LEXINGTON (AP) — One Kentucky school district had one-fourth of all corporal punishment incidents in Kentucky public schools last year, according to state figures.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that according to the Kentucky Department of Education, there were 574 incidents of corporal punishment, or paddling, in public schools last year. That compares to 3,075 incidents in 2005.
Bell County schools reported 148 corporal punishment incidents, including 107 at Bell Central elementary and middle school in Pineville. The number of paddlings in Bell County Schools is down from 393 in 2005.
Each of the state’s 173 school districts is allowed to decide whether to use corporal punishment. Bell County leaves it up to principals to decide whether to dish out corporal punishment with parents’ permission.
Bell Central Principal Greg Wilson said parents often request paddling over suspensions for their misbehaving children.
“We’re a very high performing school here,” Wilson said. “Parents don’t want their kids to be out of class.”
“A lot of us are old school, and parents will ask us if they can use that option. We try many things before we get to that point.”
Wilson said children are fully clothed when paddled. Depending on the age of the child and the infraction, the student is swatted one to three times on the backside with a round paddle. There are two witnesses and the person doing the padding is the same gender as the child and generally is an administrator.
State Senate Education Chairman Mike Wilson said he doesn’t see a need for changing the law unless it’s absolutely necessary.
“There was corporal punishment when I was going to school, and I’m not any worse the wear for it,” said Wilson, R-Bowling Green.
Kentucky School Boards Association spokesman Brad Hughes said corporal punishment was used last year in 25 school districts. At least 67 districts statewide have policies allowing it.
“It’s fading out of the disciplinary options in the state,” he said. “Consistently it’s trending downward.”