‘Safe Students Act’ doesn’t keep kids safe: Paddling still allowed
In Mississippi, there were 57,953 cases of corporal punishment in 110 of the state’s 152 school districts during te 2008-09 school year, according to the state Department of Education. There’s good news and bad news about that: It was a drop from the 58,343 cases reported a year earlier--but more than the 47,727 cases reported in 2006-07.
And consider this:
The Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that it is legal for schools to spank or paddle kids for discipline in areas where it is not outlawed by local authorities. While Ohio banned it last year, and Pennsylvania did in 2005, there are still 20 states that permit corporal punishment in schools. They are mostly in poor areas of the southeastern United States, and hundreds of thousands of students are paddled every year.
In some cases, kids are badly hurt, and lawsuits are filed.
One case that went to the Supreme Court in 2008 told the story of an 18-year-old high school senior in Texas who alleged that she was paddled for leaving her charter school to buy breakfast. She said that she asked to withdraw from school when she was told she would be paddled, but that was not allowed. She was then restrained while an adult began to paddle her. She managed to free a hand, which was hit by the paddle.
Court papers said she went to a hospital for treatment of a swollen hand and bleeding buttocks. The school said, in court papers, that her injuries were “minor and temporary” and her hand would not have been hurt if she hadn’t tried to free it.
Why am I writing this now?
This bill sets minimum federal standards against the use of seclusion and restraints in public and private schools, a reaction to a U.S. government investigation that last year found hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and death of children who were subjected to these tactics over the previous two decades.
Believe it or not, Republican opponents argued that states' rights were being trampled, and 153 legislators voted against it.
But the bill does not outlaw corporal punishment. Somehow, states still have the right to make the decision.
Until Congress forces states to stop this practice, kids will still be subjected to beatings in many schools in this country. That’s not just bad policy, that’s sick.
You can learn about efforts to end corporal punishment here.
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| March 5, 2010; 12:18 PM ET
Categories: Bullying | Tags: corporal punishment, keeping kids safe
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