Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Where discipline stings

In Brown, Adams counties, punishment is more than words

By Meagan Pollnow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Corporal punishment has fallen from favor or is banned in most Ohio school districts, but in Brown and Adams counties, old-fashioned values have kept the practice alive in some schools.

Two districts in those counties ranked second and third for the most paddlings in Ohio, according to data compiled for the 2002-03 school year.

Eighty-three paddlings involving 70 students were reported in the Western Brown Local District in Brown County. It was the second highest number of paddlings among all Ohio districts that allow corporal punishment.

Seventy-nine paddlings involving 76 students were reported in the Adams County/Ohio Valley Local district, up from 65 in the previous school year when the district first instituted the policy, according to Linda Stepp, state and federal coordinator for the district.

The only other Greater Cincinnati district to report a student paddling for that school year was Franklin, in Warren County. Only one paddling occurred there.

"It is an acceptable form of punishment," Stepp said. "Obviously the fact that parents have to give permission, gives some indication of their feelings."

Nadine Block, director of the Center for Effective Discipline, said 28 states have banned corporal punishment, and she would like to see Ohio do the same.

"Ohio needs to end corporal punishment in public schools," Block said. "Kids are afraid to go to school and hate school.

"There's no research to support corporal punishment," she added.

The National Education Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Bar Association all oppose corporal punishment.

All states east of Ohio have banned paddling, but the practice continues in other states such as Texas, Florida and Tennessee, according to Block.

To administer corporal punishment, or paddling, the parents must fill out a consent form, according to Western Brown Superintendent Jeffery Royalty. School administrators must have another official present when paddling students.

Royalty said paddling has been an accepted form of punishment in schools and homes for many years in his area.

"We're in a rural district, I guess you might say there are some old-fashioned values," Royalty said. "This may be a carryover of that."

Roy Hill, superintendent at the Fayetteville-Perry Local School District in Brown County, where 23 paddlings occurred last year, said the decision to paddle students is left up to parents.

"I think that the folks here prefer a more traditional method of discipline but we have lots of other methods (of discipline) in our tool box," Hill said. "I'm sure there is a group out there opposed to it, but we give our parents the chance to opt out of it."

Corporal punishment is allowed in Kentucky, but no paddlings were reported in Boone, Kenton and Campbell county school districts the past three years, according to the state education department.

Paddling still used

These Ohio school districts reported administering at least 20 paddlings to students during the 2002-03 school year:

Western Local (Pike County): 156

Western Brown Local (Brown County): 83

Adams County/Ohio Valley Local: 79

South Point Local (Lawrence County): 74

Canton City: 42

Morgan Local (Morgan County): 27

Fayetteville-Perry (Brown County): 23

Bloom-Vernon Local Schools (Scioto County): 21

Source: Center for Effective Discipline

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