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The National pta has called for federal legislation to outlaw corporal punishment in schools nationwide.

"Parents would be charged with child abuse if they injured their children in the same way educators are legally allowed to do in most states," Arlene Zielke, National pta vice president for legislative activity, said in a statement.

Corporal punishment is illegal in only 19 states, eight of which banned the practice within the past year, Ms. Zielke said.

While physical punishment has been outlawed in prisons, psychiatric hospitals, and other institutions, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that such punishment in public schools is not cruel or unusual and that children who are physically punished are not protected under the Constitution.

The National pta argues that corporal punishment is ineffective in the long run; that it is most likely to be applied to minorities, handicapped youngsters, and younger children; and that it is often used as a first-resort punishment for minor offenses.

Arnold Fege, director of government affairs for the pta, said the group would continue to try to influence state legislation and to introduce changes in, among other federal education statutes, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, now up for reauthorization.


Growing numbers of black children are languishing in foster-care placements that do not address their health and educational needs, a new study reports.

A 2-year study by the National Black Child Development Institute found that black children are entering foster care at ever-younger ages and remaining in care for longer periods of time.

Despite the fact that black children shoulder a "disproportionate risk" of entering care with serious health and educational problems, the study said, they seldom receive developmental or psychological assessments and are often reported as having "no problems."

The study also noted that few black children in foster care remain in their original schools and that they often "face significant disruptions in their education as they move from placement to placement."

While most of the study population entered foster care because of abuse or neglect, the child-development institute reported that increasing numbers of placements are attributable to inadequate housing and parental drug abuse.

Free copies of the report, "Who Will Care When Parents Can't," are available from the n.bcdi, 1463 Rhode Island Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005.


One in every seven adolescents, or 4.5 million teenagers, lacks medical insurance, a new study has found.

The survey of more than 15,000 adolescents between the ages of 10 and 18 found that poor and minority adolescents were less likely to be covered by any medical insurance program than were white and middle-class adolescents. Blacks were 63 percent more likely to be uninsured, and Hispanics three times as likely to be uninsured, as white adolescents.

The study, which appears in the October issue of Pediatrics, found that nearly 7 out of 10 respondents said they lacked medical insurance because it was too expensive.


Healthy pregnant women whose fetuses do not appear to be at risk should receive less health care, and women at risk of conceiving unhealthy babies should receive more, a new federal report concludes.

The report, issued by the U.S. Public Health Service, found that many routine tests--such as a screening for protein in the urine now generally performed at every prenatal visit--are unnecessary for apparently healthy women. Low-risk women should have only seven or eight prenatal visits instead of the 13 that are currently recommended, the panel of experts suggested.

In contrast, women who are at greater risk for delivering an unhealthy baby, due to socioeconomic status or specific health problems, should receive more care, including social and psychological services and drug-, alcohol-, and tobacco-cessation instruction, the panel concluded.

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