Corporal Punishment is banned in many states, but sadly not all. Statistics show that the children receiving this type of punishment are disproportionately children of color and children with special needs.
Together We Stand, a national organization of over 1,500 people dedicated to racial equality and social justice is asking that you sign this much needed petition. We are deeply concerned about recent news from Rockdale County Public School District where school staff allegedly hung a young African American boy with special needs from his belt loops at the top of the chalkboard at Shoal Creek Elementary School. The child was reported to be in great distress evidenced by his screaming, which caused an administrator to enter the classroom. It is also reported that this incident is not the first time this significantly inappropriate punishment has occurred by staff.
The use of corporal punishment has been banned from public schools in all but 19 U.S. states to date, due to significant developmental, psychological and physical concerns related to the use of physical punishment with children. The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights documented that approximately 167,000 students received physical punishment in the 2011-12 school year with over 70% occurring in Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia. Of these children, it is documented that physical punishment is administered disproportionately to children who are African American, male and/or receiving Special Education Services. (ocrdata.ed.gov) This data is concerning as it suggests that racial and gender bias influence educators and administrators who use corporal punishment and that our most vulnerable children are most likely to be abused at the hands of educators. Resulting, this bias moves the conversation beyond whether corporal punishment is an appropriate disciplinary strategy and raises questions related to the civil rights for children of color and children who qualify for special education services.
Nationally, many professional organizations with expertise related to children and their development have taken a stand against the use of corporal punishment. These organizations include, but are not limited to, the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, National Association for the Education of Young Children, American School Counselor Association, National Association of School Psychologists, and the American Public Health Association. These organizations are in good company with social justice organizations such as UNICEF, UNESCO, Human Rights Committee, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We wholeheartedly agree with this statement made by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): “Corporal punishment -- most often, paddling -- can cause deep bruising or other lasting physical or mental injury. Furthermore, it creates a violent, degrading school environment in which all students -- and particularly students with disabilities -- may struggle to succeed. The use of corporal punishment in US public schools must end. There are positive, non-violent approaches to school discipline that have been proven to lead to safe environments in which children can learn.” (www.aclu.org)
We ask that you take the proper steps to
ensure a full and unbiased assessment and investigation occurs to hold the staff involved accountable to their actions. In addition, we hope you will take this opportunity to engage your system to include administration, teachers, paraprofessionals and staff in comprehensive education and training related to racial equity and developmentally appropriate disciplinary strategies. This type of systemic intervention will allow all students attending the Georgia Public Schools an opportunity for a safe and equal education. Lastly, we ask that you do all that is in your power to ban corporal punishment in the state of Georgia.