Corporal punishment effects on school children

Local experts say the practice can have a psychological impact

Shreveport, La. - Alternative methods of discipline are becoming more popular in public schools, but Louisiana allows corporal punishment while many states have banned the practice.

The old practice of paddling school children for bad-behavior faces new scrutiny. More studies into the practice have lead to changes in state laws. Louisiana is one of 19 states that still use corporal punishment. 

"The evidence supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics and its policy and the Child Psychiatry Association, it's not appropriate, it doesn't work and leads to negative outcomes," said Dr. Joseph Bocchini, Professor and Chairman Dept. of Pediatrics LSUHSC.

Dr. Bocchini, said school policies need to pay attention to the scientific evidence. 

"That although you may gain some short term control of behavior of a child. In the end it doesn't teach a child the appropriate way to be disciplined. It doesn't give them the information they need to control their behavior and often teaches them the wrong approach to controlling a situation," Bocchini said.

He said children learn physical control rather than how to control their behavior. 

"To change behavior appropriately you have to establish a loving relationship, you have to identify when there is a negative behavior with the child," Bochini said. 

Professional Counselor Clint Davis with Family Plus in Shreveport said discipline must start at home, but when it's not effective and left up to educators the paddle doesn't send the right message. 

"When we discipline our goal is to teach. When you hit a child you're not necessarily teaching them how to behave your stopping a behavior," Davis said.

He said children will learn how to hide the bad-behavior rather than address it's root cause and conversations have more impact than corporal punishment.

"There's never a situation in life where that's ok. You can't do that in your marriage, you can't do that at work, you can't do that in any other situation where if someone breaks a rule or breaks a law or does something inconsistent you can't hit them," Davis said.

Caddo Parish had more than three-thousand incidences were reported since 2010.

Summerfield Elementary had the most cases in the last six years with 318 incidences. Other schools with the highest amounts include, E.B. Williams Stoner Hill Elementary Lab with 154 and Summer Grove Elementary with 74.

In Bossier Parish, 39 incidences were reported for 2015-2016 school year.

Bossier Elementary reported eleven cases, Waller Elementary reported nine and Meadowview Elementary had eight incidences. 

Both districts say corporal punishment is left up to the principal's discretion as a last effort to control a child, but they encourage schools to use positive behavior support instead.

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