Corporal punishment is alive and well in Texas

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramMarch 7, 2011 

In Olney schools, student athletes can get paddled for disrespecting their teachers or coaches.

At Ennis High school, misbehaving students may receive swats -- but only twice every nine weeks.

And in Wink, middle and high school students who cuss at other students, set fires or steal could get a double dose of punishment: Three days of in-school suspension and three swats.

Corporal punishment is alive and well in Texas schools and, in most cases, the discipline is clearly defined in student handbooks.

But what about at home?

While there is an ongoing national debate about corporal punishment in public schools -- including an anti-paddling bill in the Texas House -- the discipline also continues to be a hot topic in the private sector, where parents and guardians make personal decisions on how to discipline their children.

Many parents regularly spank their children, while others would never consider it. And plenty of parents have questions about the legality of it.

Can I get arrested if I spank my child in public? (No.) Is using a belt considered child abuse? (It depends.) Is it OK for a licensed day-care worker to spank my kid? (Never.)

In Texas, the law gives parents, stepparents, grandparents and legal guardians leeway in disciplining their children, but authorities stress that corporal punishment must be "reasonable" and not cross the line into abuse.

"Every case is different, but some things that could constitute abuse would be using something other than your hand, leaving marks or bruises, or hitting in the face," said Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services.

To read the complete article, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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