• Student challenges corporal punishment law

    Date: 03.02.10 | by Judge Tom.

    William Cody Childress is a student at Independence High School in Mississippi. While in class in September, 2009, the 16-year-old looked at a picture on a camera brought to school by another student. For this violation he was paddled twice, allegedly with excessive force. The girl who brought the camera was not disciplined.

    When William got home from school that day, his mother took him to the hospital and called the local sheriff’s office.  He claimed that it hurt to sit down or use the bathroom.  In February, 2010, William and his mother filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that the corporal punishment law in Mississippi is unfairly applied based on gender and race. They seek a declaration that corporal punishment of students is unconstitutional.

    Mississippi is one of several states that authorize physical punishment of students. Approximately 30 states have banned the practice and others that allow it by law, rarely use this method of discipline. The U.S. Supreme Court has approved corporal punishment, leaving the matter up to individual states.

    U.S. Department of Education statistics show that during the 2006-2007 school year, more than 220,000 students in the United States were paddled. The majority of those students live in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas. Williams asserts that 75% of students paddled in Mississippi are boys and that black students are paddled at disproportionate rates.

    In March, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education reported that minority students across America face harsher discipline than non-minorities, even in the same school. African American and Hispanic students make up almost three-fourths of the students involved in school-related arrests or cases turned over to the police. The findings come from a collection of civil rights data from 2009-2010 of more than 72,000 schools.

    Does your state allow corporal punishment of students? Do you know what your school policy is regarding physical discipline by the administration? Do you agree with it? Why or why not? Where does parental responsibility and discipline come in concerning a child’s behavior at school?

    Read more about corporal punishment.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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