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SPLC Action Fund Urges Swift Passage of Protecting Our Students in Schools Act

Bill Introduced by U.S. Representative A. Donald McEachin Creates Nationwide Ban on School-based Corporal Punishment 

NATIONAL – The Protecting Our Students in Schools Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today by Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-District 4) and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-District 1). If passed, the legislation would provide a sweeping ban on the practice of corporal punishment in any school that receives federal funding. It would also establish a series of important enforcement protections for students who have been violated and a grant program to assist school districts in offering positive and proactive alternatives to harmful school discipline. 

The following statement is by Regional Policy Analyst for the SPLC Action Fund Katherine Dunn: 

“It is unfathomable that any student would be struck in school for any reason as a form of discipline. But that is what hundreds of students experience each day in public schools in states where corporal punishment is still permitted. Tragically, Black students and students with disabilities disproportionately bear the brunt of this abusive, counterproductive practice. It must end now. 

“The SPLC Action Fund fully supports the Protecting Our Students in Schools Act, which will eliminate corporal punishment in schools that receive federal funding. And we urge swift passage in Congress.”

Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the UCLA Center for Civil Rights Remedies offered the clearest examination to date of corporal punishment in the U.S. in a report titled, The Striking Outlier: The Persistent, Painful and Problematic Practice of Corporal Punishment in Schools

The report found that at least one in every 20 children attending schools that practice corporal punishment were struck during the 2013-14 and 2015-16 academic years. Black boys were twice as likely to receive corporal punishment as white boys, and black girls were three times as likely as white girls to be subjected to the practice. In more than half of the schools that practice corporal punishment, students with disabilities were struck at higher rates than students without disabilities, according to the report.  The report notes that corporal punishment should be banned in schools because it is not only not educationally necessary – it can be harmful to a student’s learning.

Even though corporal punishment is illegal in most states, the practice remains deeply entrenched in the South. In The Striking Outlier, researchers reported that ten southern states accounted for more than three-quarters of all corporal punishment in public schools. Just four of those states – Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas – made up more than 70 percent.