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Posted at 1:04 PM ET, 02/ 9/2011

When whacking kids at school is legal

By Valerie Strauss

Everyone is rightly horrified about the case of a first-grade teacher at a Silver Spring elementary school who was just charged with several counts of assault after being accused of choking and/or punching eight young students.

Adults assaulting students at school? That has to be wrong. Right? Wrong.

This case in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland serves as a good reminder about legal whacking, better known as corporal punishment, which is still allowed in 20 states and which is administered to hundreds of thousands of students a year.

Yes, that’s hundreds of thousands. And many thousands seek medical treatment afterward.

Corporal punishment is, according to the National Association of School Nurses, “the intentional infliction of physical pain as a method of changing behavior. It may include methods such as hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, pinching, shaking, use of various objects (paddles, belts, sticks, or others), or painful body postures.”

Supporters of corporal punishment say that it is an effective punishment for bad behavior, and that kids learn lessons from being hit. The nurses and principals and teachers associations -- and many studies on the subject -- say otherwise.

Says the nurses association: “Corporal punishment has a strong potential to adversely affect the students’ self-image and school achievement and to contribute to disruptive and violent behaviors. Students have been physically damaged by such punishment, requiring medical treatment for conditions including abrasions, muscle injuries, hematomas, whiplash, and nerve injuries. Social skills development after the use of corporal punishment may be severely altered, leading to aggressive behaviors. The use of corporal punishment also promotes the message that violence is an acceptable mode of behavior in our society.”

Last June, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) introduced in Congress the “Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act,” which would ban corporal punishment as a form of punishment or to modify undesirable behavior at all public and private schools with students that receive federal services.

Congress apparently had other things to do. The bill was sent to a committee but never made it any further in the legislative process.

School districts that allow corporal punishment have their own rules for how to administer it -- and they can be extremely specific. They can, for example, spell out exactly how many times a student can be hit in one sitting; the rules usually identify which part of the body can be struck (usually the buttocks but sometimes the hands, too).

For example, the policy in the Greenwood Public School District in Mississippi has these rules:

"Corporal punishment for use in this district is defined as punishing or correcting a student by striking the student on the buttocks with a paddle. Corporal punishment may be administered by either the principal or assistant principal; but in either case, another certified staff member must be a witness. Corporal punishment shall not exceed five (5) swats with a paddle. Corporal punishment may be administered only to punish and/or correct disruptive student conduct. Neither corporal punishment nor the promise of corporal punishment will be used to stimulate academic achievement or to punish academic lapses. Prior to the administering of corporal punishment, the principal or his/her designee shall advise the student of the particular misconduct of which he/she is accused. The student shall be given an opportunity to explain his or her version of the facts prior to the imposition of such corporal punishment. The student shall be informed beforehand of the specific misbehavior which results in the use of corporal punishment. Such punishment should not be administered in the presence of other students or in

Last year a congressional committee had a hearing about the issue. They learned:

* School officials, including teachers, administered corporal punishment to 223,190 school children across the nation during the 2006-07 school year (according to conservative government estimates, the latest year for which national statistics were available).

* As a result of that punishment, 10,000 to 20,000 students requested medical treatment.

* Students are typically hit on their buttocks with a wooden paddle, approximately 15 inches long, between two- and four-inches wide, and one-half inch thick, with a six-inch handle at one end.

* Most students are paddled for minor infractions, violating a dress code, being late for school, talking in class or in the hallway, or being “disrespectful.”

* Almost 40 percent of all the cases of corporal punishment occur in districts in Texas (though not Houston) and Mississippi. Those states, along with Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia, account for almost three-quarters of all the children receiving corporal punishment. In Mississippi alone, there were 57,953 cases of corporal punishment in 110 of the state’s 152 school districts during the 2008-09 school year, according to the state Department of Education. That was a drop from the 58,343 cases reported a year earlier, but more than the 47,727 cases reported in 2006-07.

* Current studies indicate that physical punishment is more common in kindergarten through eighth grade (versus high school), in rural schools (versus urban), in boys (versus girls), and in disadvantaged as well as non-white children (versus middle-class and upper-class whites).

* African American students comprise 17 percent of all public school students in the United States but are 36 percent of those who are victims of corporal punishment, more than twice the rate of white students.

