By: Staff Report
When you think of corporal punishment in schools, it’s easy to think of a time from long ago or a place completely foreign from here. However, that topic is a reoccurring, still-recent phenomenon affecting children worldwide – including the U.S.
And by recent, we mean very recent.
Well, to give you a little history lesson, it was only in 1977 that the Supreme Court weighed in on now famous and critical case, Ingraham v. Wright. When a student from Florida received several swats from his teacher and principal, was bruised because of the forceful discipline and forced to stay home for several days. His family then sued the school officials responsible and cited the Eight Amendment (which protects against “cruel and unusual punishments” against federal government) as a defense, but the court denied the case because – unfortunately – this law only applies to convicted criminals and not children in schools. Despite this conclusion, the case went on to change how schools on a local-level perceived this practice and soon after many began to change their approach and ban corporal punishment altogether. However, there are still some schools and states that haven’t been completely convinced.
How U.S. is Dealing
Fast forward several decades later, and the stats continue to increase with over 100,000 cases of corporal punishment reported across the nation. It’s effects and consequences have been documented for years. A recent study, conducted in two private West Africa schools by several U.S. universities, even demonstrates how verbal intelligence and “executive functioning” – such as planning and abstract thinking – are severely affected by young kindergarteners exposed to beating with a stick, slapping of the head, and pinching by school officials. According to one of the researchers, Professor Victoria Talwar of McGill University, these actions may make children compliant, but reduce the likelihood that they will internalize rules and standards in the long-run.
Campaigns Against the Problem
This long-term effect, as seen in the McGill study, is what’s reforming the U.S. own education system now. With 19 states (and counting) still allowing and using corporal punishment as a method of disciplining students. It’s a campaign that’s not too popular in mainstream media and now – with some states requesting parental permission to proceed with corporal punishment – has been deemed acceptable. But with these findings, as well as other movements looking to make strides and bring that number in the U.S. to 0 (zero), there is sure to be a shift in how parents view these methods.
Mark Ecko, fashion designer extraordinaire, is one example of a powerful voice that has joined this fight with his project, Unlimited Justice. This campaign brings awareness and up-to-the-minute information on the different political players in the U.S. responsible for changing these rules/laws. It puts the pressure on by informing, recruiting and creating a discussion around this issue. One of the best part about this project by Ecko is the smart phone application – Unltd. Justice, Facebook and Twitter discussions that have stemmed from bringing this concern to the forefront.
Join the Fight, Against the Paddle
Although it’s difficult to still imagine teachers – those entrusted with teaching and educating our children – using a paddle, it’s still very much a part of our social system in the U.S. Despite the many facts and studies, there are 19 states that continue to allow this form of discipline. It’s a behavior that’s still embedded in our culture. Don’t believe us, just do a quick search on “corporal punishment” and note all the comments that are actually for this practice.
So join us YUMs, Unlimited Justice, or whoever you find is fighting the good fight and let’s bring this count down for our children.