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Corporal Punishment On Wane In Arkansas Schools

on 2001/2/13 8:47:02 ( 1503 reads )


SPRINGDALE, ARKANSAS, USA, February 11, 2001: Jim Lewis got his share of "licks" with a paddle when he was a student in public school. Now that he's a principal himself, he paddles students only on rare occasions and as a last resort. "Most principals now are far from the disciplinarians that principals used to be," said Lewis, principal at George Elementary in Springdale. He uses his wooden paddle about four times a school year and only with parents' consent. The principal was reluctant even to talk about paddling, since it's such a small a part of what goes on in his school. "It's not who I am," he said. Instead of giving licks, Lewis likes to work with the child and his parents on behavior changes when discipline problems arise. "Paddlings and spankings are usually short-term fixes," he said. Arkansas is one of 23 states in America that still allow corporal punishment in its public schools. Twenty-seven states have now banned the practice, up from five states in 1986. The Arkansas Board of Education adopted a resolution in 1993 urging school districts to pass policies against corporal punishment, saying such punishment wasn't in line with national education goals. Jim Argue, a Democratic representative for Little Rock, said "It represents a rural, male-dominated culture that sees corporal punishment as an acceptable tool of discipline." Argue said he's in the minority as a lawmaker against the practice. He decided to stop spanking his own children after punishing his young daughter one day. His daughter wondered aloud why he would hit her as punishment for hitting her sister. The irony struck him. "She kind of taught me a lesson," he said. "I don't think violence is a good tool [to encourage] nonviolence." "We discourage it," said Hartzell Jones, deputy superintendent for personnel in the Springdale School District. "But some people don't think a good spanking is child abuse. They think the Bible supports that." Many education groups and professional psychiatric and psychology taken the position that corporal punishment perpetuates a cycle of abuse.

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