Teachers hitting kids? Yes
By Valerie Strauss
Washington Post, February 14, 2011
|Most people are rightly horrified about the case of a first-grade teacher at a Silver Spring elementary school who was recently 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.
The case in Montgomery County public schools serves as a good reminder that legal whacking, better known as corporal punishment, is still allowed in 20 states and administered to hundreds of thousands of students a year.
Yes, 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. Nurses, principals and teachers associations – and many studies on the subject – say otherwise.
In June, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) introduced the Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act, which would ban corporal punishment as a form of punishment or way 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 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 at one time; the rules usually identify which part of the body can be struck (usually the buttocks, but sometimes the hands, too).
Last year a congressional committee had a hearing on the issue. The panel learned that:
Now that’s something to get upset about.