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Just six school districts hit students in 2012-2013 school year

RALEIGH— The use of corporal punishment in the public schools continues to decline, according to a survey report released today by Action for Children North Carolina. “During the 2012-2013 school year, students were hit in just six local school districts for a total of 184 times,” said Tom Vitaglione, Senior Fellow with the advocacy group.

 “This is a far cry from more than two decades ago, when virtually all of the 115 local districts used corporal punishment and thousands of students were hit annually,” said Vitaglione. The report indicates that the use of corporal punishment has dropped by 80 percent in the last two years.

“The dramatic decline is a response to a growing body of research that has found no academic benefit to hitting students,” said Vitaglione. “In fact, as districts have dropped the practice, graduation rates and end-of-year test scores continue to improve. Districts have switched to other methods of discipline that are associated with positive academic outcomes. The most popular of these is Positive Behavior Intervention and Support.”

Leading the state was Robeson County, which used corporal punishment 141 times last school year, representing 76% of the total statewide. Vitaglione noted that “Even in Robeson, corporal punishment has declined by 50 percent in the last two years. We remain hopeful that the community will soon signal school officials to drop the practice.”

The report indicates that the statutory definition of corporal punishment is “the intentional infliction of pain upon the body of a student as a disciplinary measure.” There are no restrictions on the implement used to inflict pain, nor the number of times a student may be struck, except that the student should “not require medical attention beyond simple first aid.”  Vitaglione said, “With regard to all the statutes that affect children, this one is perhaps the most grisly.”

The report lists the six districts that used corporal punishment, along with the number of times it was used. In 99 districts, the practice has been formally banned. In ten districts (also listed), the practice is allowed but has not been used in years.

The report also notes that numerous organizations, including the State Board of Education are formally opposed to corporal punishment in the public schools, and no groups actively support its use.

Click here to view the fact sheet. 

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