There are all kinds of bizarre laws that outlaw the strangest, most seemingly innocent or random things. We often hear about this, such as states that have archaic laws on what you can say or do in public. However, the other side of the coin is that many unlikely things are actually legal. One of these is corporal punishment in schools.
First of all, this is a controversial issue with people having strong opinions on both sides. Some people believe that spanking, paddling or other types of corporal punishment are barbaric and should be outlawed. Others believe that this type of approach helps with discipline and may even attribute the decline of corporal punishment with societal decay. No matter what your opinion, it’s still fairly surprising that this type of punishment is still legal in so many places.
Where is Corporal Punishment Permitted in Schools?
While physical punishment in schools is often thought to be an outdated practice, it’s actually legal in many states in the U.S. As of this writing, it is legal in the following states:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Since the issue is constantly being argued, both in and out of courts, the above list may change at any time.
The Controversy of Corporal Punishment
The federal government in the U.S. does not have an official policy on corporal punishment, leaving it to individual states to decide the matter. Because it’s such a divisive issue, it’s quite controversial even in states where it is legal. For states that haven’t banned the practice, it’s up to counties or individual schools to decide whether or not it’s permitted. This often leads to long standing debates between parents, school administrators and local politicians. For example, Marion County, Florida has gone back and forth between allowing and prohibiting corporal punishment in its schools.
The underlying question that is constantly debated is whether or not corporal punishment is effective. This issue is closely related to whether parents are allowed to spank or otherwise physically discipline their kids. Some research indicates that physical punishment is tied to emotional problems such as hyperactivity and increased aggression. This, of course, is the very opposite of the intended outcome. On the other hand, there are the frequent arguments made by older people who grew up being spanked and harshly disciplined. They will often point out that in their youth, crime rates were low and school shootings were unheard of. There are, of course, many other factors to consider when it comes to crime and violence in schools -violence on TV and computer games, the availability of guns, drug use and so forth. This makes it very difficult to isolate one factor such as corporal punishment and determine whether or not it deters or encourages such problems.
The Future of Corporal Punishment
It’s difficult to predict what the future of corporal punishment in schools will be. This is the type of issue that gets fiercely debated by experts on both sides. It’s related to factors such as whether the prevailing political climate is liberal or conservative as well as local crime statistics. Of course, the evidence is very inconclusive about whether physical punishment actually deters kids from misbehaving or committing serious crimes. It seems that, for the foreseeable future at least, this will remain a controversial issue. For the time being, however, corporal punishment in schools remains legal in many places.