Disabled Students in the U.S. Face Higher Rate of Corporal Punishment in Public Schools

Posted: 11 August 2009 by Little Alex in National News
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A 70-page report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) titled, “Impairing Education: Corporal Punishment of Students with Disabilities in U.S. Public Schools,” shows that disabled students “face corporal punishment in public schools at disproportionately high rates,” including beatings. The ACLU and HRW are calling for “an immediate moratorium on corporal punishment in U.S. public schools”.

For starters: What the fuck?!

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights 223,190 students were paddled in the 2006-07 school year, including 41,972 disabled students. 18.8% of children paddled in public schools are disabled, though they consist of only 13.7% of the nationawide public school student population. Corporal punishment is legal in 20 American states. The ACLU and HRW conducuted interviews with 32 parents of students with disabilities, 18 teachers with relevant experience, and 15 public school officials.

From the report: “Paddling (also commonly called “swats,” “pops,” or “licks”) usually means hitting a student three or more times on the buttocks and upper thighs with a wooden paddle….

“The paddle used to hit children is typically around 15 inches long, between two and four inches wide, and one-half inch thick, with a six-inch handle at one end. One former teacher in Texas told the ACLU and Human Rights Watch that he found shaved down baseball bats that were being used as paddles….

“When a student is paddled, she is typically told to stand with her hands on a desk or a chair, so that the student is bent over. hese stances are submissive, placing the student in a position with no opportunity for self defense, even though he is being subjected to violent blows. Students take steps to mitigate the blows, well aware of the pain they may face.One Texas boy, who has ADHD and dyslexia, ‘wore extra clothing because he had heard the coach hit hard’.”

Charles B., the father of an dyslexic boy 11-year-old with ADHD, says his son was knocked down by the first “swat” and the principal gave the boy five seconds to get up or else “he’d start all over again”. After it took the boy about a minute and a half to get up, the principal gave him two more “swats” and had to go to the nurse for an asthma inhaler because the boy couldn’t breathe. “When he came home from school, my wife found the marks on him. When I came home at 8 [p.m.], we went to the sheriff’s office. He had severe bruising on his buttocks and on his lower back. His butt was just covered.”

One Mississippi grandmother described a 300 lb. assistant principal paddling her autistic grandson with an inch-thick paddle.

That’s right. Oversized so-called “men” beating little boys on the American dime.

Theresa E., a Georgia grandmother, described her five-year-old autistic granddaughter being bopped on the forehead with a toy hammer adding, “Jessie has a tactile sensory disorder. The school was aware she had this problem … I said to her, what feels like a tap to you feels like something entirely different to this girl.”

Jessie was non-verbal at the time, but cried in pain when she was being picked up by her armpits and had bruising that her doctor said, “looked like she’d been hit by a baseball bat or had been in a motorcycle accident.”

Therea E. also described witnessing another non-verbal girl thrown across the room into a wall with no warning at all.

One Mississippi middle schooler described being hit with “four rulers taped together” because he was talking.

Tom R.’s son — with OCD, Tourette Syndrome, and bipolar disorder — says his son, while in first grade, was spanked with an open hand five or six times within a three month period.

Brian and Karen W.’s autistic son described their son being dragged from his desk when he was 10: “He was under the desk, crying … He finally bolted up from under his desk and grabbed the man [the aide]’s hand. He [my son] wasn’t a threat to him. But in their mind, they saw that as physical aggression toward a staff. [Another staff member] helped [the aide] drag out Brian … he came home with bruises. Bruises to the back of his neck from being held down. This is the day when we started saying, ‘you’ve got to make accommodations, you cannot do this to him.'”

Rose C’s autistic son with cognitive delays described a videotape she obtained of him being ‘dragged across campus and thrown onto a tile floor, and on another day thrown into a stack of chairs’ when he was 15: “[My son] is sitting with a female student … My son gets mad, he screams … My son starts running away. Then a male staff member-we don’t know who he is-picks him up and throws him into the tile floor, face first. They’re all on him now, on the tile floor in the cafeteria. Eventually they … pick up my son by his limbs … They took him to room 119, it’s a meeting room … My son threw a pencil across the room and knocked over the table. The male staff member picked him up, and put him in a chokehold. Other staff members come running. Three or four of them tackle him, and he’s thrown to the floor again.”

Another method used is “face-down” or “prone restratint” where grown adult pin children, face to the floor usually pinning their arms behind their backs like police thugs arrest people. The National Disability Rights Network has documented three cases where this method killed students.

The report states: “Prone restraint is ‘one of the most lethal school practices’: sudden fatal cardiac arrhythmia or respiratory arrest can occur through prone restraint. Non-lethal consequences of prone restraint can include cerebral and cerebellar oxygen deprivation, lacerations, abrasions, injury to muscles, contusions or bruising, blunt trauma to the head, neck injury, dislocation of shoulder and other joints, hyperextension of the arms, and decrease in circulation to the extremities.”

Tom R. described the effects of his son being pinned, face-down, by his assistant principal when the boy weighed only 40 lbs.: “”[he] had huge bruises across his chest … on his upper ribs, across both his arms, down both of his legs.”

Rose C.’s 15-year-old autistic son was 5’7″ and 125 lbs. at the time described a heavy teacher pinning him down, giving him a sore neck and breathing difficulty.

“No child should be hit, especially the most vulnerable,” Alice Farmer writes at The Huffington Post, commenting on this report — a report which continuously describes autistic students are assaulted for displaying properties of autism: reacting to external stimuli, rocking, spinning.

I don’t know about you, but I had to stop three times just typing this short post from getting choked up.

The effects of being beaten as a child are no secret: extreme forms of depression, anger, submission, aggression, disengagement, lack of motivation, social communication impairment. Disabled children are literally being beaten for who they are. Any child being beaten is a sad story that damages the ability of a person to interpret the world around them. Those already challenged enough with that are in the hands of power-hungry sadists with a license to violate the most fundamental moral code — the non-aggression principle — against the most defenseless of the defenseless.

I can’t finish without thanking Stefan Molyneux for his amazing work in teaching others to never compromise the non-aggression principle and awakening my consciousness and my heart to the fact that: if we can’t apply this principle to children, we can’t be anywhere near good, virtuous or free.

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