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Students Still Paddled in Schools, Study Finds

September 09, 1987|United Press International

NEW YORK — An estimated 2 million incidents of paddling, ear-twisting, hair-pulling and other forms of corporal punishment occur in the nation's schools annually, a report said Monday.

But the report also said that, nationwide, corporal punishment is declining slightly and that major professional organizations have adopted resolutions against it, including the American Medical Assn. and the American Psychological Assn.

California, eight other states and Puerto Rico have banned corporal punishment and a 10th state has severely limited it, but some states have not taken a legal stand on the issue, said the "Report Card for Parents: Corporal Punishment in America's Schools."

The report was conducted by Temple University's National Center for the Study of Corporal Punishment and Alternatives in the Schools, and an account of the study was published in the September issue of Children magazine, published in Emmaus, Pa.

Paddling Most Common

"Paddling a student on the buttocks is the most common technique in corporal punishment, and many school districts issue 'regulation' paddles," said the article written by Irwin Hyman, an education psychologist who heads the center in Philadelphia.

Corporal punishment also includes pinching, ear-twisting, hair-pulling, knuckle-rapping, punching and shoving, he said. Other forms range from forcing students to assume physically painful positions to making them exercise to exhaustion.

"The '10 top swatters' among the states are Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Missouri and Kentucky," Hyman said.

He also said corporal punishment has been outlawed in California, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico. In addition, Maryland has laws that severely limit corporal punishment in schools.

Major cities that have banned corporal punishment in school include Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington and San Francisco, the report said.

Hyman's estimate of 2 million incidents of corporal punishment annually is a projection that he considers conservative. "It is a projection based on cases of physical discipline reported by schools to the U.S. Office of Civil Rights every two years," he said.

"The most recent survey of schools' report from that office with corporal punishment statistics was in 1986, and it reported 1,332,314 incidents," down from about 1.5 million incidents about 10 years ago, Hyman said.

Noting that cases must be witnessed to be reported, Hyman said, "No one knows the actual number of cases in the schools beyond the 1.3 million. Since not all the cases are witnessed or reported, my estimate of 2 million is, I believe, conservative."

Hyman said that his estimate includes Catholic and other Christian schools, including fundamentalist sects, but that such schools do not report corporal punishment incidents to the Office of Civil Rights.

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