“The fundamental need of American education is to find ways of engaging today’s children in the thrill of learning. Fear of pain has no place in that process.” – The Christian Science Monitor. Because Ms. Pena and I are in compliance with this statement, we have decided to bring to the attention of the community, the corporal punishment of Sinton High School. There are many effective ways of properly punishing a disobedient student, but there are also limits to certain disciplinary measures. Grant it that a student from Sinton High School may now choose their own punishment, with consent from the parents, it is up to the administrator to keep in compliance, and with in the limits. Bruises, cuts, and/or broken skin should not occur in the process of administering corporal punishment. The eight constitutional amendment clearly states that “no cruel or unusual punishment should be inflicted.” If markings are found on a student, the boundaries and law have been broken. Rupturing these boundaries surfaces the question, “Just exactly WHY are we administering the corporal punishment to students, to hurt them?” “…the use of corporal punishment in schools is intrinsically related to child maltreatment. It contributes to a climate of violence, it implies that society approves of the physical violation of children, it establishes an unhealthy norm…Its outright abolition throughout the nation must occur immediately.” – U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect.
It has been made known to the students of Sinton High School, and now to the parents and community, that the administrators of the corporal punishment, Mr. Mike Burger, and Ms. Linda Harrison, have left numerous marks on students through corporal punishment. Many of the marks have lasted at least a week and many up to two. Physical child abuse is defined and characterized by inflicting physical injury by several means, and result in bruises and many other markings. Although the injury is not an accident the person may have not intended to hurt the child. The injury may have resulted from over-discipline or physical punishment.
Dennis Randall of www.familyeducation.com once stated, in relation to the corporal punishment he received, “When I think back, I can’t remember why I was punished, and the only thing it taught me, was to loathe that teacher.” How can we teach children that violence is such a horrible thing when if, for say, they do something violent, they will get punished with violence. Then teaching them that violence is “Okay” as long as its punishment for doing wrong. Mr. Sid Leonard perhaps crystallized this very point by saying “The same ones kept coming back for more. It wasn’t working. Hitting children did not seem to improve their behavior. It seemed in fact to be reinforcing the very behaviors I was attempting to eliminate.”
Furthermore, there are many valid arguments against corporal punishment such as:
It perpetuates a cycle of child abuse. It teaches children to hit someone smaller and weaker when angry.
Schools are the only institutions in America in which striking another person is legally sanctioned. It is not allowed in prisons, in the military or in mental hospitals.
Schools that use corporal punishment often have poorer academic achievement, more vandalism, truancy, pupil violence and higher drop out rates.
Many alternatives to corporal punishment have proven their worth. Alternatives teach children to be self-disciplined rather than cooperative only because of fear.
Injuries occur, such as bruises and broken bones that are not unusual. Children’s deaths have occurred in the U.S. due to school corporal punishment.
Number five in that list is the argument most closely related to the situation at Sinton High School. How can you as parents and community leaders stand back and watch your students be subjected to this torture? Texas is ranked among the lowest four in the Kindness to Children Index. Texas is also ranked in the top ten percent of states in the U.S. of students struck by educators in the 1999-2000 school year, and also struck an average of about 73,994 that same year. This year Sinton High School added to that number by allowing corporal punishment back to be administered to the students by the principal and Asst. principal.
The Akron Beacon Journal once wrote, “In this era of reform, is it too much to expect educators to think of more civilized ways to correct students?” There are many “more civilized” ways, and programs that have proven affective such as, Social Skills Instruction, Character Education Program, Student Recognition Program, Peer Mediation, and Internet Resource: OSEP Technical Assistance Center of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Other alternatives and punishments include, use of discipline codes which are fair and consistently enforced, emphasizing positive behaviors of students, use of school psychologists and school counselors and use of community mental health professionals and agencies. Alternative punishments include in-school and out-of-school suspension programs, expulsion, Saturday Schools, restitution, detention and parent pick-up programs.