Now that's something to get upset about.

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By Valerie Strauss  | February 9, 2011; 1:04 PM ET
Categories:  Discipline  | Tags:  corporal punishment, corporal punishment in schools, discipline in schools, states that allow corporal punishment, teacher arrested, teacher charged with hitting students, teachers hitting students  
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Some of the statistics could use a little perspective. Since Texas has one of the largest populations in the country, and since not all states (including presumably heavily populated California and New York), it stands to reason that they're going to have a heavily disproportionate number of cases of corporal punishment.

Of course boys are going to be subjected to corporal punishment more than girls. If they're responsible for most of the discipline problems (and in my experience, we were), they're going to get more of everything from detentions to paddling.

If I'm correct in assuming that corporal punishment is primarily used in the southern US, where the black population is proportionately higher than the rest of the US, then it also is reasonable that black kids would get paddled disproportionately. If they're getting paddled disproportionately to their representation in the schools that actually use corporal punishment, maybe there's a problem - you'd still have to control for potentially different rates of problem behavior. Same with disadvantaged kids.

What does "request medical treatment" mean? Does that include kids who go sit in the school nurse's office while they cry it out? You mention a couple of cases above that sound extreme, but I'm assuming they don't represent a significant fraction of the total.

I don't remember anyone getting paddled for any reason (at school, anyway), but it was definitely an option - I remember it being discussed at the beginning of each year when they passed out the student handbooks. Certainly I never heard of it happening over a dress code violation. This was Central Florida in the 90s, by the way. Being disrespectful is not necessarily a minor violation.

Posted by: tomsing | February 9, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Using corporal punishment on 1st graders means you've lost control of the class. It is not a normal way to proceed.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 9, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

If you tape shut the mouths of 3rd graders in inner-city Baltimore does it make an outcry?

Posted by: malcolmxmlk | February 9, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Kids learn by watching and imitating.

Teachers are taught to "model" correct behavior.

Posted by: tfteacher | February 9, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Does Maryland, Virginia or DC allow any kind of corporal punishment?

Posted by: me21 | February 9, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Hitting school children is not legal in Virginian, Maryland nor DC. It has been banned in all New England States, all west coast states, and most northern states. It is most alive in the states of the South. A previous commenter was incorrect in stating that Texas looks bad in the stats only because of that state's larger population. Texas educators hit a very high percentage of their students, not just a high number. The U.S. is now the only developed country in the world that has not banned this barbaric model of violence. And children have been severely injured by teachers, a few even killed during use of corporal punishment. It is long past time to end this outmoded and ineffectual, and yes, harmful, practice of the past.

Posted by: rfathman | February 9, 2011 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it amazing that school children can still be hit with boards multiple times in twenty states, sometimes without informing parents and sometimes when parents have specifically asked that their children not be hit?

More than l00 countries have banned corporal punishment of school children. See Several of them have education rankings well above the US.
It's time that we joined those countries in recognizing that children have the right to be free from physical harm in schools!

Posted by: nadineblock1 | February 9, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I saw corporal punishment used twice in a charter school. But since its a charter school I guess its alright. After all, charters are better than regular public schools - or so says Arne Duncan. By the way, it was at a charter school opened under Duncan where I witnessed the corporal punishment.

Posted by: jlp19 | February 9, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Ok, rfathman, let's use actual numbers. Texas has 20% of the population of the states that currently allow corporal punishment. It's reasonable to assume that their student population is approximately proportionate. Mississippi comes in at about 2%; not sure why they get lumped in with Texas in terms of total number of kids getting paddled, unless they are paddling SIGNIFICANTLY more frequently than Texas per capita. Anyway, let's assume that Texas accounts for the bulk of the 40% of all paddlings. Then they're paddling at about twice the average rate (they're also bringing the average rate up some, which works a bit in their favor). If school districts in other corporal punishment states have policies against paddling, that skews the numbers against Texas. Consider, for example, that all schools in Texas use corporal punishment, only one school in Kentucky uses it, and no other schools use it. If all schools in Texas and the one school in Kentucky paddle for 0.1% of offenses, then Texas is going to account for nearly 100% of all paddlings, even though they're clearly in line with paddling standards elsewhere among the other schools.

