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Spanking Ban Passes in Virginia

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The state Senate in Virginia has narrowly approved a prohibition on corporal punishment in public schools, making it the first southern state to institute such a ban.

The Virginia House passed the bill on an 86 to 11 vote on Feb. 3. The Senate approved the measure Feb. 15 on a closer vote of 22 to 18.

If, as he has promised, Gov. Gerald L. Baliles signs the measure by the end of the month , Virginia would join 11 other states which have banned spanking in schools.

A similar bill was tabled last month by a South Dakota House panel.

The Virginia bill was endorsed by groups representing teachers and school boards, according to Representative J.W. O'Brien, the chairman of the House education committee.

In practice, most school districts already have written or verbal policies that prohibit corporal punishment, according to officials of the state department of public instruction.

Among those opposing the measure was Senator R. Edward Houck, an assistant principal, who warned that eliminating corporal punishment would leave educators with "very few" alternative methods of discipline.

Under both the Virginia and the South Dakota legislation, teachers and principals could continue to use "reasonable and necessary force" to maintain order in the classroom.

In South Dakota, the state school boards' association lobbied against a proposal to ban paddling and other physical forms of punishment in schools. The House education committee tabled the bill on Feb. 7.

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