The archaic image of a public school administrator using a paddle to discipline a student might seem like a relic of the past that has thankfully been done away with.
But in North Carolina, the practice of corporal punishment still exists in many school districts.
According to state law, local school boards are allowed to adopt specific policies on whether to administer corporal punishment.
46 of the 115 local school districts in North Carolina allow corporal punishment. These do not include Orange, Chatham or Durham counties, according to Action for Children, a Raleigh advocacy group.
The group released a report stating that children in North Carolina were hit more than 1,400 times from 2008-09.
It is troubling when there are such a high number of instances in which government employees have laid a hand on schoolchildren. This allows for a higher probability of serious abuse or mistreatment of children to occur.
If a child is spanked by a school employee, parents are prohibited by the state from bringing a civil case against the school district.
No law exists that mandates school districts give parents the option of exempting their children from such punishment.
Students with disabilities also are not exempt from corporal punishment and were administered 290 instances of corporal punishment in 2006, the report states.
The practice of corporal punishment in North Carolina schools should be put to an end by state lawmakers when legislative sessions begin in May.
There are alternative means of discipline such as the Positive Behavioral Support, which is endorsed by the state. This system emphasizes positive reinforcement for good behavior and encourages participation by both parents and students to set new goals for conduct.
Evaluations conducted by the state imply that the PBS program has brought significant benefits in improving student behavior and performance in school. With such a viable alternative, North Carolina needs to make sure that the paddle stays out of its schools.
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