The Guam Education Policy Board is considering amending its corporal punishment policy to make it easier to spank schoolchildren.
Currently, policy states that corporal punishment can be used only as a "last resort," and then only for children whose parents sign a notarized consent form. The proposed new policy would mean enrollment into the public school system is consent by parents to allow school officials to administer corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure.
That is the exact opposite of what the board must do -- the change to the corporal punishment policy needs to be complete elimination of any kind of physical discipline.
Most industrialized countries ban corporal punishment in schools, and that trend is growing in the United States, with 28 states banning the striking of children in schools and more considering similar legislation.
Public schools are the last government institution where it is allowable to use hitting as a means of disciplinary punishment -- even convicted felons are protected from being spanked or struck in prison. It makes absolutely no sense to continue to subject our schoolchildren to physical discipline that we won't even allow against the worst people in our society.
The U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect says that schools' continued use of corporal punishment "contributes to a climate of violence, it implies that society approves of the physical violation of children, it establishes an unhealthy norm. ... Its outright abolition throughout the nation must occur immediately."
There simply isn't a need for corporal punishment to be used to instill discipline. Educators and school administrators have so many other options that don't subject our students to physical, psychological and emotional pain.
There are so many other things wrong with our public schools system; we must not add to that list by changing the corporal punishment policy to make it easier to hit children. We urge the school board to do the right thing -- abolish corporal punishment in our schools.
See Dr. Robert E. Fathman's column in today's Pacific Daily News.
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