Why are we still hitting children in North Carolina schools?

January 2013

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Two decades ago, most school districts in North Carolina allowed the use of corporal punishment as an acceptable form of student discipline. New data released by the Department of Public Instruction earlier this month shows that corporal punishment is now on the decline. Twelve school districts used corporal punishment last year–three of which have since banned the practice.

The consensus among child development researchers (see herehere or here) is that corporal punishment does not improve student behavior or overall academic outcomes. Research has shown physical punishment during childhood is associated with increased aggression as adults, and education experts link spanking in schools to a climate of fear that can lead to increased absenteeism, truancy and risk of dropping out of school.

Although most students in North Carolina live in districts that no longer allow the outdated, ineffective practice of hitting students, about 100,000 students across the state attend schools in districts that continue to allow corporal punishment.

Next week, the North Carolina State Board of Education, at the request of Board member John Tate, will consider whether to submit a recommendation to the North Carolina General Assembly and all 115 local school boards to ban the use of corporal punishment in public schools. If approved, the recommendation would send a message that the State Board encourages local districts to provide the safe learning environments that all students need to succeed. To that end, a number of evidence-based, proactive strategies exist, like the Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS), initiative which have been shown to reduce school discipline referrals and improve academic outcomes.

Parents, and other caregivers, are encouraged to contact the Board member in their education district and voice their support for the  Board resolution against corporal punishment in North Carolina schools before February 4, 2013.

To learn more about corporal punishment in North Carolina schools, view these previous publications by Action for Children North Carolina: