Guest Post: Tennessee Lawmakers Must Abolish School Corporal Punishment

This guest post comes to us from a staunch advocate in support of removing corporal punishment as an option for discipline under state education laws. Julie Worley is President of Tennesseans for Non-Violent School Discipline. Her full bio follows the op-ed.

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Tennesseans for Non-Violent School Discipline hosted a National Protest Against School Corporal Punishment of Students at the Tennessee State Capitol on Thursday, April 5, 2012.

Tennessee is one of 19 U.S. States that allow disciplinary beating of schoolchildren K-12 by teachers, coaches and administrators in 2012 without parental consent or notification, with no safety standards to protect students from injuries. Tennessee students are treated differently based on where they live.
School corporal punishment is disproportionately applied to boys, minority, disabled and low-income students.
April is “National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month” and the rally was to raise awareness of the harmful and abusive practice of “School Corporal Punishment” while calling on Tennessee lawmakers to take action to abolish school corporal punishment in the state of Tennessee, already prohibited in Nashville schools and schools in 31 U.S. states, to ensure EQUAL access to safe and healthy learning environments for ALL Tennessee school children. Two-thirds of Tennessee students attend “Paddling Schools”. The rally was also held to raise awareness of Federal Bill H.R. 3027 “The Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act” currently in U.S. Congress.
A number of individual school districts have recently banned school corporal punishment of students in the few states that have not outlawed the destructive practice.  The same action, hitting a child with a wooden board, in public is assault and must be outlawed behind the locked doors of our taxpayer funded public schools entrusted with the care and education of our children.
The use of violence, pain, fear, intimidation and humiliation to maintain order in schools is not educational best practice and must be outlawed immediately as it has been consistently found in decades of research to be harmful to the healthy development of children and an impairment to the learning environment. Its use also has the potential to jeopardize school employees’ careers along with putting school district’s taxpayer funded assets at risk of lawsuits.
School corporal punishment of students often results in injuries, sometimes severe, requiring emergency medical treatment.  Parents are often shocked to discover that they are unable to bring criminal/civil action against school employees who are responsible for inflicting injuries on students due to “Teacher Immunity Laws”.  Federal Courts uphold school paddling appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear school corporal punishment appeals, leaving families of injured students no legal remedy.
A recent example of the damage done to a Crossville Tennessee school, coach and student was reported March 8, 2012 by NewsChannel5 titled “Legendary Football Coach Faces Criminal Charges For Paddling“.

The student’s mother said her son had a traumatic brain injury from an ATV crash and any further trauma like paddling to his head or spine could have killed him.  The boy was on the school’s “No Paddle” list, but the mother said he was still paddled.

The coach is no longer employed by the school, is facing criminal charges and two civil rights attorneys are bringing a federal lawsuit against responsible parties.

Shockingly, Tennessee lawmakers and government agencies are hard to reach and have no comment regarding the archaic and barbaric practice of inflicting pain on schoolchildren to punish them, children’s health and safety issued in our taxpayer funded schools are not their priority.
Tennessee lawmakers must do the right thing for students, encouraging people to want to live, work and raise their families in our beautiful state by Abolishing School Corporal Punishment immediately.
For more information, view “USA School Beatings–Anything Goes!” including an interview of Julie Worley and daughter, Angie describing what it is like to attend school in a “Paddling School District.”  Search “A Violent Education” for disturbing facts.  Support Federal Bill H.R. 3027 “The Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act” at donthitstudents.com.
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Julie Worley is President of Tennesseans for Non-Violent School Discipline. She is a resident of Houston Co. Tennessee. As a parent of 3 children, who we do not hit, her children must attend schools in an UNRESPONSIVE “Paddling School District” where they ae FORCED to overhear the blows as their teachers hit classmates with wooden paddles in hallways, just outside class, as a knee-jerk reaction to minor infractions such as horsing around or not turning in homework, without parental consent or notification, NOT REQUIRED PER TN STATE LAW, then the beaten student is further humiliated when they must immediately face classmates as they return to their seat!

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1 Comment

  1. Christina Slusar - July 24, 2012, 9:44 am

    I recently found out that my 5year old grandson in Kindergarten had been paddled several times in the principal’s office.an instructor informed me during a CPI refresher workshop (non violent physical intervention)that this form of corporal punishment had been outlawed for several years in TN. When I told her the name of the Wilson County school her comment was:”I’m not surprised”.When classroom management policies are ineffective and a student has to be sent to the principal’s office this sends a red flag,especially when he had been diagnosed with ADHD previously. This would be a good time to involve a behavior specialist,and /or a counselor to set up an individualized behavior plan with school and parents. Paddling as a consequence for loss of self-control in an ADHD child will only make him dislike school;use POSITIVE BEHAVIOR INTERVENTION and/or meds,if necessary.

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