It’s hard to believe that corporal punishment is still allowed in 19 states (“Where Lynching Terrorized Black Americans, Corporal Punishment in Schools Lives On,” Huffington Post, July 21). Although it is rarely used, the fact that it remains legal is troubling.
I say that because it is almost always counterproductive. In the nearly 90 percent of school districts in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi that reported at least one school using corporal punishment during the 2011-12 school year, I wonder what their experience was. Did it change the behavior of students? If so, how? Were there any negative effects? These are all important questions.
It’s not surprising that schools in counties with long histories of violent social control – typically in the Deep South – are more likely to use such punishment. Nevertheless, when I was in high school on Long Island, N.Y. in the mid 1950s, P.E. teachers occasionally gave students a swat on their backside with a wooden paddle. No parent ever complained. But that was then, this is now.
I also vividly remember friends who attended Catholic schools in that era receiving slaps on their hands with rulers or pinches on their ears for misbehaving in class. They told me that nuns were quick to use such punishment. I wonder if that still goes on today.
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