- Pulling ears
- Hitting with rulers, belts, wooden spoons, extension cords, slippers, hairbrushes, pins, sticks, whips, rubber hoses, flyswatters, wire hangers, stones, bats, canes, or paddles
- Forcing a child to stand for a long time
- Forcing a child to stay in an uncomfortable position
- Forcing a child to stand motionless
- Forcing a child to kneel on rice, corn, floor grates, pencils or stones
- Forcing a child to retain body wastes
- Forcing a child to perform strenuous exercise
- Forcing a child to ingest soap, hot sauce, or lemon juice
All of these are examples of corporal punishment.
All corporal punishment is child abuse, and child abuse teaches students nothing. 19 states in the U.S. still allow corporal punishment in their schools, and this must stop now.
“Bullying is enough of a problem among students; the teachers shouldn’t be doing it, too. There’s nothing positive or productive about corporal punishment and it should be discouraged everywhere.” Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)
Anytime a young person is treated this way they are being abused. These forms of abuse are the cruelest, most unjust, and most ineffective treatment young people can receive. While including both, corporal punishment goes beyond adultism, beyond adultcentrism, and straight to child abuse.
The most basic right of any person today is the right to live in peace.
While that may sound simplistic or naive, violence is a daily reality for almost every young person in the world today. Physical violence—war, family abuse, bullying, and gang violence; mental abuse—parental abuse, teacher abuse, or verbal put-downs— and child neglect surround young people. These are all forms of violence. The institutions that are purportedly supposed to support our children and youth, places like schools, hospitals, and governments, abuse young people. In their homes young people face violence through popular media, like television shows, movies, pop music, and video games. And violence surrounds young people in many ways that we don’t see, seeping into everyone’s hearts and minds without us being aware of it: another bombing overseas, another vicious attack on public funding, another slander against youth in the news.
This abuse adds up. According to a United Nations study,
“Corporal punishment of adults is prohibited in well over half the world’s countries, yet only 15 of the 190-plus nations have prohibited all corporal punishment of children, including in the family.”
It’s a statistic like this that leaves little wonder in my mind about why young people appear “apathetic” and “disenchanted” with a world so intent on numbing them to pain, hatred, cynicism and violence.
Luckily, our North American eyes are beginning to fully comprehend the imperative any ethical person faces when dealing with the situation of young people and violence today. We are beginning to stand with young people to change the situations that they face, and the situations our world faces. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) boldly declares that,
“Young people must be meaningfully involved in promoting and strategizing action on violence against children… Children… need to be well informed about their rights, and fully involved in the life of the [community and] school…”
This call situates corporal punishment as a fully-authorized premise for social action in 198 countries around the world—minus the US and Somalia, who are the only non-signatory countries. Canada and Mexico have signed on. There is no other convention, consensus, or constitution in the world that is more widely accepted than the CRC. So the vast majority of global governments agree that corporal punishment is a significant premise for social change, and we agree that young people should help lead anti-abuse efforts.
I believe that corporal punishment is the root of all discrimination in society. Premised on the hatred of young people, on adultism, on the self- and cultural repression of childhood, corporal punishment is made worse through dozens of other factors, including socio-economic class, gender, race, ethnicity, and more… Corporal punishment is at the heart of all this.
Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act
In 2010, Representative Carolyn McCarthy, a Democrat from New York, introduced a bill called “Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act” in the US House of Representatives. The bill would impose a ban on all public and private schools with students that receive federal services. Learn more about the bill, and support it. I do.
Stop beating kids.
You Might Like…
- A good summary of the bill in the Washington Post blog.
- A tracker showing where the bill is in the House.
- A CRIN article about the bill.
- An ACLU petition to encourage Congress to pass the bill.
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