When adults hit kids at school
The video of the now fired teacher beating up a 13-year-old in a Houston classroom is making the Internet rounds in all of its obvious ugliness. And, it turns out, there was an arrest warrant out for the teacher on a "criminal mischief" charge; she is accused of slashing four tires on a woman's car with a knife.
This case is, obviously, egregious, and raises all kinds of issues, including why school system officials didn't know why the police was looking for one of its teachers. It also begs the question of whether the woman had displayed anger management problems earlier that may have gone ignored.
The video, shot by a student, shows them clearly, as she backs up the boy in a corner and then beats and kicks him. Nobody, of course could countenance this kind of behavior.
But it still remains true that there is legal cover for paddling kids in schools. In 20 states corporal punishment is allowed in school districts that choose to use it as a disciplinary measure, and some of the beatings are so severe that kids require medical treatment.
For those who don’t find the practice abhorrent on its face, you should know that it has been shown by research to be ineffective.
Here's what a congressional committee recently heard during a hearing on the subject of corporal punishment :
*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.
*Sometimes paddlings occur in an office; other times it will be a more public setting, in full view of the student’s classmates.
*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% 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. 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 in Texas, one school district, Temple, that had banned corporal punishment recently brought back the practice.
*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-Caucasian hildren (versus middle-class and upper-class Caucasians).
*African American students comprise 17% of all public school students in the United States but are 36% of those who are victims of corporal punishment, more than twice the rate of white students.
And, according to a 2009 national survey report by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, students with disabilities are hit at a rate twice that of the general student population in the areas where it is allowed.
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, and each district that allows it has its own rules. You can see some here.
The American Academy of Pediatrics as well as other medical organizations oppose corporal punishment at home and in schools. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) is planning to introduce a bill in Congress to ban corporal punishment in all U.S. schools.
It’s way past time.
Follow my blog all day, every day by bookmarking washingtonpost.com/answersheet And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our new Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed Bookmark it!
| May 13, 2010; 12:38 PM ET
Categories: Health | Tags: corporal punishment, corporal punishment laws, paddling in school, teacher beating kid, video and teacher and hitting, when kids are paddled
Save & Share: Previous: When test scores no longer matter
Next: Did Texas school board abuse its power?
Posted by: shatteredreality | May 13, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sideswiththekids | May 13, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: aed3 | May 13, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: dibee | May 14, 2010 1:52 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: hokiematt10 | May 14, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: seanpeters70 | May 14, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: jthomas87 | May 14, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sideswiththekids | May 14, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jthomas87 | May 14, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sideswiththekids | May 14, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.