Dear Editor

In response to the call to end corporal punishment in Gulf County, I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Reed. The American Academy of Pediatrics has done multiple studies regarding this issue and the data is clear. Corporal punishment harms children.

It is easy to continue a practice when “It has always been done this way” or “I was paddled at school and I turned out fine.” We must seek data driven resources when it comes to our students’ physical and mental well- being. Based on the professional opinion of pediatricians and data driven research, the Gulf County School Board has an obligation to study the research and do away with corporal punishment for the safety of all students.

The Human Rights Watch and ACLU together created a researched based statement regarding corporal punishment. Here are some highlights:

-Students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately subjected to corporal punishment.

-Schools perform worse academically in states that still use corporal punishment.

-Students report problems with depression, fear, and anger after being paddled.

-Students who are paddled are academically disengaged, develop deteriorating peer relationships, lowered school achievement, have difficulty concentrating, develop an intense dislike of authority, and are at a high-risk for developing negative behavior.

-The presence of physical violence affects all students by creating an overall threatening school atmosphere.

-Corporal punishment is a destructive and ineffective form of discipline.

It is time for our school board to embrace data driven research when making policies. Effective leaders look beyond their own opinions and seek out credible resources when making decisions. If the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Human Rights Watch, and the ACLU have concluded based on research that corporal punishment is destructive I cannot think of one reason this practice should continue.

I invite anyone who would like to discuss this further to please email me.

Susan Kotelman

Mom of three at PSJHS