School Climate & Safety

Human Rights Groups Focus On Corporal Punishment Among Students With Disabilities

By Christina A. Samuels — August 13, 2009 1 min read
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Last summer, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch wrote a report on the incidences of corporal punishment in schools in a report called A Violent Education. I wrote a blog post about the document, which included a separate section specifically on corporal punishment and its frequent use with students receiving special education services.

Now, the two groups have teamed up for a new report that talks just about corporal punishment among students with disabilities. Called Impairing Education, this new study, which was released earlier this week, noted that students with disabilities made up 18.8 percent of students who suffered corporal punishment at school during the 2006-2007 school year, although they constituted just 13.7 percent of the total nationwide student population.

From the press release:

The report found that some students were physically abused for conduct related to their disabilities, including students with Tourette syndrome being punished for exhibiting involuntary tics and students with autism being punished for repetitive behaviors such as rocking. In some cases, corporal punishment against students with disabilities led to a worsening of their conditions. For instance, some parents reported that students with autism became violent toward themselves or others following corporal punishment.

There’s a lot of news stories out about the report, but I particularly liked this blog post on the Get Schooled blog run by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Georgia is a state where paddling in schools is legal, and the post prompted a lively discussion from parents, some pro-paddling, some against it.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.