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Corporal Punishment in American Education: Readings in History, Practice, and Alternatives

By Irwin A. Hyman; James H. Wise | Go to book overview

9
Corporal Punishment in the Schools: A Descriptive Survey of State Regulations

Robert H. Friedman Irwin A. Hyman

"Spare the rod and spoil the child" has been a philosophy of child rearing strongly held by both professional educators and laymen. Historical reports are replete with representations of disciplinary measures which relied on physical punishment ( Manning, 1959).

Today, those feelings continue to be securely embedded in the minds of what is probably a large percentage of educators, students, and laymen. Newspaper reports provide us with glaring examples of public approval of corporal punishment. In an editorial supporting the Supreme Court decision on Ingraham v. Wright, a West Virginia newspaper describes children as being "born into this world as wild and unruly little animals who have to be trained in order to fit into a civilized society" (Martinsburg Journal, 1977). In Virginia, a newspaper took an informal poll of its readers to determine the local attitude toward corporal punishment. The results of their survey showed an equal number both for and against the practice (Norfolk Star Ledger, 1977).

It does not appear that the Court's intention was either to condone or to encourage the use of corporal punishment. In effect, the Court merely preserved the rights of states to develop their own rules and regulations regarding the disciplining of school children. If they wish, state lawmakers may reject corporal punishment entirely. Or they may write legislation which permits, or in some way restricts, the extent of its imposition. Regardless, the Supreme Court decision was a reaffirmation of the power of

This is an edited version of an essay which appeared in Proceedings: Conference on Corporal Punishment in the Schools, National Institute of Education, 1977.

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