All that is to say, where's the data that Texas is dramatically overusing corporal punishment? (Aside from the argument that any use is overuse, which I realize you probably espouse.)

As for other developed countries which allow corporal punishment, Singapore and South Korea both allow it. There might be others, I'm not going to scroll through the whole list. But I don't think you can argue that they're not developed countries.

As a kid, I was spanked. I don't think it was barbaric at all, and it was apparently effective. Is the fact that it's not performed by a parent what makes it barbaric in a school, or is it always a problem?

Posted by: tomsing | February 9, 2011 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Texas Rep. Alma Allen has proposed legislation HB 916 which will Abolish Corporal/Physical Pain as Punishment of children in Texas schools. The U.S. Department of Education reports over 220,000 students are physically punished in U.S. schools annually, several students are injured and seek emergency medical treatment. Texas leads the nation in the number of students subjected to physical punishment annually, Prohibited by Federal Law in Prisons. Search "A Violent Education" for more information. School paddling is NOT discipline. It is child abuse! Grown men hitting school children with boards is wrong and has been abolished in schools in 30 U.S. states. Please urge Texas Representatives and Governor Perry to enact HB 916. Also, please Deamnd U.S. Congress Enact H.R. 5628 "Ending Corporal/Physical PAIN as Punishment of Children in U.S. Schools Act".

Posted by: gworley1 | February 9, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

When I taught in Houston, enrollment cards had a box for parents to check indicating whether they would permit their children to receive corporal punishment. Very few checked the box, but most who did were black. I occasionally had black parents tell me to feel free to paddle their kids if I thought they needed it. (By the way, I'm white.) It was moot anyway because the schools where I taught there had a general policy of no paddling.

I cannot imagine ever striking a child, especially someone else's child.

Posted by: aed3 | February 9, 2011 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I received 1 swat in front of my gym class in the 7th Grade because I forgot to bring clean gym clothes one Monday morning. It only happened once and I have never struck anyone in my life.

I am haunted by the Florida mother who recently shot her two "mouthy" children in the head. In the accounts I am reading it appears the mother and daughter were under the supervision of child services.

I am a teacher with DCPS and I am verbally assaulted on a daily basis by my 4th Grade Students. My students are fully aware, and remind me on a daily basis, I can't touch them. They are willful, disrespectful, and lazy. Oops! I forgot. It's always the teachers fault.


Posted by: mrpozzi | February 9, 2011 7:47 PM | Report abuse

The regionalism remaining in this country is illustrated well by debates over corporal punishment. I grew up in Texas & New Jersey. The latter is, I think, the 1st state to prohibit corporal punishment by statute. And, well, Texas is still Texas.

Ironically, I so annoyed a middle school teacher in NJ he did corporally punish me in front of the class. In Texas, in HS, I got my fair share of licks, as we called the paddling, and don't remember ever not deserving it or receiving paddling outside policy limits. Nonetheless, I did not have permitted any school personnel to paddle my own kids here.

Having studied school law for decades, I can say that corporal punishment does occur in excess and the cases - the outliers and wretched episodes - can occur only if the practice is tolerated. And the bad cases can be horrific and have lingering effects in a school, district or community.

Unless there is some reason such a risky and litigation-attracting behavior is necessary, I cannot imagine why a district would permit it. BTW, in Texas, schools are immune from negligence except in a few events - one is negligent application of corporal punishment.

Why would a district be stupid enough to invite liability when so many other options exist? I think it's because in some communities there is an intractable, widespread belief that the rod is "necessary."

As I wrote, this practice demonstrates that we have not fully homogenized as a nation!!

