Anti-corporal punishment group demands alternative discipline

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Being paddled in school may seem like an antiquated form of discipline, but corporal punishment is still legal in 20 states.

In the 2005-06 school year, about 50,000 Texas school children were physically punished in schools, according to the latest numbers from the Center for Effective Discipline. Texas leads the nation in instances of corporal punishment.

As the Ban Corporal Punishment in Schools Act struggles to get support in the U.S. Congress, members and supporters of The Hitting Stops Here!, a group that opposes corporal punishment in schools, rallied in front of the Texas State Capitol on Monday.

“The majority of school districts [in Texas] have language that permit corporal punishment,” said Barbara Williams, spokeswoman for the Texas Association of School Boards. “In practice, there is not as good of a way to say which ones actually use corporal punishment.”

No state law requires administrators to use corporal punishment or prohibits its use, leaving it up to local school districts to decide which disciplinary measures to use, she said.

Cynthia Huong-Davis, a mother of two young children, said the physical discipline will negatively affect children’s emotional well-being. People may support corporal punishment because that is how they were raised, she said.

“We have done a lot of stuff in the past that we now know is not good,” said Huong-Davis, who participated in the rally. “We used to let our children ride in the front seat, and now we know that is not safe. A lot of people just don’t know there are more effective ways of disciplining our children.”

Rally organizer Paula Flowe, who is from New York, has traveled around the country to gain support for federal legislation. She said the prospects of the bill becoming law look grim after last week’s election results.

“Not one Republican supports it, and now that Republicans have taken over the House, it is expected to die,” Flowe said.

The bill is currently supported by 16 of the necessary 24 members in the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor to keep the bill afloat.

“It’s a sad reality, but there is no reason why anyone should allow any child of any color under any circumstances to be abused, and this is what is going on in our country and it is being hidden by major news media,” she said.