charges were unjustified.

"Every parent is aware that a ruler, carefully wrapped to avoid scrapes or bruises, is occasionally used as a means of minimizing students' mischief," Griffin-Strong said.

She said police and media reports that a "stick" was used to discipline students "unfairly distort the honorable character of Judith Lyon."

Lyon's attorney, Coleman Eaton, said Lyon told him she "administered five licks to the boy," who was being disruptive. "She was smacking him on the buttocks, and he tried to shield himself and she hit him on the arm," Eaton said. "The child came back to school the next day."

Lyon, arrested Dec. 5 on a warrant obtained by the boy's mother, is free on $5,000 bond. The incident is under investigation by District Attorney Bob Keller's office, Eaton said.

The private school, at Solid Rock Baptist Church on Camp Road, was founded by Lyon in 1985. The current enrollment is 168 students, who range from 3-year-olds to eighth-graders.

Copyright 1996, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, All rights reserved.


Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Alabama, 23 December 1996

To spank or not to spank?

By Anissa Clemons
Staff Writer

When Carey and Cassie Browder look at their children with demanding eyes, the three school-age siblings usually clean up their act.

Occasionally, more than a look is necessary to correct discipline problems, the young couple said. Sometimes, a good spanking is in order.

"It's a last resort," Mrs. Browder said.

The Russell County couple agrees spanking should be a discipline tool for parents but that's where spankings should end, Mrs. Browder said.

"I don't believe in schools spanking them," she said. "That's not their job, that's my place."

Like the Browders, 87 percent of 402 Alabama parents polled by the Mobile Register-University of South Alabama, agree spankings should be used to discipline children. Ten percent disagreed.

The poll released Sunday also asked parents of school-age children whether they would allow a teacher to use corporal punishment on their child. Slightly more than half said they would, while 37 percent said they wouldn't.

Sixty percent of individuals without school-age children favored corporal punishment in school, saying teachers should be allowed to spank misbehaving students and 34 percent saying they shouldn't.

Since corporal punishment is legal in Alabama, parents must request in writing that their children not be spanked. Teachers aren't allowed to paddle students. Local policies stipulate principals or designated individuals, such as assistant principals, are the only ones who may administer a paddling, said T. Larry Thacker, superintendent of Russell County schools.

"Some parents agree with it, some don't," Thacker said.

The number of parents in the Phenix City and Russell County school systems consenting to corporal punishment wasn't available immediately.

Spankings correct behavior in some instances, Thacker said.

"It's like everything else," he said. "No one thing works for everybody."

Mrs. Browder said, "A principal or assistant principal might be having a bad day and could take it out on our child."

Her husband said children disciplined correctly at home shouldn't "cut up" in school.

The Browder's children -- David, 9, Joshua, 7, and Heather, 5 -- attend Ladonia Elementary School and have been told they're in trouble at home if they misbehave in school.

The telephone poll, conducted Dec. 9-11, has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent, with a confidence level of 95 percent. This means there is a 95 percent probability the results are within 5 percent of the responses that would be given if everyone were asked the questions.

Syndicated parenting columnist, Dr. John Rosemond, said that he has no problem with parents spanking children, as long as it is two or three swats with the hand on the child's bottom.

But parents alone, not teachers or anyone else, should spank, Rosemond said.

"Spanking is an intimate event. It requires, in order for it to be effective, an intimate relationship," he said.

People often tell him stories of being taken to the woodshed as children for some infraction, always following it with, "and I never did that again," Rosemond said.

They wouldn't have done it again with a less severe spanking, either, Rosemond advised. "It wasn't the spanking, it was your father's disapproval that did it."

Spankings are not effective when they're too harsh and too frequent, he said. "In order for spanking to be of real benefit, it's got be a relatively infrequent experience."

Rosemond also emphasized the attention-focusing power of a swat and said the spanking itself is not what corrects a child's behavior.

"What's corrective is the punishment applied after the spanking: You're spanked and then you're sent to your room, you're spanked and then your bike is taken away for a week."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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