Posted by: dsacken | February 9, 2011 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Let me relate my ordeal from 3 decades ago. I grew up on the island of Jamaica during a time when corporal punishment at school was merely just another facet of daily life for children from ages 6 to 12. I entered Grade 5 in September 1979 when I was 10 years old and I had a strict 34 year-old class teacher named Ms. Cheryl Lawson. She kept her cane of discipline on a ledge above the blackboard. One Wednesday during the last week of September 1079 she set some Math homweork to be turned in the followong morning. I forgot to do the homework and received six strokes of the cane on the palms of my hands on the Thursday afternoon. The pain was excruciating. Another day I got five strokes of the cane on my hands for talking in class. As December approached there were several more infractions for which I was caned. During the Christmas break of 1979 I overindulged heavily in food and returned to school in January looking like a young Sumo wrestler. I continued overeating after my 11th birthday and by April I had gotten an extremely HUGE, BIG belly. I now had an enormous sack of flab hanging two feet over the front of my pants. My shirts could not cover my belly which I had to leave exposed as I went to school. One day in April I was caught cheating in a Math test. Ms. Lawson called me up and gave me six cane strokes on my belly. Anoher day I received six trokes of the cane in my belly and five on the hands for excessive talking. On yet another day I had misspelled a word and Ms. Lawson called me up, stuck the tip of the cane in my navel and ordered me to spell the word correctly. Ms. Lawson was generally pleased when we performed well on our academics (straight A's). But if we turned in incomplete homework or erred otherwise the cane would be flayed violently in the classroom leaving the girls crying and painful welts and bruises on our skin. These welts would turn into scars and by the end of the Smmer term of 1980 I had a lot of thick black scars on the front of my belly. I went on to succeed in high school and university and eventually received my PhD in pharmacology by my 25th birthday in 1994.

Whenever I hearken back to my primary school experience I remember the painful canings and am glad that I endured them
I am completely against striking a child, especially someone else's child, and I often ponder if Ms. Lawson feels any remorse for her style of disciplining of 30 years ago.

Posted by: Winstonp1 | February 10, 2011 4:13 AM | Report abuse

Congress ought to have other things to do. It's hard to see how the Constitution gives Congress the authority to ban corporal punishment in state school systems (whether it's good or bad is immaterial); it's hard to see how the Constitution gives Congress the authority to give states anything that can then be used as leverage to ban corporate punishment in state school systems.

But they always find a way.

Posted by: asdf2 | February 10, 2011 6:24 AM | Report abuse

I hope none of you who say that you were spanked/paddled and you turned out all right in defense of spanking and paddling in general are not scientists or philosophers. Or at least not currently employed in those fields anyway. Maybe this kind of thinking is why American students compare so poorly with students from other countries. The stupidity is thick.

Posted by: thesilverback | February 10, 2011 7:31 AM | Report abuse

This article was very one sided. Ms. Valerie Strauss did not independently report on this subject. The last full paragraph in her article fully demonstrates her bias towards corporal punishment.

"* African American students ...of those who are victims of corporal punishment....

Now that's something to get upset about."

She assumes that everyone is onboard with her view that corporal punishment is abusive and thus has a victim.

Posted by: reactorcontrol | February 10, 2011 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget that teaching used to be the job of a single woman, but when the Plains were being settled, a man would sometimes be hired because the school needed someone big enough to "whip" the older boys when they began to make trouble. Do we want to go back to this?

(I knew of one teacher who gave each first-grader one whack for each spelling word missed on the Friday test. The practice ended when several alert parents wondered why their youngsters threw up every Friday morning before leaving for school. The school policy did not forbid it until then simply because it had never occurred to officials any teacher would do such a thing.)

Posted by: sideswiththekids | February 10, 2011 8:23 AM | Report abuse

tfteacher wrote:

Kids learn by watching and imitating.

Teachers are taught to "model" correct behavior.
This is everything that needs to be said.

Posted by: carlaclaws | February 10, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Regarding spanking in general, I'm not merely saying I turned out all right. I'm saying I turned out better for it. Discipline among kids - and adults - seems to have gotten progressively worse, and I think a significant part of that is related to parents relatively recent reluctance to spank their kids. Correlation is not causation, and it's all anecdotal, and not all kids will respond in the same way, but it seems like a valid conclusion to me.

Winstonp, it certainly sounds like you were the victim of abuse, and I don't support parents, much less teachers, doing permanent damage, nor do I support punishment for missing a question. Both of those are way over the line.

