Some Kentucky schools still paddle students. Bill advances that would ban spanking

Kentucky would no longer be one of 19 states that still spanks children at school under a bill that was approved Tuesday by a legislative panel in the 2020 General Assembly.

A nurse who treated a 7-year-old injured when their principal paddled them, Rep. Tina Bojanowski, D-Louisville, who recalled being paddled at school for cutting in line and Rep. Charles Miller, D- Louisville, a lawmaker who spanked students as an educator, all spoke in favor of banning corporal punishment in Kentucky at a House Education Committee meeting.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, after the meeting called on the full state House of Representatives to approve the bill.

“Corporal punishment does not create a more orderly learning environment. It does not change behavior. What it does do is traumatize kids, and it actually creates school climates that are less orderly and disciplined, “ Brooks said.

Under House Bill 22, filed by State Rep. Steve Riley, corporal punishment is defined as the deliberate infliction of severe physical pain on a student by any means intended to punish or discipline the student, including but not limited to paddling, striking, shaking, or spanking.

It would not include spontaneous physical contact intended to protect a student from immediate danger; and reasonable athletic and military training.

Under the bill, school district employees, non-faculty coaches, and non-faculty assistants could not use corporal punishment on any student.

Riley, R-Glasgow, has filed similar bills in the past at the request of students. There was testimony on the legislation in 2019 in the House Education Committee, but the committee did not vote on the measure.

According to the Kentucky Department of Education there were 284 incidents of corporal punishment in Kentucky schools in 2018-19, down from 452 in 2017-18. Schools districts including Bath, Bell, Clinton, Crittenden, Fleming, Harlan, Hart, Johnson, Perry, Pike, Pikeville Independent, Pulaski and Wayne reported incidents of corporal punishment in 2018-19.

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