How far can a school go in disciplining students?
Twenty states have laws permitting corporal punishment in schools and in the most recent statistics from 2005-06, more than 223,000 students were subjected to physical punishment during the school year. But the numbers have been steadily declining since more than 1.5 million students were struck in 1976. Corporal punishment has its detractors, but also many very staunch defenders.
But what about handcuffing a child, especially one still in the first grade?
Civil rights activists have filed suit against a Louisiana school district on behalf of a now 7-year-old student and his parents. In May, guards twice handcuffed the then 6-year-old boy to a piece of office furniture in the principal’s office. In one case he allegedly failed to listen and follow orders and two days later he was involved in a shoving match with another student.
In the lawsuit, the boy’s parents say they spoke with the school’s principal, who defended the action. And, according to the lawsuit, the principal said she would do it again if the boy failed to follow the rules.
In an eMail to the media, a district spokesperson called the incidents “isolated” and said there were no student arrests or employee terminations.
Corporal punishment aside, I have problems with a young student being treated like a criminal. There are other and better ways for districts to handle problem students–at least those that are only 6 years old.
Patrick Fiel is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of school security for Washington, D.C. Public School System. He also served 22 years in the Army Military Police Corps, where his responsibilities included day-to-day security operations at the West Point Military Academy. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.
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