If parents are repulsed when corporeal punishment occurs in school, then why aren't they repulsed when it occurs at home?
A Kansas lawmaker's legislation that would allow school officials to spank children, hard enough to leave "redness or swelling," has been defeated in a state House committee.
The bill proposal outraged many who described it as "condoning child abuse." But there is a glaring inconsistency. Although most parents disapprove of spanking in schools, they approve of spanking at home.
Logically, shouldn't parents either support or oppose spanking, regardless of whether it occurs in a controlled environment like a school or inside the privacy of a home?
One ABC News poll found that 65 percent of Americans approve of parents spanking children, with a whopping half of parents admitting to spanking their own kids. But a mere 26 percent of parents believe grade-school teachers should be allowed to spank kids at school.
Kansas, along with 18 other states, still permit spanking in public schools. According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights, in 2006 alone, a staggering 223,190 student were physically punished in schools. Many parents would cringe at those numbers, but wouldn't bat an eyelash knowing that, annually; millions of children are disciplinarily spanked in the home.
Parents are certainly more wary of school administrators disciplining their kids because they trust themselves more than schools; they perceive the potential for sexual or physical abuse, and psychological damage from lasting public humiliation, as greater in a school environment.
But one could also argue that the possibility of abuse is less likely in a school because it is an environment with greater oversight and accountability, when compared to the privacy and isolation of a home.
Child abuse aside, the potential harm of spanking should not be overlooked.
According to the American Psychological Association, a growing body of research shows "that spanking... can pose serious risks to children... including... increased aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injury and mental health problems for children." Some experts, including Dr. Phil, however, indicate that mild spanking, coupled with reasoning and time-outs, can be effective in 2-6 year old's.
To protect child rights, and in light of research demonstrating the ineffectiveness of corporeal punishment, to date, 35 countries have banned physical punishment of children, even in the home.
The United States of course has a strong tradition of allowing parents to control the methods of upbringing their children. Spanking will remain legal, but if parents are critical of corporeal punishment in schools perhaps they should be critical of it at home too.