Oklahoma strikes down bill to end corporal punishment for students with disabilities

Oklahoma lawmakers on Tuesday struck down a bill that, if passed, would have ended the use of corporal punishment on students with disabilities.

Corporal punishment is defined in the bill as “deliberately inflicting physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping or using any other physical force used as a means of discipline”. Legislation would have prohibited the use of this form of punishment on students with disabilities under the Education for Persons with Disabilities Act.

The vote for the bill was 45 to 43 in favor of passing it, according to KFOR. But the bill ultimately failed as a majority of 51 lawmakers was needed to pass.

Rep. John Talley (right) is the author of the bill, saying corporal punishment of students with disabilities ‘has no place in the classroom’ and that ‘responsibility and grace go hand in hand “, reports KFOR. But other Republicans voted against the bill, some citing scripture as justification.

“Proverbs 29: ‘The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother'”, Rep. Jim Olsen (R) saidadding that the biblical line seems to “endorse the use of corporal punishment”.

He also has provide an example of a voter who said her child with a disability “didn’t respond to positive motivation”, but “responded very well to corporal punishment”.

Meanwhile, Rep. Cyndi Munson (D), who voted in favor of the bill, spoke about her experiences with child abuse and why corporal punishment should be banned.

“My mother used chopsticks to pat me on the back…She pulled my hair to make me listen, to behave,” she said. saidadding that she has spent more than a decade working with psychologists and therapists to overcome her childhood trauma.

She said her father used positive reinforcement and spoke kindly to encourage her and her siblings to behave. But she added that the amount of love he gave her was – through no fault of hers – not enough to compensate for the way her mother treated them.

“So imagine a kid going to school, not ‘behaving’,” she said. “Whether or not they have a disability, a child should go to a safe place.”

According to Hechinger Report19 states, including Oklahoma, allow the use of corporal punishment on public school students. At the national level, more than 69,000 students almost received corporal punishment 97,000 times during the 2017-18 school year.

A recent study found that among estimated 291 million children and adolescents with disabilities around the world, nearly a third of them have suffered violence, NPR reports. Moreover, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)students with disabilities face disproportionately high rates of corporal punishment nationwide, often being subjected to it as a means of discipline for behaviors related to their disabilities and conditions, such as Tourette syndrome and autism.

For example, in Tennessee, students with disabilities are paddled at more than twice the rate of the general student population. But the The ACLU said that these statistics are likely an undercount of the violence faced by students with disabilities, as there is no mandatory reporting of the many types of corporal punishment that occur.

The use of force and harmful punishment is not a new or unusual experience for people with disabilities, advocates note. For example, the author himself smith pointed out in a Tweeter respond to the failure of the Oklahoma bill by asserting that the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Massachusetts uses electric shock devices on autistic students, despite decades of attempts to plead for an end.

According to Disability Rights and Education Fund (DREDF), children use behavior to communicate their needs. As a result, they risk losing educational benefits by inappropriately disciplining, suspending, or placing them in restrictive settings.

Schools across the United States have instead adopted Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), A evidence-based tiered framework used to support the behavioral, academic, social, emotional and mental health needs of students and greatly benefits students with disabilities.


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