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Corporal Punishment Essay

1770 words - 7 pages

The deciding factor in the future of corporal punishment is seen in the Ingraham v. Wright Supreme Court case. In 1970, James Ingraham, an eighth grade student of Drew Junior High School was one of the many beneficiaries of corporal punishment distributed by Willie Wright, the principal of the high school. The rationality behind Ingraham’s punishment was that he was slow to respond to his teacher instructions. As a result, his teacher sent him to the principal office where he bent over the table was given twenty licks with a paddle. The paddling was so severe, according to the Ingraham’s doctor, he needed to miss weeks of school due to hematoma on his buttocks. Defined by Merriam-Webster, a hematoma is clotted blood that forms in a tissue by broken blood vessels. Subsequently, a ninth grade student at the same school, Roosevelt Andrews, also suffered egregious attacks for minor offenses. Principal Wright on two occasions punished Andrews for anticipating a late arrival to a class he was in route to. During the first attack, Andrews was hit with a wooded paddle on the buttocks and over the arm. This beating deprived him of full access from his injured arm for weeks. The second punishment, though, more vicious due to carelessness and a lack of official oversight, Andrews was hit from his neck to legs. According to Newell (1972) in referencing The Children’s petition of 1669, teachers and administrators have taken up an office they are unable to manage; the evidence of mismanagement is seen in corporal punishment.
The Florida Association of School Psychologists says the state of Florida law reveals corporal punishment as allowable by teachers, but if students are injured by severe beatings to sue school officials to recover their damages. As a result, school officials could face criminal charges in such cases. Justice Powell of the Supreme Court says,
civil and criminal charges are enough to protect students who receive beatings that are unfair or too harsh. He continues to say, this can develop to be too expensive and time consuming and that the country is split on this issue… yet we can discern no trend towards the elimination of corporal punishment by making it so costly (Hyman and Wise, 1979, p. 184).
After a losing battle Ingraham faced, both in the U.S. and State Supreme Court, Principal Wright and his colleagues around the country were able to continue in practicing physical discipline, even with the new added uncertainty surrounding it. This case increased the awareness of corporal punishment in Florida and around the country, especially extreme where this level of discipline was displayed in schools. As seen in this trial, the collaborative effort by the justice departments and their want to stay out of state-based issues, sided with the Florida law and educational system because they believed that the actions toward Ingraham and Andrews were justifiable on the basis that they were in school and because educators...

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