Embarrassed by our Village?

An Arkansas student stands a one-in-seven chance of being paddled.  "Arkansas is a State of Disgrace -- the Clinton's should be embarrassed by their 'village'," says Robert Fathman, president of the Columbus, Ohio based National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools.

In a trend dating back to the 1700's, every industrialized country in the world now prohibits school corporal punishment, except the US, Canada and one state in Australia. South Africa is the most recent to abolish school corporal punishment, doing so in 1996.

In the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Friday, May 30, 1997:

Denmark law bans parents spanking kids
  COPENHAGEN, Denmark - By the slimmest of margins, Denmark joined its Nordic neighbors Wednesday in prohibiting parents from spanking their children or using other kinds of corporal punishment.
  After a heated debate in the parliament, the bill squeaked by in a 51-50 vote.
  Opponents contend that the measure is too intrusive. Tove Fergo of the Liberal Party said the law will "criminalize" parents using normal methods to raise their children."
  There was no immediate word on when the law will take effect or what the penalties will be for violators.
  Sweden, Norway and Finland have also banned spanking. (AP)

An amendment to the Majority Act - January 1, l986, in the Danish Act on Parental Custody and Conviviality No. 387, Sec. 2, subsec. 2, stated "Parental custody implies the obligation to protect the child against physical and psychological violence and other harmful treatment". In l984, before that was passed, a poll found only 25% of Danes in favor of prohibiting parental use of physical punishment and 68 percent against abolition.

Denmark signed the UN General Assembly "Convention on the Rights of the Child" on 26 January, 1990 and ratified the document on 19 July, 1991. The United States also signed it (16 February, 1995) but has not yet ratified it in Congress.

Over 40 national organizations in the US favor abolition of corporal punishment. They include the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Counseling & Development, American Bar Association, American Humanist Association, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, Association of Junior Leagues, Council for Exceptional Children, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, National Mental Health Association.

The US Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect recommended that "corporal punishment in schools is intrinsically related to child maltreatment… Its outright abolition throughout the nation must occur immediately" (1991).

Arkansas teachers subjected 56,262 students to corporal punishment (13.4% of total) in 1994. "Worst," by percentage of students struck, Arkansas is followed closely by Mississippi (10.9%) and Alabama (7.3%). Texas teachers hit 3.36% of students, followed by Louisiana (3.3%) and Oklahoma (3.0%). Missouri claims 10th by permitting the corporal punishment of 1.4% of students. Of the total US public school enrollment, 1.1% of students were subjected to corporal punishment. Twenty-three states, primarily in the Southeast and mid-south, permit the practice. A National Conference to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools is held annually in one of these states.

In 1989, The National Foster Parent Association general membership unanimously adopted a resolution urging the abolition of corporal punishment of children. According to J. Terpstra, Licensing Specialist, Children's Bureau, US Department of Health and Human Services, Arkansas does not permit physical punishment in Foster Care or Residential Institutions and Agency Group Homes (caring for and treating some of Arkansas' most "difficult to manage" children). However, Arkansas does permit physical punishment "under controlled conditions" in Day Care Centers and Family Day Care Homes (Gwen Morgan, Work Family Directions, "The National State of Child Care Regulation 1996").

The National Education Association, the nation's largest organization of teachers, finally dropped its opposition to ending corporal punishment by teachers. However, state NEA's continue to be among the most important opponents of such legislation.

Arkansas legislation differentiating child abuse from corporal punishment executed by teachers and others with care and supervision of minors permits "reasonable and appropriate physical force when and to the extent reasonably necessary to maintain discipline or promote the welfare of the child." Sec. 5-2-605 (1). [Cr.] There is no evidence that hitting a child maintains "discipline" (that is, long-term) and nothing supports the notion that pain and humiliation promote the welfare of children.

Corporal punishment contributes to a climate of violence, implies that society approves of the physical violation of children, and establishes an unhealthy norm.

We are in a "State of Disgrace." It's an outrage … an embarrassment.

data source: The Center for Effective Discipline, Columbus, Ohio.