Groups push for ban on school spankings

Posted by: Sally Pitts - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The new school year is less than a week old and several groups are already in full swing to stop the possibility of corporal punishment those children might face. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Watch are pushing for a moratorium on the punishment calling it "abuse" and "a violation on students' rights to a decent education."

Alabama is one of 20 states that still allows paddling as a form of punishment. Paddling - or corporal punishment as it's called - is just one form of discipline Montgomery County educators can use. Schools Spokesperson Tom Salter says the system has a lot restrictions when it comes to paddling.  Those restrictions include, "Witnesses to the event, it can't be done in front of other students, has to be with specific types of paddles," said Salter.

It's not used that much. Fewer than 500 of the Montgomery Public School System's 31,000 students were paddled during the 2008-2009 school year. That's less than 2%, but the American Civil Liberties Union says that's still too many paddlings.  The ACLU and Human Rights Watch just released a report that shows Alabama has the third-highest rate of corporal punishment in the nation. The report also says students with disabilities face corporal punishment at higher rates. Now the two organizations are calling for a ban on physical punishment in public schools.  Nikki Cox with the ACLU told WSFA 12 News, "There are much better forms of punishment we think educators should be focused on."

In Montgomery Public Schools, parents who do not want their child paddled can send a letter to the school and that child will not be paddled.