Thursday, February 20th, 2014
A Kansas lawmaker has proposed legislation that would make it legal for parents to spank children to the point that the strikes would be allowed to leave redness or bruising on the child. (Update: On Feb. 20 the bill was killed before getting a hearing). More from The Associated Press:
Current Kansas law allows spanking that doesn’t leave marks. Rep. Gail Finney, a Democrat from Wichita, says he wants to allow up to 10 strikes of the hand and that could leave redness and bruising. The bill also would allow parents to give permission to others to spank their children.
It would continue to ban hitting a child with fists, in the head or body, or with a belt or switch.
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Friday, January 10th, 2014
“Zero tolerance” policies in schools, while well-intentioned, are often ineffective and overly zealous, and they create a school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately affects minority students, the Obama administration said this week in a set of new guidelines. The guidelines urge schools to abandon “zero tolerance” policies in favor of alternate methods of deescalating classroom conflicts before they become violent and dangerous. More from PBS.org:
The wide-ranging series of guidelines issued Wednesday in essence tells schools that they must adhere to the principle of fairness and equity in student discipline or face strong action if they don’t. The American Civil Liberties Union called the recommendations “ground-breaking.”
“A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.
Holder said the problem often stems from well intentioned “zero-tolerance” policies that too often inject the criminal justice system into the resolution of problems. Zero-tolerance policies, a tool that became popular in the 1990s, often spell out uniform and swift punishment for offenses such as truancy, smoking or carrying a weapon. Violators can lose classroom time or become saddled with a criminal record.
Police have become a more common presence in American schools since the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999.
The administration said research suggests the racial disparities in how students are disciplined are not explained by more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color.
“In our investigations, we have found cases where African-American students were disciplined more harshly and more frequently because of their race than similarly situated white students,” the Justice and Education departments said in a letter to school districts. “In short, racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem.”
Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the School Superintendents Association, acknowledged that students of color were being suspended and expelled in disproportionate numbers.
In American schools, black students without disabilities were more than three times as likely as whites to be expelled or suspended, according to government civil rights data collection from 2011-2012. Although black students made up 15 percent of students in the data collection, they made up more than a third of students suspended once, 44 percent of those suspended more than once and more than a third of students expelled.
More than half of students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or black, according to the data.
Domenech said his organization will work to educate members about the recommendations. “Superintendents recognize that out-of-school suspension is outdated and not in line with 21st-century education,” he said.
Image: Prison bars, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
“To Train Up a Child,” a parenting book that advocates parents use such extreme discipline measures as starvation and severe beatings with switches and plastic tubes, has been implicated in the murders of three children, all adoptees: 4-year-old Sean Paddock, 7-year-old Lydia Schatz, and 13-year-old Hana Williams. Last month, Williams’ adoptive parents, Larry and Carri Williams, were convicted of homicide by abuse after the girl died of malnutrition and hypothermia, both punishments linked with advice from the book, which was written by a preacher and his wife. Politix.com reports on a petition that is circulating urging Amazon.com to remove the book from its website–so far, the petition has garnered more than 80,000 signatures:
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The book by preacher Michael Pearl and his wife Debi advocates using a switch on babies starting at 6 months old. The book also recommends beating older children with a flexible plumbing pipe that “can be rolled up and carried in your pocket.” The Williams’s seem to have taken that advice to heart. When Hana died, her body was scarred by beatings with the plumbing line.
The same kind of tubing was used to beat Lydia Schatz, 7, whose adoptive parents were convicted of second-degree murder in her death. Her parents would intersperse beatings with prayer. Lydia “died from severe tissue damage, and her older sister had to be hospitalized,” the New York Times reports. Another small child, 4-year-old Sean Paddock, was scarred by beatings with the tubing when he died at the hands of his adoptive parents.
The Williams’s told friends that Hana was “rebellious” and recommended To Train up a Child as manual for dealing with rebellious children, according to Slate. Hana has also been deprived of food (perhaps following the Pearls’ advice that “a little fasting is good training”) and forced to shower outside and sleep in a barn without bedding, even in freezing weather.
Currently over 670,000 copies of To Train Up a Child are in circulation.
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics has linked frequent spanking of young children with problems including aggressive behavior and vocabulary and language delays later in childhood. More from CBS News:
Children who were spanked often early in life by their mothers were more likely to be aggressive later in childhood compared to kids who weren’t spanked at all, a study published in Pediatrics on Oct. 21 concluded. Being spanked by dads was also linked to vocabulary and language problems in kids.
“These effects are long-lasting. They aren’t just short-term problems that wash out over time. And the effects were stronger for those who were spanked more than twice a week,” co-author Michael MacKenzie, an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York, told HealthDay.
The study involved more than 1,900 families in 20 medium to large U.S. cities who were enrolled in the long-running Fragile Families and Child Well-Being study. Parents were asked how often they spanked their child when he or she was age 3 and 5, and a child’s aggressive behavior and vocabulary were evaluated at 3 and 9 years.
In total, 57 percent of mothers and 40 percent of fathers spanked their child at the age of 3. When the child was 5, 52 percent of mothers and 33 percent of fathers spanked their kids.
Mothers who were still spanking their child by the age of 5 — no matter how often — were more likely to have a child who was more aggressive than his or her peers by the time they turned nine. Mothers who spanked their child at least twice a week when they were 3 also had children more likely to have these problem behaviors.
Children who were spanked at least twice a week by their fathers at the age of 5 were more likely to score lower on vocabulary and language-comprehension tests.
Image: Parent angry with child, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Children whose parents administer discipline in the form of slapping, shoving, or pushing may be more likely to become obese or suffer other emotional and physical health problems later in life. Reuters has more:
“This is one study that adds to a growing area of research that all has consistent findings that physical punishment is associated with negative mental and now physical (health) outcomes,” said Tracie Afifi, who led the study at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.
Last year, she and her colleagues published findings linking hitting and slapping in childhood to a higher risk of depression and anxiety later in life (see Reuters Health story of July 2, 2013 here: reut.rs/Mo1MXm.)
For the current report, they re-analyzed data collected in 2004 and 2005 by United States Census interviewers, who surveyed more than 34,000 adults across the country.
Participants were asked whether their parents or other adults at home pushed, slapped, grabbed, shoved or hit them for punishment as a child. They also reported their current health conditions.
About 1,300 people reported being physically punished at least “sometimes” without more extreme physical or emotional abuse or neglect. Compared to people who weren’t punished physically as children, they were more likely to have been diagnosed with at least one chronic health condition.
Specifically, those participants were 25 percent more likely to have arthritis and 28 percent more likely to have cardiovascular disease – though the second finding could have been due to chance, the researchers wrote Monday in Pediatrics.
More people who had been punished physically were obese: about 31 percent, versus 26 percent of those with no history of physical punishment.
Image: Angry parent and child, via Shutterstock
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