Louisiana Lawmaker Makes Another Attempt to Ban Corporal Punishment In Public Schools

“The Board of Education” (Wesley Fryer via Louisiana Illuminator/CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Louisiana lawmakers will once again decide whether to continue allowing corporal punishment in public schools. 

A bill to outlaw “the use of physical force that causes pain or discomfort to discipline a student” will be offered to the Louisiana Legislature, said Rep. Stephanie Hilferty, R-New Orleans, who authored the same proposal last year. It failed to advance from the House, with opponents labeling it as government overreach.

“We don’t hit prisoners in the prison system, and we don’t hit juveniles in the juvenile detention system,” Hilferty said. “And yet, this is how in some instances students are being disciplined in the school system.”

Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, who voted against the bill, said on the House floor last year that the state telling schools how to discipline students could create a slippery slope that leads to telling parents how to discipline their children at home.

When asked if the same resistance would come up again this year, Hilferty said her bill “does nothing to affect a parent’s ability to… appropriately spank their child in the home.”

“This is really, if anything, giving parents more control, given that they’ll have a better understanding of how their child’s being disciplined within the school system,” she said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports the bill “because of some of the harmful effects that (corporal punishment) has on children,” she said.

In arguing for her bill to the Louisiana House Education Committee last year, Hilferty told mebers that research from the pediatricians group found children disciplined through corporal punishment become more aggresive and hampered brain development.

Students subjected to corporal punishment also score lower on IQ tests, and such discipline is considered a traumatic experience that is likely to have longterm implications, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“We’re moving forward with this… hopefully with better success on the House floor,” Hilferty said.

Louisiana Illuminator is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Louisiana Illuminator maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jarvis DeBerry for questions: info@lailluminator.com. Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and Twitter.

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