Tennessee's school spanking bill is dodgeball

Johnson City Press • Apr 14, 2018 at 8:15 AM

Why is Tennessee still messing around with corporal punishment in schools?

Sure, the state House just a passed a bill that would restrict the use of corporal punishment against students with disabilities.The key word here is “restrict.” It’s not an outright ban.

The amended bill, which passed the House 81-1-1, allows for schools to spank a special needs child if a parent signs off on the whoopin’. So, the bill now has no teeth.

One step forward. One step back.

Legislators are dodging the real issue. It’s beyond understanding why any lawmaker or educator would think that violence would solve a behavioral problem in a school — for any student, not just those with disabilities.

If it’s not OK to paddle one child, it’s not OK to paddle another.

As schools teach students to solve their own conflicts peacefully, some educators still choose to solve the school’s problems with violence — with weapons no less. Talk about mixed messages.

National studies show corporal punishment does more harm than good. It is not an effective deterrent, stunts child development and impairs learning. Educators who practice it risk injuring a child and put themselves and their districts in jeopardy for litigation.

Yet somehow, most Tennessee school districts still allow the archaic practice, while 28 entire states do not. Our own state Sen. Rusty Crowe thinks that’s OK because of the state’s “cultural diversity.” Nonsense. As we stated in February, Tennessee schools should get out of the paddling business altogether. Leave those decisions in the home — between parent and child and within the confines of abuse prevention. No child should be inflicted with injury at school or home.

The state Senate should pull the parental permission provision out of the House special needs bill. Both houses of the Legislature should get back to work and totally ban corporal punishment — no ifs, ands or butts.

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