Physical Education


Teachers should never be allowed to punish their students physically. Corporal punishment in the classroom belongs in the past.

A recently proposed Kansas bill attempted to define corporal punishment in order to prevent parents from being accused of child abuse after spanking their children.

The proposed law defines spanking as “up to 10 forceful applications in succession of a bare, open-hand palm against the clothed buttocks of a child,” according to an article in The Kansas City Star.

Outlining such an exact definition of spanking is unnecessary. Most law enforcement agencies can tell the different between appropriate physical discipline and child abuse.

The real issue with the proposed bill is that it also allowed parents to give their students’ teachers and caregivers permission to spank their children.

Rep. Gail Finney’s bill, which fortunately died in House committee last week, should not have included teachers.

A classroom should be a safe place for students to be. Students should not have any fear of physical punishments. Teachers can achieve respect in their classrooms through a variety of means, none of which have to include physically harming students.

Anna Durham, a sophomore middle secondary math education major, explained that fear negatively affects a student’s classroom environment.

“Based on how the brain reacts, when there is a threat of physical danger, fear takes over the brain,” Durham said. “It doesn’t allow your brain to function in a normal state. In order to learn, your brain has to be thinking properly.”

On top of that, being spanked by a teacher in front of a classroom full of peers would be humiliating for students.

This kind of distraction would interfere with a student’s ability to learn and be comfortable at school.

The proposed law also allowed teachers to spank students over the age of 18 who are still enrolled in high school, according to an article in the Wichita Eagle. This kind of punishment to a teenager could be especially degrading.

Butler University’s education program is student need-based, Durham said, which means the students’ needs are the first priority in the classroom.

“If students start to act out, there’s something underneath the behavior,” Durham said. “The teacher has to figure out what need isn’t being filled.”

This program is not based on punishment, Durham said. The focus is to figure out what is the underlying cause of bad or inappropriate behavior and work with the student to fix the issue, if possible.

Butler University’s approach to behavioral problems is far more effective for a classroom than corporal punishment.

Spanking a student has no place in a classroom, and the law should not condone such behavior in schools.

Corporal punishment is still legal in Indiana schools. This is outrageous. Even if most schools do not still use this method of punishment, no school should have the option to punish its students physically.

Fortunately for Kansas, this bill died in committee last week. Indiana is not so lucky. Indiana citizens should make an effort to get this practice banned in this state.

The future of education should be building children’s confidence, not tearing it down through physical force.