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Is corporal punishment in schools legal?

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Updated: November 10, 2011 10:07AM



Dr. Wallace: Our family moved from Illinois to Indiana during the summer, so this is the first time I have attended a school outside of Illinois. I’m in the 10th grade, and I enjoy my new high school, but I do have one large concern. Our physical education teacher is also our football coach and sometimes he yells at us like we are on the football team. But that’s not all he does. If we are late to his class or we do something he doesn’t like, he gets a wooden paddle and gives the “violator” a swat on his rear end.

I’ve already received a swat for being late to class, but I don’t expect to get any more. I thought it was against a federal law to issue corporal punishment at a public school. If so, this teacher is breaking the law, and he should be fired.

Nameless, Indianapolis

Nameless: The federal government does not get involved in corporal punishment debates. It’s up to the individual states to make that decision. Most states forbid inflicting pain as a form of student discipline. Only 11 of the 50 states permit corporal punishment in a public school. Unfortunately, Indiana is one of the 11.

Dr. Wallace: I turned 16 last week. That’s an important age because now I can start dating. I do have a boyfriend, but we only spend time together at my house. Now we can go out. I’m allowed to date on one weekend night — Friday or Saturday.

My parents and I are discussing curfew hours. Of course, my suggestion is a little bit more liberal than theirs. Without disclosing the curfew times we are debating, I’m asking you what you think is fair. My parents said they would consider taking your curfew time into consideration if it is more liberal than theirs. All that I’m asking is that you be fair. I’m a good student and a darn good daughter.

Nameless, Sandy Springs, Ga.

Nameless: Instead of a “fixed” curfew time, I’d suggest a “flexible” curfew. The time could be anywhere between 10 p.m. and midnight, depending on the social events that could include going to the movies, or a special all-school evening event such as a dance or the prom. The curfew should be decided prior to the date.

I’m sure your parents will go along with this program. After all, you are “a good student and a darn good daughter.”



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