Since discipline seems to be on a lot of people’s minds today, I am bringing up a regular topic of mine — the inexplicable attachment to corporal punishment by schools.
Memphis is considering lifting a 5-year-old ban on corporal punishment in its schools.
At a board meeting this week, Memphis City Schools Board Commissioner Dr. Kenneth T. Whalum Jr. introduced a resolution to restore corporal punishment. The Memphis board will discuss at a meeting next month.
There is already resistance. At DetentionSlip.org, an effort is under way to launch a boycott of Memphis if corporal punishment is reinstated. (Here is a link to a national effort to ban corporal punishment in all public schools through federal legislation.)
UPDATED: I decided to see how often corporal punishment is used in Georgia. One hundred of Georgia’s 191 systems used corporal punishment in the 2008-09 school year, according to reports that they submitted to the state Department of Education. In total, the districts reported using corporal punishment 28,529 times that year.
For instance, out of the 3,139 discipline actions reported by Randolph County, 1,588 took the form of corporal punishment. Johnson County reported 2,081 disciplinary actions, 1,149 of which were listed as corporal punishment.
When I interviewed the late Benjamin Spock on spanking years ago, he told me, “One of the things that shocked me is the high percentage of parents who not only spanked, but felt you couldn’t raise children properly without giving them spankings from time to time – something like a vitamin.”
For that same story, I interviewed a researcher who reviewed 6,000 juvenile delinquency cases to discern common factors in the kids’ lives. Contrary to the belief that kids go wrong because no one ever gave them swift kick in the rear, researcher Ralph S. Welsh told me, “They were all raised by the belt, cord or fist.”
I also interviewed John Rosemond. He disagreed with efforts to ban spanking, telling me that, “My children have been popped on the rear end and have not been crippled by the event. They are both healthy, non-violent people.”
My objection is not to parents spanking their kids – although I think there is good reason not to. do so. My objection is to schools using physical punishment.
It is wrong. It is an invitation to lawsuits. It teaches kids all the wrong things, including using force to make their points.
Why do I keep reading stories about school systems reconsidering it?