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School district adds 'opt-in' corporal punishment as advocates call for an end to the practice

students high school corporal punishment
Posted at 6:20 PM, Aug 25, 2022

A Missouri school district announced that it will be reinstating an "opt-in" policy on corporal punishing citing a parent survey on punishment that lead to the decision.

“One of the suggestions that came out was concerns about student discipline,” said Dr. Merlyn Johnson, a superintendent in Missouri. “So we reacted by implementing several different strategies, corporal punishment being one of them,” he said.

According to theAmerican Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), corporal punishment for student infractions is legal in 19 states.

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming all have laws which allow for corporal punishment.

The academy describes corporal punishment as a "discipline method in which a supervising adult deliberately inflicts pain upon a child in response to a child's unacceptable behavior and/or inappropriate language."

The AACAP have joined groups like the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, the American Bar Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and others in calling for an end to the practice saying research has shown it may be harmful.

The AACAP cited a report showing that corporal punishment has been found to "occur more frequently with students who are male, poor, and ethnic minority" and encourages "non-violent methods of addressing inappropriate behavior in schools, such as behavior management and school-wide positive behavior supports."

Johnson said, ”It’s something we don’t anticipate using frequently.” He told KTYV, “This is an opt-in only option for parents, so anyone who disagrees with corporal punishment, they simply do nothing by not opting in.”

Kimberly Richardson, a parent of a student in Missouri said, ”Like in school suspension that would be fine with me,” she said. “Or even out of school suspensions. Those are just way better than corporal punishment.”