Posted by: tomsing | February 10, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse

My daughter was a student of the the teacher (Ms.Burke) that is being charged...all though my daughter wasnt one of the kids that was being hit,she witnessed it and she is now very upset for not only what was going on with her friends and other classmates but for Ms.Burke because she said "Ms.Burke was a nice teacher but all of a sudden she just changed,she got mean". That tells me that she is not a bad person,she just had some issues going on in her personal life,not to excuse what she has done,you should never put your hands on someone elses kids..I really dont think she ment to hurt any of those kids..teachers have a hard job,not only do they teach our kids but they have to put up with kids that have behavior problems. My daughter said out of 16 kids in her class,half of them dont do what the teacher ask them to do...

Posted by: mom39 | February 10, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Strauss--The link in your first sentence erroneously directs the reader to a Dec 30 article about a Mont. Co. teacher arrested for heroin possession, not the article about the teacher charged with assault.

Posted by: 1950snoopy | February 10, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Corporal punishment, when used correctly, works. To be correctly used, it must be swift, i.e. immediate. It must be proportionate to the infraction; only used where the infraction could result in injury or death. It must be consistent, like all forms of discipline. It should not cause bruises or worse injury. And it must not be overused.

Playing with matches, running out into the street without looking, throwing steak knives at each other, indiscriminately mixing household cleaners for the fun of it all count as instances where corporal punishment would be appropriate.

My only recommendation is that the person applying the punishment should never use an object; only the flat of their hand. Striking a child with a paddle, spoon, switch, bullwhip is assault with a weapon. With your hand, you have direct feedback on how hard you are hitting the child. With a weapon, you don't have that.

And with all modes of discipline, you need to pay attention to what works with which children. One size does not fit all.

Posted by: mhoust | February 10, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Let's only put adults in our classrooms who can handle children without resorting to violence. The majority of teachers never feel the need to discipline via violence even though children talk back to them or don't follow their directions immediately. There is no justification for violence against children.

It reminds me of the nursing aide that my colleague had fired from her job. The aide felt it was necessary to smack, slap, and verbally berate her elderly patients when they refused to take their medication. She felt that hitting them would make them behave. Teachers who violate children are no different. It's taking advantage of the weak and defenseless. If you don't have the patience and attitude to deal with our most vulnerable citizens, then please don't apply.

Posted by: 12345leavemealone | February 10, 2011 11:06 AM | Report abuse

"... Maybe this kind of thinking is why American students compare so poorly with students from other countries. The stupidity is thick."

Posted by: thesilverback
The arrogance in your statements seems thicker. The ignorance is in those who can't separate punishment (corporal or not) from abuse/assault.

Posted by: shhhhh | February 10, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

"Kids learn by watching and imitating.

Teachers are taught to "model" correct behavior."

Thank you tfteacher, you make a great point. But even the best educators who demonstrate the best possible behavior still have to deal with bad parenting and thus undisciplined and out of control students.

Where does the bad behavior start? At home; as the parent(s) demonstrates poor behavior, or allows it, the child emulates that and becomes a problem for the educators that are responsible for many more students in the same classroom.

I agree that corporal punishment should not be an instrument for correcting behavior but what are educators left with when their hands are tied because they cannot mete out any form of discipline without fear of reprisal from lazy ignorant parents and administrators that only look to save face with the public?

There are no teeth in school policies that are supposed to assist educators in dealing with behavior problems in students. Parents don't have the wherewithal to deal with their own children so they pawn them off on the schools and expect behavior modifications to happen; and when they don't they are indignant and often threaten litigation or cause unnecessary grief for the administrators that tend to bow to this perceived authority parents weild in our schools.

The result is classes continue to be disrupted because a teacher has no means to maintain order in the classroom. Students have no fear or respect primarily because the parents of the past two generations are misguided, lazy and ignorant. They teach their children that there is nothing wrong with an instant gratification, entitlement attitude.

Instead of waxing philosophic about the ethics of corporal punishment in schools how about we address the real problem - a complete breakdown of parental responsibility and their obligation to teach proper behavior to their children BEFORE they get into school.

Why are we always looking for a political or legislative solution to a cultural and social problem?

Posted by: quantheist | February 10, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

mhoust- Yes, corporal punishment works with some children. Parents often use corporal punishment and their children understand what it means. Parents let teachers know that they want the teachers to do what works. The teacher and principal decide together and explain to the student. They shake hands and usually the principal gives a quick whack or two.They shake hands and the student returns to class.His fellow students do not know what happened unless he tells them. It is quick, and to the point."Hard head makes a soft behind."

