Should Public Schools Allow Corporal Punishment?

William Petitt, Staff Writer

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As long as I can remember, spankings have been the primary punishment for misbehavior in my household. However, when my mother first told me the story of Sister Dolores-her first and third grade teacher who spanked kids with a paddle in Catholic school- I was left dumbfounded. The question that raced through my probably seven or eight year old mind was- how was this allowed in school?

Throughout the history of schools around the world, corporal punishment has been used in many creative, and might I say, ludicrous ways to keep children in line. For example, a tawse (a leather strap with two or three strings attached) was used in Scotland throughout the 20th century to hit the hands of misbehaving kids. Despite its long and intricate history, corporal punishment is illegal in many nations and 31 states today.

Among the 19 states in which corporal punishment is legal is North Carolina, with all the rest of the southern states. There are more than a few outliers as well, such as Wyoming, Indiana and Colorado, or even Idaho(do they punish kids by throwing potatoes at them?!). The last state to illegalize corporal punishment was New Mexico in 2011. However, notwithstanding it being legal in North Carolina, it is subject to further jurisdiction by local law. In light of this, Guilford County Schools prohibits corporal punishment. The Student Discipline policy, approved March Ninth, 2004 states: “The district believes that a well disciplined school system can be maintained without the use of corporal punishment. Therefore, the district prohibits the use of corporal punishment by principals, assistant principals, teachers, substitute teachers, any other school system personnel, student teachers or volunteers.”

Personally, I think corporal punishment would be effective if used right in public schools. Moreover, it must be used effectively and to an extent. From my experience, and the experiences of those around me, nothing works to discipline a child as well as an old fashioned smack. However, I do not think it is effective if a teacher or administrator would discipline a child to the point of bruising. The point of corporal punishment is not to injure the child but to give them a strong reminder of the correct way to behave. Nonetheless, I do not believe corporal punishment should be the first reserve in disciplining a child. I think the only justification for using corporal punishment would be if a child has been previously warned and continues to disobey authority. Furthermore, corporal punishment would be extremely useful for children that constantly are out of line.

In my opinion, if children are taught morals and behavior from an early age with corporal punishment as an incentive to behave, it would therefore improve their behavior in higher levels of schooling. Collectively, that would make for a more well conducted high school with less discipline problems than we have today.

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The Official Student Publication of Page High School
Should Public Schools Allow Corporal Punishment?