ACLU Supports New Bill To Eliminate Corporal Punishment From Schools
WASHINGTON – Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) today introduced the Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act, a bill that would eliminate the use of corporal punishment in public and private schools that serve students receiving federal services. The American Civil Liberties Union strongly supports the bill, and urges Congress to swiftly pass the legislation.
“Children have the right to learn in a safe, supportive environment that allows them to reach their full academic potential; the Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act will help create the kind of classrooms they need,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The American Civil Liberties Union has fought long and hard to make corporal punishment in schools a thing of the past, and we urge Congress to finally put an end to this cruel and outdated form of punishment and swiftly act to pass this bill.”
Corporal punishment is a legal form of discipline in 20 states, and according to U.S. Department of Education data, it is disproportionately used against African-American students and students with disabilities. There is currently no federal ban on the use of corporal punishment against students, despite evidence that the practice injures students and hinders achievement in the classroom. The ACLU, along with dozens of coalition partners, sent a letter to Rep. McCarthy voicing strong support for the bill.
In addition to banning corporal punishment in public and private schools that receive federal funds, the bill also establishes a grant program for school-wide positive behavior supports, an evidence-based approach to school discipline which allows schools to proactively target potentially problematic behavior and develop approaches that can improve school climate and academic outcomes by reducing school discipline referrals.
“By adopting positive behavior supports and abandoning ineffective and brutal discipline, schools can create environments that encourage academic success rather than hinder it,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “It’s time that Congress step in to end this arcane and destructive practice so that our schools can be places where students and educators interact in positive ways that foster students’ growth and dignity.”
The letter to Representative McCarthy signed by the ACLU and coalition partners is available at:
A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in U.S. Public Schools, a report by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, is available at: