When it comes to corporal punishment, Robeson County educators spared the rod with the fewest frequency of all the state’s school systems during the 2009-2010 school year, according to the state Department of Public Instruction.
According to the DPI, Robeson County educators used corporal punishment 296 times during that school year, while it was used a total of 864 times in all the other state’s public schools. That means 25 percent of the time corporal punishment was used that year, it was done in this county.
But that number becomes much less impressive with a spoonful of perspective: Only 18 school systems besides Robeson’s allow corporal punishment, and our system, with more than 40 schools, is among the largest in the state. Because the system boasts 24,000 students, just one out of 81 of them was paddled during that entire school year.
In addition to the sheer size of the system, there are other factors that push us to No. 1, mostly demographics, but also cultural. Discipline has been administered with the rod around here for generations, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. It is part of our fabric.
The state House this week, in an effort to make uniform policies governing how corporal punishment can be administered in public schools, passed legislation that requires a parent or guardian’s permission in advance of their child being spanked. The proposed policy, which now moves to the Senate, mirrors what is already being used in Robeson County, where parents and guardians sign off — or forbid — the use of corporal punishment at the beginning of the school year by signing and returning a slip of paper.
We are confused that there remain educators in this state who would dare to take a paddle to a child’s rear end without permission, not because the offending student hasn’t earned the licks, but because of the risk of litigation.
Which brings us to our point.
During the 2009-2010 school year, 296 times educators in this county took the risk of turning a discipline problem into a lawsuit. We don’t know why any educator would assume that burden, and we don’t accept that there are not other disciplinary options that are as effective or moreso.
We wish the state General Assembly would move more resolutely and ban corporal punishment, and join the other 31 states that have already done so. Spanking a child carries with it risks that no system should assume, a risk that doesn’t go away with a permission slip.