Twenty-two US States Allow Corporal Punishment in School

The cynical, systemic avoidance of responsibility with regard to the welfare of children in the United States is now better illustrated than in the practice of corporal punishment in schools.

"The US Department of Education declared school corporal punishment is a matter for the states to decide. This is a win for the states. Let us systematically rescind corporal punishment.

"In the twenty-two (22) states which permit corporal punishment, departments of education say it's a matter for local school districts to decide.

"School districts where corporal punishment is practiced say their policy reflects the will of the community expressed through their elected school boards.

"When school children are injured by corporal punishment, no one seems to have a strategy to address the problem. Instead, the parties engage in a well-practiced ritual of circular buck-passing which leaves the school administration essentially a law without them and children unprotected. Let us not allow this type blind attitude harm another child. Let us systematically rescind corporal punishment in schools in your state, in your district in your community.

Corporal punishment causes emotional as well as physical damage, which can not be resolved through traditional talk therapy. Healing emotional damage from corporal punishment needs to specifically focus on the afterfeffects of physical violence. If left unhealed the emotional damage continues to plague the person for a lifetime. Hitting, paddling, smacking, whacking, bopping, or any form of physical assault against a child is violence, because the act violates the child's sacred body boundaries.

Furthermore, when a parent or other authority figure, which the child is totally dependent on, uses corporal punishment, the child is betrayed in the worst way possible. "I love you, therefore, I hit you," is hypocrisy. It is hypocrisy because love and hitting (hurting) can not co-exist simultaniously. It is hypocrisy because the same act against an adult is considered assault and battery and the perpetrator is subject to arrest and possibly a jail sentence. Why then, when so much is at stake, do we assault our children when we protect adults from the same violent act? The answer is quite simple, but too lengthy to include in this article.

Dr. Frank Putnam of the National Institute of Mental Health and Dr. Martin Teicher of Harvard Medical School studied 170 girls, 6-15 years old-half had experienced corporal punishment, half had not-for seven years. The girls who practiced corporal punishment had symptoms such as abnormally high stress hormones, which can kill neurons in brain areas critical for thinking and memory, and high levels of an antibody that weakens the immune system.

Teicher completed a series of brain studies on 402 children and adults, many of what experienced corporate punishment. His finds revealed that corporal punishment creates arrested growth of the left hemisphere of the brain which can hamper development of language and logic and arrested growth of the right hemisphere of the brain at an abnormally early age.

The AMA and APA ignore these studies. Why do the AMA and APA ignore these studies and other noted researchers' work-for example: Judith Herman, MD? The answer lies within the denial theory-if we do not believe it, it can not hurt us. The irony is "Facts do no cease to exist because they ignored," and the tragic results follow.

The results are:

"Children who parents or other authority figures use corporal punishment to correct unacceptable behavior show more antisocial behavior over a long period of time, regardless of race and socialeconomic status, and regardless of whether the mother provides cognitive stimulation and emotional support (Gunnoe & Mariner, 1997; Kazdin, 1987; Patterson, DeBaryshe, & Ramsey, 1989; Straus, Sugarman, & Giles-Sims, 1997).

(Strausberg et al., 1994; Straus, 1994; Straus & Gelles, 1990;

"Corporal punishment increases the likelihood of children assaulting the parent in retaliation, when they are older (Brezina, 1998).

"Corporal punishment sends a message that violence is a viable option for solving problems (Straus, Gelles, Steinmetz, 1980; Straus, Sugarman, & Giles-Sims, 1997).

"Children who are spanked regularly are more likely over time to cheat or lie, be disobedient at school, bully others, and show less remorse for wrongdoing (Straus, Sugarman, & Giles-Sims, 1997).

"Corporal punishment adversely affects children's cognitive development. Children who are spanked perform poorly on school tasks compared to other children (Straus & Mathur, 1995; Straus & Paschall, 1998).

Something can be done. Healing can only begin with an acknowledgment of the truth. It is futile to hope that lies, evasions and excused can somehow erase the memory and the pain of past injuries.

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