A school district in southwestern Missouri has decided to reinstate spanking as a discipline for students, even though many public health experts have warned that spanking is harmful to students.
The Cassville school district resumed classes on Tuesday for the first time since the school board approved in June to bring corporal punishment back to a district of 1,900 students about 60 miles (100 kilometers) southwest of Springfield. . The school district he abolished this practice in 2001.
The policy states that corporal punishment should only be used when other forms of disciplinary action, such as suspension, have failed, and only with the permission of the Superintendent.
Superintendent Merlin Johnson told the Springfield News-Leader that the decision was made after an anonymous survey found that parents, students and school staff were concerned about student behavior and discipline. .
“There are people who actually appreciate it,” he said. “Surprisingly, people on social media would probably be appalled to hear us say these things, but the majority of people I encountered were supportive.”
Parent Christina Harkey told the Associated Press on Friday that she’s on the fence about Casville’s policies. I didn’t opt in because it would fight back. But she said the corporal punishment worked for her when she was a “troublemaker” during her school days in California.
“We have different types of kids,” Harkey said. “Some people need a good butt spanking, and I was one of them.”
Morgan Craven, National Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Community Engagement at the Association for Intercultural Development Studies, a national nonprofit on educational equality, describes corporal punishment as “a highly inappropriate and ineffective practice.” called.
The US Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that corporal punishment was constitutional, leaving states to set their own policies. According to Craven, 19 states, mostly in the South, have laws allowing their use in schools. According to his latest data from 2017 to 2018, about 70,000 children in the US were attacked at least once at school.
Students who are beaten in school do less academically than their peers and suffer physical and psychological trauma, Craven said. In some cases, the child is badly injured and needs medical attention.
“When a child goes to school and can be slapped for the slightest infraction, it certainly creates a truly hostile, unpredictable and violent environment,” Craven said. That’s not what we want for kids in school.”
But Tess Walters, 54, the guardian of her eight-year-old granddaughter, had no qualms about signing the corporal punishment opt-in form. She said the possibility of her spanking being spanked would be a deterrent for her granddaughter with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
“I read some people’s reactions on Facebook recently and they were like, ‘Oh this is abuse. Just threaten with violence.’ And I was like, ‘What? It’s not a beating.” People are just going crazy and being silly,” Walters said.
Corporal punishment does not reduce inappropriate behavior, it increases aggression, anger and hostility, which can lead to depression and self-esteem problems, says Mitch Prinstein, chief scientific officer of the American Psychological Association. Decades of research show that.
Prinstein mentioned better ways to eliminate unwanted behavior, including problem-solving training. Reward positive behavior, such as extra rest. Pay special attention in the classroom.
“Parents are experts in what works for their child,” said Prinstein. “But it is important that parents are educated on the very substantial scientific literature that once again proves that corporal punishment is not a consistent and effective way to change unwanted behavior.”
Sarah Font, Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Pennsylvania State University, co-authored a 2016 study on the subject. Her research found that districts that used corporal punishment were generally located in poor, Republican-leaning rural areas in Southern states. Font said black children are disproportionately exposed to it.
This disparity irritates Ellen Reddy of the Norrie Jenkins Family Center, who advocates for issues such as corporal punishment and special education.
“Look at the history of violence against black and brown bodies,” said Reddy, who described herself as a black mother, son and grandson. , violence against our children, against our families, against our parents, so when can we stop such violence?”
Elizabeth Gershoff, a professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, said students with physical disabilities were also more likely to experience corporal punishment. The state has banned the use of these students, she said.
She noted that the number of cases of corporal punishment has declined steadily since the federal government began tracking it in the late 1970s, and that corporal punishment as a whole has declined.
“Most schools are starting to realize that ‘you can discipline kids and guide their behavior without hitting them,'” said Gershoff, who wrote the 2016 study for Font. said.
Mindy Arthurton, a spokeswoman for the Cassville School District, was out of the office on Friday and suggested the woman who answered the phone in her office read the policy. said. “At this time, we will focus on educating our students,” she added, then hung up on her.
The policy states that a witness from a district located in a county that is approximately 93% white must be present and that discipline is not used in front of other students.
“When it becomes necessary to use corporal punishment, it must be managed so that there is no possibility of physical injury or harm,” the policy said. “It is not allowed to hit a student on the head or face.”
In Missouri, regular efforts to ban corporal punishment in schools have failed to gain legislative support. According to a spokeswoman for her K-12 education department in Missouri, the state does not track districts that allow spanking.
Connecticut Democrat Senator Christopher Murphy is calling for a ban on the use of corporal punishment in federally funded schools. He calls it a “barbaric practice” that allows teachers and administrators to physically abuse students.