Corporal Punishment is Still Legal in Many States

Corporal Punishment is Still Legal in Many States
As amazing as it sounds, corporal punishment is still legal in over 20 states. Fortunately private schools banned the practice many decades ago.
Do you realize that there still are 21 states in which corporal punishment, i.e., spanking, of students is still allowed? Yes, corporal punishment is legal in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. No, I am not talking about the situation 30 years ago. This is 2012 and there are still 21 states in the richest nation in the world which allow a child to be spanked by an adult in a classroom.

Corporal punishment has no place in schools.
What does this have to do with boarding schools? Nothing in the direct sense. Fortunately I know of no boarding school anywhere in North America which permits hitting students. Period. But our boarding schools, indeed our private schools as a whole, are enlightened exemplars of all that is good in education. Our private school Codes of Discipline do not allow any form of physical abuse. For all kinds of good reasons. But most importantly our boarding schools understand what is required to create a better world, a world where children can mature into productive adults fully capable and confident of achieving whatever their dreams are.That's why I want to call your attention to the fact that this negative, abusive, bullying, way of shaping children's lives is still legal and used in 21 states in the United States of America in 2012.

When I was growing up in Montreal back in the 50s, we still had corporal punishment in the classroom. We followed the old Britsh model which back then permitted practices such as caning and strapping. Everything from getting your knuckles rapped with a ruler to being strapped with a very thick leather strap which was called the strap. I don't ever recall girls receiving any form of corporal punishment. But we boys most certainly did. A smart rap on the knuckles is something I remember to this day. It was administered to me by my third grade teacher. She had a reputation for being a very strict disciplinarian. And indeed she was. I honestly cannot recall why I got my knuckles rapped. The strap was generally administered by the vice-principal or principal. It was the last resort when it came to punishment. You could hear a pin drop when somebody was sent to the principal's office for a strapping.

Abuse damages fragile egos. It undermines confidence. It kills a child's spirit.

I do understand that the pendulum has swung rather dramatically the other way. "Spare the rod and spoil the child" which is a loose translation of Proverbs 13:24 has more than an element of truth in it, doesn't it? In any case most of us who are sending or have sent our children to private school understand that self-discipline is something we adults need to teach our children ourselves. The school can certainly help. But in the end it is our parental responsibility for making sure our children understand that there are real consequences for breaking the rules. Not physical punishments. But real consequences such as losing one's job, or being fined, or worse, facing jail time.

The fix?
What can you do to eliminate corporal punishment? Have discussions with your children about how to handle anger and negative feelings. Your school will be doing that as well within the context of countless lessons over the course of many years. Write your state legislators and let them know your feelings. You pay local property taxes, so you also have a right to inform your local school board how you feel too. Hopefully they have long since passed rules and regulations forbidding corporal punishment in their classrooms. They probably have done so because their insurance has demanded that the practice be forbidden. School boards have enough exposure to legal action over which they often have little control. They can and do forbid risky practices such as corporal punishment which they can control.

Finally please speak up when you hear others advocating the physical abuse of children. For that, in the final analysis, is what corporal punishment is. Review some of the resources given below. Much food for thought therein. Please join parents everywhere who believe that children should be brought up in safe, nurturing environments at home and at school.


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