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | February 10, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"Now that's something to get upset about"??? becasue African American students are paddled more then others! duh!! what world do you live in? have you ever seen the behavior and inner city "kids". i'd paddle them too!

Posted by: submarinerssn774 | February 10, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

People may always disagree on the issue of corporal punishment. Their position isn't based on numbers/statistics.

But the statistics in this article are misleading. 21% of the corporal punishments in the 2006/7 school year happened in Mississippi (47,727 out of 223,190) and about another 20% in Texas ("Almost 40 percent of all the cases of corporal punishment occur in districts in Texas (though not Houston) and Mississippi. Those states, along with Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia, account for almost three-quarters of all the children receiving corporal punishment").

If the point of the article is that corporal punishment is given disproportionately to certain students (no whether it should be given at all), the racial/economic breakdown of students that are punished should be compared to the demographics of THOSE STATES, or those 20 that allow corporal punishment, not the demographics of the entire US.

Posted by: dvervena | February 10, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

When a man can go to prison for this kind of offense to a woman in basically ANY state, this state's decided to further the harassment of men by allowing women teachers to beat and strangle little boys.

you're a pathetic bunch.

I suggest the next time a little boy gets "corporally punished" he finish her off, completely.

That's MY advocacy in these overly-f'ed-up times.

Kill anyone that touches you, fellows. That's all there is left now, boys. The courts will not defend you, eve if you're right, and it's just because you're a boy.

Posted by: pgibson1 | February 10, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

quantheist- You make excellent points. Most of the issues you address have to do with a near complete breakdown of marriage and home. In the city I sit in, Oakland, CA, some 60% of children are born out of wedlock. The schools are in shambles, discipline is out the window. Virtually all agree a married 2 parent family represents the ideal environment for raising a child. In spite of this many good parents currently feel their school districts are doing all they can to undermine parental authority and to be politically sensitive they no longer portray marriage as an ideal (Because a lot of their kids do not come from this environment). We have literally created a situation where the best parents and the schools who teach their children have become enemies in each other's eyes. The only people who can truly overcome this are the teachers themselves. I am a higher education administrator, so I cannot speak from experience, but I do not envy teacher's their task in this environment that we have created, especially the one our politicians and unions have created.

I digressed from the issue at hand. In general I believe that very limited use of corporal punishment in the home... only in response to clear defiance and lying and only as the very last resort, is a necessary part of a good parent's toolbox. Parents who have anger problems or family history of abuse should never use it. It honestly has no place in the schools, who cannot possibly gauge its effectiveness on an individual child.

Posted by: revrok | February 10, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I cannot believe that corporal punishment is still being used acceptably in schools. It is NEVER okay to hit a child. What do they learn? not to do "it" again? Sure and then when their kids or coworkers, or spouse or employees do "it" or something else "wrong", they'll know to hit them to stop them from doing that. F-ing brilliant.

Posted by: hebe1 | February 10, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

The main thing a student learns from corporal punishment is that he has no rights as a human being. If it is illegal in the workplace, it shouldn't be legal in the schools. If a principal who hit a teacher would be arrested, a teacher--or the same principal--who hits a student should be arrested. If the police can't come in and do a drug sweep of the teachers' cars, they shouldn't be able to do a drug sweep of the students' cars.

There are plenty of students who confine stealing, bullying, etc., to the school grounds and their classmates, knowing very well they will get arrested for the same behavior on the streets or in a store. No wonder--they've learned the laws don't apply on school grounds.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | February 10, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Back when I was a child attending school in Maryland, corporal punishment was allowed or just winked at by school administrators. Most teachers didn't hit students, but my third grade teacher was a very brutal exception to this. She would assault students on a daily basis. I used the word "assault" because that's exactly what it was. One day, she kicked the legs out from under the chair of a fellow student, causing him to fall backwards and strike is head forcefully on the desk behind him. He suffered a concussion and needed ten stitches in his scalp. The principal warned the rest of us to behave. We took that to mean that we could be next.

