Time to halt paddling

Published 7:59 pm Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It was encouraging to read Tuesday’s story from The Associated Press about the decline in corporal punishment cases in North Carolina, one of 20 states that allow a form of discipline that has been banned in prisons and the military.

“If there is any good news, it is that corporal punishment is being used less and less in our public schools,” Tom Vitaglione, who authored a report for Action for Children North Carolina, told The Associated Press.

The most reassuring part of the story centered on the actions of the Columbus County School District and its superintendent, Alan Faulk. When officials were informed in February that corporal punishment had been administered 193 times during the 2010-2011 school year, they suspended the practice. During its March meeting, the school district abolished it.

“Our district was one of 17 that still did (corporal punishment) with parental consent,” Faulk said in a telephone interview with the Daily News on Wednesday. “When the figures came out, our numbers were alarming. We had been talking about it before then because it is a huge liability. We saw the number, and it was an opportunity to act.”

Corporal punishment is defined in state law as “intentionally inflicting physical pain to discipline a student.”

Incredibly, 359 students felt the sting of the paddle at Robeson County’s 40-plus schools in 2010-2011. Even if you include weekends and holidays, that’s roughly one student a day. That’s one too many.

Research has shown that corporal punishment may do more psychological harm than good. It is time for the General Assembly to take the proper action and ban this practice statewide.

There are more positive disciplinary measures that do not border on abuse.