Corporal Punishment In NC Schools: If We Can Beat Mules, Why Not Kids?

Ken AshfordEducation1 Comment

North Carolina is one of the few states that permits educators to hit students.  Although the practice has been banned by some school districts in this state, 60 of the 115 school districts think that a teacher walloping a kid is a good way to maintain discipline.

That has prompted legislation about corporal punishment in schools.  A bill is now making its way through the General Assembly this year, havind passed a House committee yesterday.  The bill would not outright abolish the practice though.  It just adds more notification and parental consent safeguards when a child is spanked at school. That's all the supporters of the bill thought they could get passed this year.  It will help a little, but striking kids in school will continue as long as parents agree.

The bill banning corporal punishment outright was brought last session, but it failed.  Hence, the watered-down version this year. Last session, officials with the North Carolina Association of Educators, the UNC School of Social Work and the North Carolina PTA all supported a corporal punishment ban. They talked about the culture created by corporal punishment administered by authority figures, the bad example it provides for kids, and the research that shows it is not an effective way to discipline children.

But opponents of the bill loved to brag, it seemed, about how much they were hit when they were young.  Rep. Ronnie Sutton, for example, told his colleagues that when he was growing up, he was "beaten like a rented mule once or twice a week at school."

What Sutton apparently didn't realize is that in today's world, it would be illegal to beat a rented mule once or twice a week.  We have animal cruelty laws.

It's not hard, therefore, to expect the same treatment and protections being given to children in schools.

This session's bill (PDF) passed the committee and now goes to the House floor.  Opponents are already objecting on the grounds that the bill requires each school district to compile stats on the number of times corporal punishment was administered, and furnish that info to the State Board of Education.  Opponents are calling this a "bookkeeping nightmare".  Yikes — you mean it happens that often?