LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Getting hit or facing a paddle as punishment is a practice a lot of people might remember from decades ago in grade school, but for some Kentucky students, it's still happening.
House Bill 22, which passed out of the state House on Friday, would outlaw corporal punishment in Kentucky schools, though. It still has to be approved by the Senate.
A bipartisan group of legislators speaking in favor of the bill recounted past punishments they received. They noted the physical discipline didn’t do a whole to change their behavior, and that, for some, it leaves lasting negative impacts.
The bill would make it illegal to hit, paddle or shake students as a form of punishment.
“I think it is so exciting and it’s long overdue,” Dr. Melissa Currie, a forensic pediatrician in Louisville, said.
Currie added that she’s seen related cases from around the state.
“Those that are still using it will most likely use a paddle or some implement,” Currie said.
It may seem like an antiquated practice, but she said around 20 percent of Kentucky school districts still have active corporal punishment programs.
“There were nearly 300 incidents of corporal punishment in Kentucky last year,” Currie said. “So, there’s still a significant amount happening.”
In the region, according to KidsCount.org, one of those was in Hart County.
Before that, the most recent recordings of the punishment in the WAVE 3 News coverage area of Kentucky were during the 2015-2016 school year, when four cases were reported in Grayson County.
“Every child that’s affected by corporal punishment has the potential for both short- and long-term consequences,” Currie said.
Currie said research shows negative emotional, mental and educational outcomes often accompany the practice she hopes will soon be outlawed.
Advocates also stated that removing violence from schools helps prevent children from becoming violent adults.
Toni Konz Tatman, the interim chief communications officer for the Kentucky Department of Education, issued a statement to WAVE 3 News on its views of House Bill 22.
“We are working really hard in Kentucky to equip our educators with the knowledge and resources they need to think differently about student discipline,” said Interim Education Commissioner Kevin C. Brown. “Corporal punishment affects the lifelong aggression and mental health of our children. Research has shown that this form of discipline may adversely affect a student's self-image and school achievement and may actually contribute to disruptive and violent student behavior. Corporal punishment goes against the research and the direction of education in the Commonwealth and across the nation.”
KDE fully supports implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports in schools, which is an evidence-based three-tiered framework that helps schools improve and integrate all of the data, systems, and practices affecting student outcomes every day.
“We fully believe that this is the best direction for reframing misbehavior and working to support our students,” Brown said.