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

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

19
An Analysis of Editorial Opinion Regarding Corporal Punishment: An Analysis of Editorial OpinionSome Dynamics of Regional Differences

Eileen McDowell
Robert H. Friedman

April 19, 1978, is the first anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision regarding the corporal punishment of schoolchildren ( Ingraham v. Wright, 1977). One year ago, the majority of Supreme Court justices claimed that corporal punishment does not violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. This landmark decision provoked debate between and within various sectors of society. Child advocates felt that it thwarted their movement toward upholding children's rights as citizens. Many parents felt that it denied them absolute domain in the disciplining of their children. Some teachers claimed that they deserved this added measure of protection. Others felt that it was a necessary step if we were to return to basic educational procedures. Even those students who were being punished corporally were divided on this issue.

While anecdotal evidence clearly is indicative of a division in public sentiment, a systematic investigation appeared to be warranted. The present authors undertook the task of analyzing opinion throughout the country. During an effort to sample these opinions, it was discovered that editorial opinion is often thought to be a barometer of public thinking on sensitive issues. Therefore, a decision was made to collect and analyze editorial opinion throughout the country which related to the landmark Supreme Court decision. Further, it was felt that a regional analysis would allow for the integration of findings on the opinion with other information related to variations throughout the regions.

This essay was presented as a paper at the annual meeting of the National Association of School Psychologists, New York City, March 23-26, 1978.

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