Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, a Democrat from New York's 4th congressional district, introduced a bill Wednesday to ban corporal punishment in American schools.
"Bullying is enough of a problem among students; the teachers shouldn't be doing it, too. There's nothing positive or productive about corporal punishment," McCarthy said on her House website.
The bill would ban paddling, spanking and all other forms of physical punishment.
School Paddling Pervasiveness
Nineteen U.S. states allow corporal punishment in school, most of them in the south. They are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.
The United States is almost alone in the industrialized world in allowing schools to use corporal punishment on students.
Boys, blacks and special ed students receive a disproportionate share of school paddlings.
Problems with Paddling
In 2006-2007, the latest year for which data was collated by the U.S. Dept. of Education, more than 220,000 children were subject to corporal punishment in American schools.
According to child development experts:
* Half of students subjected to corporal punishment develop traumatic reactions characterized by depression and anxiety.
* Corporal punishment increases the risk of a child becoming physically aggressive, delinquent or both.
* Students subjected to corporal punishment are more likely to engage in verbal or physical attacks both against the punishment source and against others in the environment.
* Corporal punishment and homicide rates show a troubling correspondence. Researcher Murray A. Straus suggests that children learn that violence is a way to correct behavior and repeat that lesson in social situations where they perceive another person needs to be taught a lesson.
* Spanking is associated with slowed development and decreased IQ.
* Paddling can cause severe muscle injury, extensive blood clotting, whiplash, and hemorrhaging, according to the Society for Adolescent Medicine.
From Principal's Office to Emergency Room
In the 1986-87 school year, when the Society for Adolescent Medicine estimated that 3 million cases of physical punishment occurred in schools, 10,000 to 20,000 children needed medical treatment as a result. Since then, the number of annual school paddlings has decreased, but students are still winding up in emergency rooms. Last year, these school paddlings made the news after the students suffered medical problems:
* Trey Clayton lost and damaged numerous teeth and broke both jaws as a result of passing out and falling after a school paddling in Independence, Miss. in March.
* In March, Wichita Falls, Texas student Tyler Anastopoulos was paddled so hard for skipping detention that he ended up at the hospital emergency room for treatment of deep bruises.
* A 12-year-old Pike County, Ky. boy's parents complained that a paddling left their son in need of emergency room treatment in May. James Wallace said his son had bruises and blisters on his buttocks.
* Tenika Jones' 5 year old son was paddled in April by a school principal in Levy County, Fla. The bruising led to an asthma attack, she said. Her son missed a week of school and suffered recurring nightmares after the incident, Gainesville.com reported.
Violence in Corporal Punishment States
Here's a look at per capita crime rates for states authorizing the use of corporal punishment on school children:
* Seven of the 19 states which authorize corporal punishment in schools are in the top 10 with respect to murder rankings per capita. Fifteen of the 19 are in the top half of states when it comes to per capita murder rates.
* Four of those 19 states are in the top 10 for violent crime per capita, while 14 are in the top half.
* Each state that permits schools to inflict corporal punishment on students also is among the 34 that impose the death penalty.
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