Few Utahns Believe Corporal Punishment is Acceptable

Few Utahns Believe Corporal Punishment is Acceptable

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Tonya Papanikolas ReportingA new Survey USA study shows how Utahns feel about corporal punishment. The survey asked about disciplining a child both at home and in the schools.

Utahns felt very strongly about teachers not disciplining students. When it comes to disciplining a child at home, things like spanking are a little more controversial.

It's hard to look at hard-working 3rd and 4th graders from Fox Hills Elementary and think of unruly kids. But schools these days need to know how to address student behavior problems.

Jan Winger, Fox Hills Elementary Principal: "If we need to, we'll call parents in. If it's an extreme disruption, we'll send them home."

In days of old, teachers often spanked students. But times have changed and many parents don't agree with that type of discipline.

Anita Merrill, Parent: "That's not the teacher's place, that's my place. If it's gonna happen, it needs to be me that does it."

A new Survey USA study shows only 15-percent of Utahns agree that it's okay for teachers to spank students. Compare that to 53-percent in Arkansas and Missisippi.

Jan Winger: "In Utah now, I think it's just the norm that we don't use physical aggression with the students."

Statewide, Utah law prohibits corporal punishment in schools, unless written permission is given by the student's parent. Most districts have their own policies. The Granite School District, which Fox Hills belongs to, does not allow it. Psychologist Douglas Goldsmith thinks that's wise.

Dr. Douglas Goldsmith, The Children's Center Psychologist: "The research we see says this is not teaching them a lesson. In fact, what we do know from very good research is spanking a child increases the likelihood they'll be aggressive outside of the home."

Survey USA also polled people about home discipline. Sixty-five-percent of Utahns said it was okay to spank a child and 38-percent said it was okay to wash a child's mouth out with soap. Dr. Goldsmith disagrees.

Dr. Goldsmith: "The spanking, with the soap, what the tobasco says, is the parent is so frustrated, they don't know what else to do."

Dr. Goldsmith says one of the best ways to discipline a child is to put them in a brief timeout and then talk to the child about what they can do better next time.

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