2019 Session: Bill to ban corporal punishment on students with disabilities advances

Local News

Update:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A bill that would ban the use of corporal punishment on students with disabilities cleared its first hurdle.

When St. Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, tried to ban the practice altogether in public schools in 2017, she was the only “yes” vote in the Senate Education Committee.

However on Wednesday morning, the same panel unanimously approved Elliott’s ban on corporal punishment on students with disabilities, which includes kids who are autistic, non-verbal, non-ambulatory or intellectually disabled.

When asked by some of the committee members what corporal punishment entails, Elliott said, “It involves the physical striking of a kid as a way of punishment. The kind that many people still do today. We just want to exclude those kids with disabilities.”

Arkansas is one of 19 states where it is still legal to hit public school children as a form of punishment.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, corporal punishment makes kids more aggressive and raises the risk of mental health issues.

The bill now moves to the full Senate for debate. 

Original story: 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new bill would ban the use of corporal punishment on students with disabilities. 

Arkansas is one of 19 states where it is still legal to hit public school children as a form of punishment.

Throughout her work on the legislation, St. Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, found a lot of people don’t realize corporal punishment also applies to students with disabilities.

During the last session in 2017, Elliott tried to get rid of corporal punishment in schools altogther, but she was the only yes vote so the bill didn’t make it out of committee.

Elliott is coming back this session with something she hopes has better success. She said she knows many still disagree with her but argues the research is on her side that this kind of discipline is not an effective way to change a child’s behavior.

“That is just so centrally important, I think, for having kids know how to get along in the world and not think things have to be physical,” Elliott said. “For example, we teach kids on the playground to be nice to each other, don’t hit one another, have good playground skills. I think we should model that.”

Elliott plans to run the legislation for the first time next week.

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