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Yes, Corporal Punishment Is Still Legal In Ky. Schools. But Maybe Not For Long

State House lawmakers passed a measure that would end corporal punishment in Kentucky schools.
State House lawmakers passed a measure that would end corporal punishment in Kentucky schools.

Corporal punishment would be outlawed in the state’s public and private schools under a measure passed in the Kentucky House Friday morning.

Kentucky is one of 19 states where it’s still legal for school staff to inflict pain on students as a form of discipline – usually with a wooden paddle to the behind.

“A child learns what he lives,” Rep. Maria Sorolis (D-Louisville) said on the floor, speaking in support of the ban. “If a child learns with violence, he will learn to fight. We are sophisticated enough now that we can teach and discipline to disciple, rather than to merely punish.”

State records show each year hundreds of Kentucky students are struck by school staff – mostly in southeastern Kentucky.

“My experience as a longtime educator and others is that this is not an effective form of discipline,” Rep. Steve Riley (R-Glasgow) said, who is sponsoring the legislation. He pointed to research showing corporal punishment has negative outcomes on student well-being and academic achievement. National research also shows students of color and students with disabilities are more likely to be subjected to corporal punishment than their peers.

The bill passed the House and goes onto consideration by the state Senate.

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.

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