Wednesday, June 10, 2009

LA: Corporal Punishment Debate Continues

Posted: June 9, 2009 07:32 PM

Updated: June 10, 2009 05:33 PM

The debate over corporal punishment in public schools has made it's way to the Capitol.  Tuesday Representative Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, took her bill to ban corporal punishment before the House Education Committee.

Due to time constraints, house bill 571 was deferred until next week's meeting, but Norton did have a chance to make her case.

"There are 11,000 children being paddled in school each year," said Norton. "If these children are being whipped in their houses and whipped in the schools, I say to you today, what is it we can do to give that child some stability, to understand somebody cares."

The issue caught the attention of lawmakers on the committee, including Representative John Edwards, D-Amite, who allows corporal punishment for his son in school.

"On occasion he needs corporal punishment, but everyday he needs to know that it is something that the school can administer, and I believe that," said Edwards.

Also watching closely, supporters of Norton's cause, who think corporal punishment is disproportionately used on boys, african americans, poor and disabled students.

"What we're doing is subjecting the children who need the most support to harsh tactics, tactics we wouldn't use on prisoners, they won't use it on murderers, but they'll use it on kids who chew gum," said Shawn Fleming, deputy director of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council.

The House Education Committee will reconvene next Tuesday, where they will pick up their debate on house bill 571.

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