She got her comeuppance when the mother of two students she had viciously humiliated came to the school the next day and beat her to a bloody pulp in front of the entire class. The irate mom pounded Mrs. Nasty's face until it looked like raw meat. She bled nearly as much as Robbie, on whom she had inflicted head trauma. In that case, corporal punishment definitely worked. When Mrs. Nasty returned to class the next week, she was far better behaved, never hit another student and ceased her verbal abuse. Needless to say, the entire class cheered her beating.

Posted by: xenophile | February 10, 2011 4:53 PM | Report abuse

xenophile:Thank you for that story!! That's exactly what should be done to those who abuse their power and beat children.
Honestly, you people supporting corporal punishment in schools need to crawl back under your rock and not admit to supporting this.
I can understand how some absolutely spoiled rotten rich bratty boys could benefit, but for the rest of the population it is NOT good and there are ALWAYS better ways.
Disgusted by all of you.

Posted by: hebe1 | February 10, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Children and adults as groups have different behaviors, motivations, and cognition. Same with younger children versus older children. They need different incentives and corrections. If you see a toddler about to touch a hot stove, swatting them on the hand and telling them no is simply more effective than cutting out TV or discussing their behavior.

We don't spank adults because we expect to be able to reason with them, and we have prisons, fines, etc as tools to correct behavior when that fails.

Adults abusing children is horrible. Adults who kick chairs out from under children are committing abuse. Parents and school officials who swat you on the rear end with a paddle with a reasonable amount of force, who do so out of a legitimate desire to correct behavior and not out of anger, and who do so reasonably infrequently are not out of line, in my opinion.

Note that the way I've always understood it to be done (stories of Catholic school nuns excepted) is that a school administrator, unconnected to the incident, administers the punishment. That helps maintain the emotional distance necessary to ensure that the child is not being hit in anger.

And hebe1, if you believe that spanking a child teaches them that violence solves problems, how can you cheer a parent beating up a teacher (abusive or not) in front of a class?

Posted by: tomsing | February 10, 2011 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I am completely opposed to physical punishment in schools however there is a larger issue at work here. I'm not sure most people are aware of the massive frustration felt by most teachers in the classroom now. Children come totally unready to learn. They behave any way they wish and disrupt those student who are trying to learn. This does not in ANY way make getting physical with a child acceptable but if we would deal with other ways to gain control in our classrooms, this type of discipline would be greatly reduced. Parents have go to be made to be responsible for their own children. I am a teacher , a parent of 2 children and involved in my local PTA and I can tell you that this is reaching a boiling point. We need to come up with some real answers.

Posted by: nflfan10 | February 10, 2011 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Any teacher that has to hit a kid to manage them is not fit to be a teacher, less alone a parent.

Posted by: areyousaying | February 10, 2011 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Here we go . . . . "Back in my day", the 40's, one teacher would spank our palm with a ruler if our behavior warranted (more embarrassing than hurtful), others had us stand in a corner, or at the front of the class, or just outside the classroom door. Really bad behavior? We were sent to the Principal who spanked us with a paddle. Then . . .when our parents found out, we got another at home.

Much later, in Houston, where my wife taught earth sciences and marine biology to high school students, behavior was more or less out of control. A big senior gal held my wife with the pointed end of a ball point pen at her throat while some fellow students (of one ethnic group) laughed and cheered her on (the student had a bad record and had already been expelled for fighting in the halls).
Punishment. . 3 days out of school.

Then a senior dropped a used condom in the female principal's hand as she handed him his diploma on stage. Big Current Level “Harmless?” Joke? She closed the graduation ceremony and the offending student was allowed to pass diplomas out … outside the school the next day (over her objection to the school board of lay types). Man oh man, if that lady Principal had been MY wife! - - - as a crude Texan, I would have looked up that student’s Dad and invited both outside for a vigorous discussion, physically vigorous.

Ah well, as Aristotle said, “The younger generation is going to the dogs”. The condom episode WAS rather tame compared to current TV sit-coms and several other rather cruel TV shows.

Posted by: lufrank1 | February 10, 2011 9:48 PM | Report abuse

As long as we can use corporal punishment on the teachers and administrators when they screw up, I'm all for it. For some reason I doubt they would agree to that.

Posted by: veritasinmedium | February 10, 2011 9:49 PM | Report abuse

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