Stop Spanking
EDITORIAL, Winston-Salem Journal, March 21, 2007

It makes little sense to teach children to settle their differences with words rather than fists - and then to spank them if they don't comply.

Adults must also learn that paddles don't settle disputes any better than fisticuffs.

North Carolina should not permit corporal punishment in the public schools. The General Assembly should ban the practice in the 68 school districts that still permit it.

Under North Carolina law, local school districts decide whether there will be corporal punishment in the schools. Generally, local control of the schools is championed on this page, but not in this case.

There is no place for physical violence in the schools, not among students and not by teachers or principals directed at unruly children. This should be a central tenet of North Carolina's school system. Parents should not have to worry that by their living in one county rather than another they subject their child to the sting of a principal's paddle.

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools ban corporal punishment, as do Guilford County schools. Some other counties surrounding Forsyth do not.

School officials in the districts that still allow paddling say that it is regulated and infrequently used. Policies have been adjusted over the years to institutionalize the punishment in most cases, and that has been a good move.

The time has come, however, to ban the practice throughout the state.

There are still systems in which a teacher has the authority to simply crack any child he or she determines to be unruly.

Those days should end. Society has learned that such a policy can lead to considerable abuse.

Reports in just the last several years indicate cases of exorbitant punishment in the state.

Corporal punishment teaches young children that violence is an acceptable reaction when one doesn't get his or her way. If a principal or teacher can strike little Johnny for misbehavior, that boy is likely to take that lesson home to smack his little sister when she doesn't do as he wishes.

There are not a lot of good state statistics on corporal punishment, but the research done nationally and abroad raises the likelihood that it encourages more aggressive behavior in some students. That only makes sense. Most of us don't take a whipping without resenting it.

Schools have big discipline problems, but they won't solve them by using paddles.

Violence doesn't bring about better behavior, it only encourages more mischief and aggression. The legislature should ban corporal punishment, and the schools that currently employ it should find other ways to maintain order.



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