Corporal punishment use continues decline in NC

  • Posted: Monday, October 7, 2013 12:24 p.m.

RALEIGH (AP) — The use of corporal punishment in North Carolina’s public schools continues to decline, with students in six districts hit 184 times in the most recent school year, according to a study released Monday by a child advocacy group.

Students in Robeson County are hit the most, with 141 uses of corporal punishment there in the 2012-2013 school year, Action for Children North Carolina said in a news release. That represents 76 percent of the total statewide.

“Even in Robeson, corporal punishment has declined by 50 percent in the last two years,” said Tom Vitaglione, senior fellow with the advocacy group. “We remain hopeful that the community will soon signal school officials to drop the practice.”

A spokeswoman for the Robeson County schools said she hadn’t seen the study. She said someone would respond after reading the study.

Other districts that use corporal punishment are Graham, Swain, Madison, McDowell and Onslow. Action for Children North Carolina said 10 other districts that allow corporal punishment have not used it in years — Alleghany, Alexander, Ashe, Bladen, Caswell, Macon, Person, Randolph, Stanly and Thomasville.

Local boards in 99 districts prohibit corporal punishment.

In 2011-2012, schools used corporal punishment 404 times, down from 891 instances the previous year. Two decades ago, almost all of the 115 school districts used corporal punishment, and thousands of students were hit each year, Vitaglione said.

“The dramatic decline is a response to a growing body of research that has found no academic benefit to hitting students,” he said.

The statutory definition of corporal punishment is “the intentional infliction of pain upon the body of a student as a disciplinary measure.” Other than stating that the student shouldn’t require medical attention behind simple first aid, the law has no other restrictions, Vitaglione said.

“With regard to all the statutes that affect children, this one is perhaps the most grisly,” he said.

Among the groups that support the end of corporal punishment in North Carolina’s public schools are the State Board of Education and the N.C. Association of Educators.

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