Last fall, Families as Allies joined a group of organizations from across the state, the Mississippi Coalition to End Corporal Punishment. The group was convened by Ellen Reddy of the Nollie Jenkins Family Center in Durant.
Mississippi is one of only 19 states where corporal punishment is still legal in schools. Even though it is banned in juvenile detention centers, residential treatment facilities, foster care settings, daycare programs, early-learning centers and mental health programs, 113 school districts in the state still allow it.
What is corporal punishment? As defined in the Mississippi code, “corporal punishment” means the reasonable use of physical force or physical contact by a teacher, assistant teacher, principal or assistant principal, as may be necessary to maintain discipline, to enforce a school rule, for self-protection or for the protection of other students from disruptive students. Corporal punishment in schools has been shown to cause poor academic performance, physical and emotional harm, and damage to students’ self-esteem and to their trust with educators. Corporal punishment in the classroom disproportionately impacts students of color.
Members of the coalition were invited last month to join a group of nationally recognized experts on corporal punishment in presenting at a congressional virtual briefing hosted by Representative Donald McEachin, one of the authors of The Protecting Our Students in Schools Act of 2021. This legislation would end the use of corporal punishment in the classroom and would implement enforcement protections and invest in states and school districts through the establishment of a grant program aimed at improving school climate and culture. Congressman Bennie G. Thompson is also one of the original co-sponsors.
The coalition will continue its work in organizing and seeks to add members and organizations. If you would like to join in this effort, either as an individual or as an organization, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to express your support for ending corporal punishment in Mississippi schools sign this petition. Organizations that would like to join the coalition can download this letter of support and send it to Ellen Reddy at email@example.com.