Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Inches Closer to Reality

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky House has passed a bill banning the use of corporal punishment in Kentucky schools.

House Bill 22, sponsored by Rep. Steve Riley, R-Glasgow, bans spanking, paddling, shaking or any other type of deliberate action meant to inflict pain on students as a way of punishment by a school district employee.

“The purpose of discipline in schools and other places is to change behavior in a positive way and evidence and research shows that that does not do that,” he said.

The measure has exemptions for athletic and military training and for any “spontaneous physical contact intended to protect a student”.

Educator Rep. Travis Brenda, R-Cartersville, said this inclusion helped him throw is support behind the measure.

“I was glad to see that the language this year includes that,” he said.

Other lawmakers shared their own experiences of being punished through corporal punishment including Rep. Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville, who received his punishment from Rep. Charles Miller, D-Louisville, when he was a student at Pleasant Ridge Park High School.

“Me and some baseball team members thought it was a good idea to go out and chew tobacco behind the new gym and we got busted by the gentleman from Jefferson 28 who is not here today, and he paddled us,” Bratcher said. “All it really did was make us set up an outlook, a guardsman, the next time we did it. It didn’t really curb the behavior. “

While the bill was in committee earlier in the week Miller acknowledged he used to paddle students for punishment but said times have changed and he supports the measure.

80 percent of school districts in Kentucky no longer use this type of punishment, however, there were still 284 cases of corporal punishment during the 2018-19 school year oftentimes on elementary-aged children.

Kentucky is just 1 of 19 states that still allow the practice.

The measure applies to all schools private and public. Kentucky Youth Advocates applauded the passage of the measure. 

“Eliminating the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline in all schoolhouses is a commonsense measure that compliments smart efforts to improve school safety and climate,” Executive Director Terry Brooks said in a statement. 

The bill passed 65-17 and heads to the Senate.