Science is clear: It’s time to end corporal punishment in our schools

child abuse crying

I was quite surprised to see earlier this week that Georgia has re-instituted corporal punishment in the school system.

Whew! I thought that was disturbing. More disturbing was when Alabama Today looked into it and found that Alabama law allows corporal punishment in schools and most districts have allowed it.

There are several things wrong schools implementing corporal punishment, so I’ll just hit the top three.

1) Corporal punishment doesn’t work. There are few things that have been studied as much in early childhood development as the use of spanking and corporal punishment, and not a single study has found that it does anything except erode the trust between children and adults, and exacerbate the problems versus address the underlying issues of the behavior.

Don’t believe me here’s a few places to look:

2) The idea that if you spare the rode, spoil the kid is sincerely outdated. There are ways in which you can raise a healthy, happy, disciplined, un-wild child without ever spanking them. This has been proven using methods of positive reinforcement. So we don’t just get rid of spanking and allow children to run buck wild, we hold them accountable for their actions at young ages. We hold their parents accountable for helping them evolve emotionally and developmentally into young people that understand actions have consequences and that their behavior matters. We need to focus on the positive aspects and ways we can have children develop self-discipline and respect. There are school programs around the country that are working effectively to address children’s developmental needs. Some are having incredible results.

3) School administrators should not be expected to be parents. We have to re-assess the idea that ‘where we are failing at home, that teachers and administrators of a school should step in.’ And that of course includes, taking major disciplinary actions against our children.

Prevent Child Abuse America set a resolution regarding the use of corporal punishment in schools. Their resolution covers these issues plus some.

Corporal punishment, such as spanking, has detrimental effects on the development of children. Prevent Child Abuse America has taken a position on this issue.

A Resolution on the Use of Corporal Punishment in Schools and Institutions

Whereas, age-appropriate discipline may be necessary in school and institutional settings, nonviolent means of discipline, such as giving time-outs, explaining rules, or taking away privileges, have been shown to be more effective than violent discipline.

Whereas, the use of physical punishment teaches children how to use physical violence to control others rather than peaceful means of solving problems.1

Whereas, 365,508 school children were subjected to corporal punishment during the 1997-1998 school year.2

Whereas, currently nearly 50 percent of all states (23) allow corporal punishment in schools.3

Whereas, the use of physical force against an adult is considered a crime of battery or assault.

Therefore, be it resolved, that Prevent Child Abuse America supports:

Banning, in every state, the use of corporal punishment against children in all schools and institutions.

Providing initial and ongoing training to all teachers and staff on alternative means of discipline.

Promoting positive and appropriate behavior in school by teaching children appropriate behavior and coping skills through effective and proven educational and school-based programs that award good behavior and encourage accountability and peer mediation.

A school should be a safe-haven for children to learn. It should be somewhere that they’re excited to go and look forward to going and seeing their friends, and learning and experiencing things. School should not just be a glorified daycare or a place for secondary parenting. We need to do better and expect more.We need to stop corporal punishment not just in our schools, but in our homes as well.