Corporal punishment is on its way out Corporal punishment is on its way out
Peggy Dean's letter to the editor
The Enquirer-Journal, January 29, 2005

Dear Editor:

Corporal punishment is on its way out. Twenty eight states have banned its use in schools. To answer the writer of a recent letter to the editor who favors this practice, no, I do not trust this current school system in the existing discipline process. Poor choices are made daily, and when mistakes in judgment are made, this current administration is there to cover up the wrong doings of these individuals or the system. No child should be hit, have objects thrown at him, be shaken, shoved, or kicked by the adults entrusted to his or her care. Yet in a system that sees it as its duty to batter children, no wonder parents can’t be heard with other allegations of abuse in the classroom. It is a mindset that must be challenged and forever changed.

There are laws to protect our rights as human beings. Children are the least protected group on this earth. Even prisoners and animals are protected from being beaten with wooden boards. How can we trust our school administration to enforce rules fairly, and dole out punishment, when they themselves simply are not in compliance with state law? State law is crystal clear in General Statue 115-C-391, that if a school district uses corporal punishment, then it must put in writing the list of misconducts that can lead to this consequence. Our district is unable to define the methods that can be used, and does not tell our students what misbehaviors will lead to this. How can we place weapons in the hands of these individuals to hit our children for any reason deemed necessary, while the adults in this situation are in violation of State law? The word “discipline” means to teach, and the children are learning that adults do not have to abide by the same rules, and that hitting is a means to resolve conflict.

According to the most recent data that I can find, in an Office of Civil Rights survey, Union County reported more incidents of inflicting corporal punishment on disabled students than any other county in North Carolina or South Carolina. The children identified are children who fall into the IDEA category, or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. These children are defined as those who receive services for such conditions as “mental retardation, hearing impairments including deafness, speech or language impairments, visual impairments including blindness, emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities, deaf-blindness, multiple disabilities, or developmental delay; and who, by reason thereof, need special education and related services.” How can anyone justify hitting a disabled child?

Union County and the State of North Carolina are faced with choices. Let’s look at the research based data and the facts. Look at the advocacy statements from the major national organizations involved in medicine and education. They support a ban on corporal punishment in schools. The National Association of State Boards of Education addresses this issue. This is its statement on this issue. “Child abuse, including the psychological maltreatment of children and the use of corporal punishment in schools, is wrong and should be condemned.” Well said.

I challenge the current Board of Education to research this topic, and ban its use immediately. In the meantime, you have a duty to protect our children from the illegal use of this practice. Follow the law, and lead by example, the laws do apply to all. If a child can be hit for breaking a rule, what should be done to a system who fails to follow the law? We as a community await your response.

Peggy Dean
Waxhaw, North Carolina

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