Missouri School District Reinstates Corporal Punishment

Nidhi Nair, Editor-in-Chief

Just last month, Cassville School District in Missouri adopted a district policy that allows students to receive corporal punishment including spanking if their parents give permission. This approach towards student discipline has received a multitude of backlash from the community, questioning why an outdated practice such as spanking has been brought back to this day and age.

The district originally ceased their practice of spanking in 2001, but the school board recently approved to reinstate it in June of 2022. The interest in implementing a policy such as this one was heightened after an anonymous survey expressed that the majority of parents, students and school officials were weary of student behavior and disciplinary methods. 

NPR quotes, “The policy states that corporal punishment will be used only when other forms of discipline, such as suspensions, have failed and then only with the superintendent’s permission.” The policy states that the spanking will only be administered by “certified personnel” with a district employee serving as witness. It additionally assures that the corporal punishment performed will not result in any bodily injury or harm, and that hitting a student on their face or head is not allowed.

In response to this district policy, lawmakers and community organizers across the country are demanding that action be taken to prevent corporal punishment. Within Missouri, efforts to ban corporal punishment in schools and to revoke the policy have failed within the Legislature. Since the decision was made at a local district level, the state of Missouri is not able to keep track of which districts enforce spanking. On a national scale, U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy from Connecticut is encouraging a ban on the use of spanking in all public schools, claiming it an abusive practice. On an international scale, the United Nations is advocating for countries to ban corporal punishment altogether, considering it to be a major human rights violation.

Despite the controversy and ongoing argument about this particular policy, Missouri is not the only state where corporal punishment is legal; in fact, it is legal in 18 other states as well. “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that corporal punishment is constitutional and left it up to states to set their own policies,” as stated by ABC News. “The most current data from 2017-18 shows about 70,000 children in the U.S. were hit at least once in their schools,” which further sheds light on the significance of this policy.