A Texas school district will allow its campuses to inflict corporal punishment upon misbehaving students.
On Jan. 23, the Three Rivers Independent School District board approved a measure allowing its schools to physically harm disobedient students for minor infractions with a paddle, reports USA Today. The school district oversees two schools and about 700 students.
The motion was voted in 6-0, and states only a school's principal or campus behavior coordinator can inflict the punishment with parental consent.
"If the parent is not comfortable with it, that's the end of the discussion," Superintendent Mary Springs said.
Three Rivers Elementary School’s campus behavior coordinator, Andrew Amaro, introduced the idea, hoping the punishment will be more impactful than in-school suspension or detention.
Amaro says he was paddled as a child and found it effective.
"I believe it worked," Amaro said. "It was an immediate response for me. I knew that if I got in trouble with a teacher and I was disrespectful, whatever the infraction was, I knew I was going to get a swat by the principal."
News of the move has sparked controversy nationwide.
While a few support such practices, many argue against it, including the federal government, teachers groups, the National PTA, civil rights advocates, and mental health and medical professionals.
In November 2016, former U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. urged states to end such punishments.
In a letter addressed to the 15 state leaders that specifically allow schools to inflict corporal punishment, King cited various studies showing how such disciplinary measures produce harmful outcomes for students.
In the short-term, King cites research revealing how corporal punishment is linked to more aggressive and defiant behavior, lowers academic achievement, and overwhelmingly targeting students of color, males and the disabled.
King also points to multiple studies illustrating how students who have experienced physical punishment are more likely to struggle with substance abuse and mental health issues, such as depression, personality disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.
He also argues it teaches students "that physical force is an acceptable means of solving problems, undermining efforts to promote nonviolent techniques for conflict resolution."
"While some may argue that corporal punishment is a tradition in some school communities, past practice alone cannot be a sufficient rationalization for continuing to engage in actions that have been proven to have short- and long-term detrimental effects," King argues. "Indeed, there are many practices which were previously legal in the United States but which we would not tolerate today."