On November 12, the Thomasville City School Board voted unanimously to prohibit the use of corporal punishment in the district’s schools. Thomasville becomes the 100th local district (of 115) to prohibit the practice, a source of elation among advocates who have been working on this issue for almost three decades.
In 1985, the NC General Assembly gave local school district boards the authority to allow or to prohibit the use of corporal punishment, which is defined as the intentional infliction of pain upon the body of a student as a disciplinary measure. Thus began a long and arduous campaign by a large coalition of advocates to convince local district boards to abandon the practice, which studies show does not improve academic performance, but does in many cases lead to students’ alienation and in some cases aggression.
Of the 15 local districts that still allow corporal punishment, nine have not actually used the practice in years. These include: Allegheny; Ashe; Alexander; Bladen; Caswell; Macon; Person; Randolph; Stanly. It is unclear why corporal punishment has not been formally prohibited in these districts.
Of the six districts that used corporal punishment during the 2012-2013 school year, only Graham (31 times) and Robeson (141 times) used the practice more than rarely. The remaining four are: Swain (6); Madison (1); McDowell (1); Onslow (1).
Since the NC General Assembly has declined to adopt a statewide prohibition, the locally-focused campaign to protect students from school officials will continue.