Given all that is known about the ill effects of corporal punishment of children, it seems ridiculous to be having a debate whether educators are allowed to hit students with a wooden paddle as punishment.
However, in a few North Carolina counties and twenty-two states—corporal punishment of children in school, and "reasonable" corporal punishment of children by their parents/caretakers is legal in every state except Minnesota (Bitensky, 1998). Prohibition of corporal punishment in family day care, group homes/institutions, child care centers, and family foster care varies according to state laws (EPOCH-USA, 1999b).
Union County, North Carolina school board members spent several years haggling over the issue of corporal punishment. The vote January 2, 2007 was 6-3 in favor of banning corporal punishment
The evenly split vote is astonishing. Corporal punishment sends the wrong message to students—that violence is an acceptable response to conflict. Then when children act out what they have experienced—i.e. violence and mayhem—professionals scratch their heads in dismay and astonishment that a child would do such a thing. The child is then labeled a 'bad seed', rebellious, misfit or with some mysterious dysfunction.
The United States professes to be the most humane country for its citizens, yet this barbaric practice is still legal in twenty-two states. The majority of industrialized countries worldwide have prohibited corporal punishment in school for more than a century.
Sweden was the first country in the world to ban all corporal punishment of children. In 1979, the Swedish Parliament voted to prohibit corporal punishment, or the "right" of parents/caretakers to chastise their children. Swedish Member of Parliament, Sixten Pettersson stated "In a free democracy like our own, we use words as arguments, not blows. We talk to people and do not beat them. If we can't convince our children with words, we shall never convince them with violence." Today Corporal punishment of children by their parents/caretakers is illegal in all Nordic countries. Nordic societies agree that children are better educated with words than with violence.
It is time for the United States leaders to practice what they preach—ban all corporal punishment at home and schools.
Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD, author, "If I'd Only Known...Sexual Abuse in or Out of the Family: A Guide to Prevention, specializes in: Mind, Body, Spirit healing and Physical/Sexual Abuse Prevention and Recovery. As an inspirational leader, Dr. Neddermeyer empowers people to view life's challenges as an opportunity for Personal/Professional Growth and Spiritual Awakening. http://www.drdorothy.net