School District in Missouri Reinstates Spanking

Daniel Perodin, Staff Writer

In June, Cassville School District in Missouri passed a rule permitting school officials to spank students as punishment for misbehavior.

The action succeeded a district-issued survey given to parents, finding that discipline remains a major concern. In order for this new rule to go into practice, certain conditions have been placed. Parents are required to give permission, and spanking will only be used as a last resort if serious punishments, like suspensions, have not been effective. Students also cannot be struck in the face or head under any circumstances. 

This announcement divided the community. Some agree with the rule since individual parents will have a choice on whether or not their child can be spanked. However, others think it is outdated and abusive. 

We don’t want to be ethnocentric. Some cultures value corporal punishment. We do know punishment like hitting students for misbehavior would reduce those behaviors. Operant conditioning principles have shown that punishment decreases behaviors,” Miami Palmetto Senior High School Advanced Placement Psychology teacher Dr. Amy Schaffer said. “Unfortunately, punishment also has negative consequences like creating a fear of the person hitting you. When it is possible to use reinforcement, rewards for behaviors you want to increase, that can be more effective. You still increase the good behaviors without the problems associated with punishment.” 

The American Psychological Association recommends against spanking. According to a 2016 study, only six percent of American pediatricians approve of spanking. Experts also say that corporal punishment is not effective and can increase antisocial behavior in children. This has led the American Academy of Pediatrics to call for a ban on any form of physical discipline. 

That being said, the Supreme Court ruled corporal punishment to be constitutional in 1977. As of 2022, 19 states allow schools to use this type of punishment – Florida is one of them. In 2001, the Cassville district stopped the use of spanking, but over 20 years later the practice has been officially reinstated.