Education Secretary Calls For Schools To Stop ‘Spanking’ Students

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Education Secretary Calls For Schools To Stop ‘Spanking’ Students

Reagan Reese on March 24, 2023

Department of Education (ED) Secretary Miguel Cardona is urging schools to stop “spanking” students, calling for the end of corporal punishment, according to a Friday letter.

In a letter to state governors and school administration, Cardona noted that in 23 states corporal punishment, a physical beating including spanking and paddling, is either allowed or not explicitly prohibited in an educational setting. The punishment leads to a higher rate of mental health issues and school leaders must condemn it, Cardona wrote.

“Unfortunately, some schools continue to put the mental and physical well-being of students at risk by implementing the practice of corporal punishment, defined by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) as the practice of paddling, spanking, or otherwise imposing physical punishment on students,” Cardona wrote. “Therefore, if the use of corporal punishment is permitted or practiced in schools and educational settings within your state or district, I urge you to move swiftly toward condemning and eliminating it.”

Educators are more likely to use corporal punishment on boys, disabled students and children of color, Cardona wrote. Students of color are 2.3 times more likely to receive a spanking or paddling at school, the Secretary said.

The form of punishment can lead to “serious pain and injury” as well as mental health issues such as higher rates of aggression, antisocial behavior and personality disorders, the letter stated. Cardona argued that spanking can have “long-term implications in early childhood development” and can stunt children’s academic growth.

Around the country, parents are pushing back at school board meetings over the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and gender identity policies; in Idaho, a school board cancelled its gender identity policy which allowed students to use bathrooms on the basis of gender identity rather than biological sex. After flipping to a conservative majority, a California school board voted prohibit teachers from giving CRT lessons.

“Schools should be safe places where all students and educators interact in positive ways that foster students’ growth, belonging and dignity—not places that teach or exacerbate violence and fear,” Cardona wrote. “Let’s all work together to move away from this harmful practice and to create learning environments that are safe and supportive for all students.”

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