ACLU Seeks to Ban Physical Discipline in Schools


Students with disabilities face corporal punishment in public schools at disproportionately high rates, says a report released Aug. 10 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Human Rights Watch. This is one of the reasons why both organizations are seeking to have physical discipline in schools outlawed.

In the 70-page report, “Impairing Education: Corporal Punishment of Students with Disabilities in U.S. Public Schools,” the organizations found that students with disabilities made up 18.8 percent of students who were physically disciplined at school during the 2006-2007 school year, although they constituted just 13.7 percent of the total nationwide student population.

Currently, 20 states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming, permit some form of physical discipline of students by schools. The most common form of punishment is paddling.

According to the report, however, some students have been physically abused for conduct related to their disabilities, including students with Tourette syndrome being punished for exhibiting involuntary tics and students with autism being punished for repetitive behaviors such as rocking. The report goes on to claim that in some cases, corporal punishment against students with disabilities led to a worsening of their conditions. For instance, some parents reported that students with autism became violent toward themselves or others following corporal punishment.

The ACLU and Human Rights Watch say that the use of physical discipline is a violation of international human rights law.

To read the full report, click here.

To read the press release, click here.

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Tagged with: Student Discipline

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