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Corporal punishment declines in schools
Fewer incidents reported in N.C. districts
 
Published Thursday, October 10, 2013 7:13 am
by Herbert L. White

Corporal punishment continues to decline in North Carolina’s public schools, according to a survey.

The survey report released today by Action for Children North Carolina found that six of the state’s 115 school districts used the paddle as a form of punishment in the 2012-13 academic year. Students were struck 184 times, which represents an 80 percent drop over the last two years. North Carolina is one of 19 states where corporal punishment is allowed.

“This is a far cry from more than two decades ago, when virtually all of the 115 local districts used corporal punishment and thousands of students were hit annually,” said Tom Vitaglione, ACNC’s senior fellow. 

Robeson County, which used corporal punishment 141 times last school year, led the state, representing 76 percent of the total number of incidents. 

 “Even in Robeson, corporal punishment has declined by 50 percent in the last two years,” Vitaglione said. “We remain hopeful that the community will soon signal school officials to drop the practice.”

The statutory definition of corporal punishment, according to the report, is “the intentional infliction of pain upon the body of a student as a disciplinary measure.” There are no restrictions on the implement used to inflict pain, nor the number of times a student may be struck, except that the student should “not require medical attention beyond simple first aid.”  

Corporal punishment is banned in 99 school districts, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Ten others allow the practice, but don’t use it, including Stanly County, the closest to CMS.  

“The dramatic decline is a response to a growing body of research that has found no academic benefit to hitting students,” Vitaglione said. “In fact, as districts have dropped the practice, graduation rates and end-of-year test scores continue to improve. Districts have switched to other methods of discipline that are associated with positive academic outcomes. The most popular of these is positive behavior intervention and support.” 

The report notes that organizations, including the State Board of Education, oppose corporal punishment in public schools, and no groups actively support its use.

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