Kentucky House passes bill to ban schoolhouse paddlings

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky would ban the paddling of students under a bill that won House passage Friday after a couple of state lawmakers recalled being on the receiving end of disciplinary swats.

The measure, which would prohibit schools from using corporal punishment, cleared the House on a 65-17 vote. It now goes to the Senate.

Kentucky is among 19 states that still allow corporal punishment as a form of school discipline.

Republican Rep. Steve Riley, the bill's lead sponsor, said corporal punishment is ineffective because it fails to change behavior in a positive way.

Another GOP lawmaker, Rep. Kevin Bratcher, said he was paddled while in high school after being caught sneaking out of school with some classmates to chew tobacco.

“All it really did was make us set up a guardsman the next time we did it," said Bratcher, who voted for the bill. “It didn't really curb the behavior."

The paddling, he said, was delivered by a longtime school principal who is now his House colleague, Democratic Rep. Charles Miller.

In the 2018-2019 school year, there were 284 instances of corporal punishment in slightly more than a dozen school districts, said Republican Rep. Jason Nemes, who voted for the bill.

Nemes and a Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Maria Sorolis, said corporal punishment sends the wrong message to youngsters.

“A child learns what he lives," Sorolis said. “If a child lives with violence, he will learn to fight. We are sophisticated enough now that we can teach and discipline ... rather than to merely punish. And if we want to stem the tide of violence among our adult population, we need to begin in our schools."

Democratic Rep. Tina Bojanowski recalled being paddled at school for cutting the lunch line.

“As I reflect on that and how impactful corporal punishment could be for our students who have experienced trauma, it just really helps me to see how important this bill is,” she said.

The bill would ban school employees from the “deliberate infliction of severe physical pain on a student" with the intent to punish or discipline. It would including paddling, striking and shaking.

The measure would exclude “spontaneous physical contact” intended to protect a student from immediate danger from the banned definition of corporal punishment. The exclusions also include “reasonable” athletic and military training.

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The legislation is House Bill 22.


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