When teachers spank students

NC Policy Watch has a disturbing guest column today about the practice of corporal punishment in North Carolina schools. It's truly depressing to learn that we live in a state where a majority of school systems allow adults to spank children in retribution for whatever they consider inappropriate behavior.

The state statute allows local school boards to practice corporal punishment, and lists four broad requirements, such as administering it in a private place, with a witness, and notification of the parents after the fact. However, corporal punishment is not defined in the statute, nor is it defined in most local school policies. Thus, it might include slapping the face or paddling the buttocks; it might include asking students to remove clothing for paddling; it might include allowing a grown man to hit a little girl.


If you are hoping that the State Board of Education is trying to bring some sense to this situation, you will be sadly disappointed. In fact, the State Board does not even monitor corporal punishment in the public schools. Local boards are not required to file their corporal punishment policies, nor are they required to report its occurrence.

I'm sure North Carolina's leading pro-torture advocates are all for kids getting smacked around in schools. They don't buy arguments that it doesn't actually work, just like they don't buy military arguments that torture doesn't work. Violence is apparently just too good for their god-forsaken souls.


Techinically, yes, it is allowed, but in practice

it doesn't happen all that often. I can tell you that I have yet to hear of any student getting corporal punishment in Person Co. Might have happened, might happen elsewhere, but I haven't heard of it. Too much of a hassle, and other methods exist to control behavior.

I have had parents give me a 100% green light as far as smacking their kid, but I never took them up on it.

Do you have any stats available? Is this widespread?

Person County Democrats

That's one of the problems

There are no stats. I've heard of only a few instances ... so I hope you're right that it's not common place.

I don't hear about spanking much

I agree with Person Dem, this may be more a problem with policy than practice. When I work with education advocates (both parents and professionals) from around the state, I hear about lots of problems - but corporal punishment has never come up.

Even though parents might tell a teacher to "give him a good whooping," most teachers wouldn't dare. They're way to afraid that the same parent would threaten a lawsuit.

Now, suspensions are a real problem. Kids as young as pre-k get suspended, and missing school isn't exactly good for academic progress. You can learn more about this problem here.

The odd thing

The state does not allow corporal punishment in child care facilities (except in church related ones - go figure). Child Care Facilities are regulated by the Division of Child Development, which is part of The Department of Health and Human Services. Under Child Care rules, spanking is considered child abuse.

But if a child moves from child care to public school, which is regulated by the Department of Public Instruction, they can just spank away!

Definitely something that should change.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

Interestingly, I think, current law was a reform

Current law regarding corporal punishment in the public schools was a reform some decades ago when I was among those who worked hard to extract it from an unwilling General Assembly.
Before it was passed, public school teachers in North Carolina had an affirmative right to use "reasonable force" in pursuit of classroom discipline.
The definition of "reasonable" had been hammered out in court and was startlingly broad.
That reform made it possible for local school boards to enact policies restricting what teachers in their jurisdictions could and could not with regard to corporal punishment.
Those sequester-and-witness provisions you refer to were intended to prevent violent public humiliation of students, which was fairly commonplace at the time, without replacing that evil with private excess.
Principals still had and have more site-by-site authority and legal responsibility than is commonly understood, but I digress.
Our goal at the time was to ban corporal punishment.
Among those of us who fought those battles and are still alive, I am sure it unanimously still is.
I'll dig out my files on the subject (pre-internet, non-digital) and rejoin the fray.