The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Claire O’Brien, (202) 675-2312;

Bill Eliminating Corporal Punishment In Schools Introduced In House

Bill Will Help Create Safer Learning Environments, Says ACLU


Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) today introduced the Ending Corporal
Punishment in Schools Act, a bill that would eliminate the use of
corporal punishment in public and private schools that serve students
receiving federal services. The American Civil Liberties Union strongly
supports the bill, and urges Congress to swiftly pass the legislation.

"Children have the right to learn in a safe, supportive
environment that allows them to reach their full academic potential; the
Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act will help create the kind of
classrooms they need," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU
Washington Legislative Office. "The American Civil Liberties Union has
fought long and hard to make corporal punishment in schools a thing of
the past, and we urge Congress to finally put an end to this cruel and
outdated form of punishment and swiftly act to pass this bill."
Corporal punishment is a legal form of discipline in 20 states,
and according to U.S. Department of Education data, it is
disproportionately used against African-American students and students
with disabilities. There is currently no federal ban on the use of
corporal punishment against students, despite evidence that the practice
injures students and hinders achievement in the classroom. The ACLU,
along with dozens of coalition partners, sent a letter to Rep. McCarthy
voicing strong support for the bill.
In addition to banning corporal punishment in public and private
schools that receive federal funds, the bill also establishes a grant
program for school-wide positive behavior supports, an evidence-based
approach to school discipline which allows schools to proactively target
potentially problematic behavior and develop approaches that can
improve school climate and academic outcomes by reducing school
discipline referrals.
"By adopting positive behavior supports and abandoning
ineffective and brutal discipline, schools can create environments that
encourage academic success rather than hinder it," said Deborah J.
Vagins, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "It's time that Congress step in to
end this arcane and destructive practice so that our schools can be
places where students and educators interact in positive ways that
foster students' growth and dignity."
The letter to Representative McCarthy signed by the ACLU and
coalition partners is available at:
A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in U.S.
Public Schools, a report by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, is
available at:
Impairing Education: Corporal Punishment of Students with
Disabilities in US Public Schools, a report by the ACLU and Human Rights
Watch, is available at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666