Students push KY lawmakers to ban physical punishment in classrooms

Students push KY lawmakers to ban physical punishment in classrooms
The Kentucky State Capitol (Source: Dale Mader/WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Paddling, spanking and shaking students as punishment in Kentucky is legal.

But a group of students in Louisville have urged lawmakers to reconsider the law.

A bill to end corporal punishment in Kentucky schools was first considered in 2017.

Students from Louisville approached Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville) and explained they passed a similar law in Kentucky Youth Assembly, a learning program of model state government.

“Most states prohibit corporal punishment in schools and their experience shows that such bans do not lead to more discipline problems in schools,” Elizabeth George, a student at Sacred Heart, said. “In fact, research shows that physical punishment in schools is counter-productive because it tends to make kids more aggressive.”

Wayne introduced the proposed ban in 2017, but it didn’t go anywhere. Rep. Steve Riley (R-Glasgow) brought it back in 2017, but again it was not passed.

Riley has pre-filed a similar proposal for the 2019 General Assembly. It would ban any school employee from physically punishing a student.

“Kentucky needs a uniform policy on this issue, not one that changes from district to district,” Charlie Gardner, a student at St. X, said. “There are more effective ways to discipline a student and correct bad behaviors, including detention, suspension, or expulsion when needed.”

His classmate, Alex Young, added: “(Corporal punishment) is not a form of discipline that leads to deeper understanding and a long-term improvement in a child’s behavior.”

The General Assembly begins Tuesday, Jan. 8.

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