For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Claire O'Brien, (202) 675-2312;

House of Representatives Holds Hearing on Corporal Punishment in Public Schools

Congress Should Ban Physical Discipline in Schools, Says ACLU

House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Healthy Families and
Communities held a hearing today examining the role of corporal
punishment in public schools and its effect on student achievement. The
American Civil Liberties Union strongly opposes the use of physical
discipline in public schools and, in conjunction with Human Rights
Watch, submitted a statement to the subcommittee urging Congress to
prohibit corporal punishment in public schools. Linda Pee, the mother of
a student who was severely paddled in a public school despite her
explicit objection, testified at the hearing. Pee's story is featured in
A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in U.S. Public
, a report by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch.

punishment is a legal form of school discipline in 20 states, with
African-American students and students with disabilities
disproportionately subjected to physical discipline. There is currently
no federal ban on the use of corporal punishment against students in
public schools, despite evidence that the practice hinders achievement
in the classroom.

punishment in public schools is simply unacceptable. It harms students
physically and psychologically and stands in the way of academic
success, especially for African-American students and students with
disabilities," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington
Legislative Office. "Congress must ban this arcane form of discipline in
all public schools so that children can learn in safety and without

ACLU commends Chairperson Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and the
subcommittee for examining an issue which impacts the lives of millions
of children and parents, and urges the introduction of federal
legislation banning corporal punishment in all public schools. In
addition, the ACLU urges Congress to assist schools in finding
alternatives to harsh disciplinary methods by passing the Positive
Behavior for Safe and Effective Schools Act (H.R. 2597). This bill would
enable schools to use federal funds to implement positive behavior
supports (PBS), an evidence-based approach proven to reduce discipline
referrals, support improved academic outcomes and improve school

children in schools is a destructive form of discipline that is
ineffective in producing educational environments in which students can
thrive. It is stunning to think children in some states receive greater
protections in detention facilities than they do in their public
schools," said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "By
abandoning ineffective and brutal discipline, and by adopting positive
behavior supports, schools can provide opportunities for all students to
achieve academic success in a supportive, safe environment."

statement submitted by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch for the hearing
is available at:

Pee's written testimony submitted for the hearing is available at:

Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in U.S. Public
Schools, a report by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, is available at:


Education: Corporal Punishment of Students with Disabilities in US
Public Schools, a report by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, is
available at:


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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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