Corporal Punishment in Schools Still a Reality

A video of a Mississippi basketball coach whipping a player has reignited the debate over corporal punishment in schools.

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Look, I’m among the parents who believe in spanking as a viable option in raising children. And while select neighbors and other non-family members in the black community might have had carte blanche to spank children back in the day (which would usually lead to another spanking at home), I don’t believe it’s appropriate in today’s society. I certainly don’t believe we should trust school administrators to make fair and impartial decisions on who deserves paddling, how long, how hard and so on.

Even though parents in some states “opt in” to corporal punishment, if they’re given a choice, it’s time for the practice to end. School hallways shouldn’t ring with the whacks administered to approximately 200,000 students each year. The threat and application of corporal punishment taints the entire student population and school environment, whether or not some students’ parents had the good sense to opt out. Determining that it’s wrong for school officials to hit students shouldn’t be that difficult, but the U.S. is one of the few industrialized nations that haven’t reached that conclusion.

Perhaps we’ll come to our senses soon. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) has sponsored the “Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act,” which would ban corporal punishment in all public and private schools that receive federal assistance. If a school wants to continue whacking students, fine; but it would have to operate without any federal funds.

McCarthy says that the elimination of corporal punishment in schools will create safer and more conducive atmospheres that “foster students’ growth and dignity.” Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), a co-sponsor, sees the matter as an issue of equality, too. “The fact that schools are applying school discipline policies in a discriminatory manner based on race, color, national origin, disability or gender constitutes a civil rights violation and is wrong,” he says.

Take another look at the video of Dorsey whipping that player. Yes, it’s outrageous. But a greater outrage is that it’s sanctioned in 20 states. It’s time for that to cease and desist.

Deron Snyder is a regular contributor to The Root. He can be reached at deron@blackdoorventures.com.

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