Legislation passed during the 2011 session of the North Carolina General Assembly requires school districts that have not yet banned corporal punishment to send a form to all parents at the beginning of the school year allowing them to opt their children out of corporal punishment. The new law expands legislation passed in 2010 that allowed parents of children with disabilities to opt out of corporal punishment.
The new legislation became effective at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year, and school districts still allowing corporal punishment should have sent the required form to all parents.
Vance County schools have already banned Corporal Punishment in public schools. Nearby Person and Halifax counties have not banned it.
Eighteen additional school districts have banned the use of corporal punishment in school since the passage of a new state law this summer that allows parents to opt their children out of receiving corporal punishment, according to a report released today by Action for Children North Carolina, a statewide nonpartisan, nonprofit child advocacy organization. The 18 districts join 70 other North Carolina school districts that had already banned corporal punishment.
Though corporal punishment in school is still allowed under state law, only 27 local school districts – out of 115 – still have the practice on the books. Of the 27 districts that have not yet banned corporal punishment, only 15 have used the practice in recent years.
“These data demonstrate that, thanks to the new opt-out law, corporal punishment is finally on its way out of North Carolina schools,” said Barb Bradley, President & CEO of Action for Children. “Educators across the state are putting into policy what we have long known from the research: corporal punishment is not effective at changing students’ behavior or improving educational performance, and it can negatively affect their development.”
Several other school districts’ policies are currently in flux, as superintendents and local school boards make plans to ban a practice that has been discredited by research. Neither the State Superintendent of Public Instruction nor the State Board of Education endorses corporal punishment. Both have endorsed Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS), a system of school discipline which involves both students and parents in setting goals for positive behavior that is currently in use in hundreds of schools across the state.
Survey data collected by Action for Children over the last few years show that incidences of corporal punishment have declined. Recent data collected by the Department of Public Instruction from districts across the state show that corporal punishment was administered 891 times during the 2010-11 school year.
A survey of school districts conducted this month by Action for Children found that of the 27 school districts that have not yet banned corporal punishment, only 16 have complied with the new state law that requires districts to give parents the opportunity to opt their children out of corporal punishment. A few districts failed to respond to repeated requests for information.
“We are concerned that some of the districts that still allow corporal punishment do not seem to have distributed the opt-out form to parents as required by the new state law,” said Bradley. “Many districts’ policies are currently being reconsidered, which is progress, but in the meantime, parents must be informed of their new right to opt their children out of corporal punishment.”
Corporal punishment in school is banned in all developed countries (and most developing countries) except the United States. Corporal punishment is banned in the U.S. military and in the nation’s prisons and jails. Most U.S. states have banned the practice. North Carolina is one of just 20 states that still allow corporal punishment in school.
The newly released report, Corporal Punishment in the Public Schools: A Practice on the Decline, includes an Appendix outlining district-specific policies and practices. It is available on the Action for Children website at: www.ncchild.org.