Schools have alternatives to corporal punishment
EDITORIAL: Muskogee Phoenix, November 17, 2006

— The latest spanking incident in the Muskogee School District provides one good reason to ban corporal punishment at its schools.

But it’s not the only reason, and it’s not the best one. The parents of an 11-year-old boy filed an assault and battery complaint with Muskogee police after Ed Wallace, principal of Whittier Elementary, swatted the boy earlier this month. The parents’ lawyer claims the boy was battered and he will file a tort claim.

The potential threat of lawsuits is a good reason to ban corporal punishment. Of course, we shouldn’t live in fear of lawsuits if we’re doing what’s right, but teachers and administrators have plenty of other methods of discipline available to them to handle children who misbehave and disrupt classrooms. And other disciplinary methods, such as SAC, timeout and suspension, are just as, or more, effective. Corporal punishment can go wrong, too, in a couple of different ways. The Whittier incident will have to be sorted out by police and possibly a court, and this is not a comment on what happened there.

But many children are psychologically damaged by corporal punishment, even by the lightest spanking or swatting. What can be done to children psychologically is not worth the temporary gain in submission. Also, adults can injure children unintentionally because of the size and strength difference. Again, the potential of injury is not worth retaining corporal punishment as an option. We wouldn’t go so far as to say the United States should adopt a ban on corporal punishment of children in the home as well as in school. Sweden enacted a ban in 1979. Greece approved one last month. The United Nations is advocating a global end to corporal punishment of children.

However, many American parents would do a better job of parenting if they employed other disciplinary methods, and this country wouldn’t have the problem with child abuse it has now if more people were quicker with positive reinforcement and less quick with a switch or the back of a hand.


Return to:
Anti-corporal punishment editorials
Front Page