If you have children who attend public school in Florida, you might want to check them for bruises.
According to a recent report by NPR, Florida is one of 19 states that permit public school officials to paddle students.
The Florida Department of Education estimates that about 3,661 students were subjected to corporal punishment in the state of Florida in the 2009-2010 school year.
To be fair, this figure is on the decline and represents only about .76 percent of all disciplinary actions taken in the state during that school year.
Still, one has to wonder why corporal punishment even exists at all.
Most of the counties with high numbers (more than 150 incidents of paddling) during the 2009-2010 school year were in rural North Florida, near the Alabama and Georgia borders.
However, there were counties in South Florida, such as Highlands, Hendry and Hardee, which reported relatively high levels of corporate punishment.
One public school in Alachua County reported an incident of a student being paddled during this same school year.
Whether parents agree with this form of punishment, under Florida law, school districts do not need parental consent.
In Levy County, which had more than 100 incidents of corporal punishment in the 2009-2010 school year, parent Tenika Jones told NPR that her child’s elementary school sent home a letter asking permission to paddle students.
Jones said she refused to sign the waiver, but her 5-year-old son, Gierrea Bostick, was still paddled after he slapped another boy on a school bus.
According to Jones, the paddling left welts on Gierrea’s bottom. Jones hopes to sue the Levy County School District even though the law is against her. However, attorneys can argue that excessive force was used against her son.
Clinical child psychologist Deborah Sendek told NPR that paddling does nothing to deter students from engaging in bad behavior.
But the debate continues.
While some argue that punishment through negative reinforcement teaches kids discipline, others argue that it can lead to more violent behavior.
For instance, a 2006 study by the American Psychological Association found, “adolescents who were more likely to engage in fighting, bullying, and victimization of others reported that their parents engaged in corporal punishment as a disciplining method.”
Again, this is just one study, but before we allow public schools to engage in this sort of disciplinary action, should we not be sure of its possible negative effects?
And, more importantly, if parents disagree with these disciplinary methods, should they not be allowed to opt their kids out of such punishment?