WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on Thursday announced that he is introducing Senate legislation that would eliminate the use of corporal punishment in schools across America. The Protecting Our Students in Schools Act provides a broader definition of corporal punishment and prohibits the practice of corporal punishment in any school that receives federal funding. The legislation would also establish much-needed enforcement protections and a federal grant program to assist states and school districts in improving the climate and culture of schools across the country. Earlier this year, U.S. Representatives A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) and Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Corporal punishment in the classroom is never acceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated,” said Murphy. “Kids go to school to learn in a safe, nurturing environment, and we should never condone students being hit as a means of discipline. It teaches children that violence is an acceptable response, and creates a culture of fear inside schools that is not conducive to learning. And unfortunately, physical punishment, like many other forms of school discipline, is disproportionately used on students of color and those with disabilities, making these reforms all the more desperately needed.”

“No evidence exists demonstrating that corporal punishment in schools is an effective response to student behavior, and yet nearly 20 states permit the sanctioned use of physical violence against students in the classroom,” said Congressman McEachin. “The federal government must eradicate this disgraceful practice in our schools that disproportionately impacts students of color and students with disabilities. I am pleased to lead this critical legislation alongside my colleagues, Representative Suzanne Bonamici and Senator Chris Murphy, to ensure that all students in federally-funded schools can flourish in a safe, healthy and high-quality learning environment.”

“Schools must be safe spaces for all students to learn and reach their full potential,” said Congresswoman Bonamici. “It is unconscionable that corporal punishment is still allowed in many states, subjecting students to physical harm that can cause long-lasting damage to their physical, mental, and academic well-being. It is especially troubling that corporal punishment has long been disproportionately used against Black students and students with disabilities. I’m leading the Protecting Our Students in Schools Act with Rep. McEachin and Sen. Murphy to finally end corporal punishment in our schools, and support practices such as positive behavioral intervention supports (PBIS), that promote safe and positive learning environments.”

Protecting Our Students in Schools Act seeks to:

·         Prohibit the practice of corporal punishment in any school that receives federal funding;

·         Establish a series of important and much-needed enforcement protections, including a private right of action, the involvement of the attorney general and the Office for Civil Rights, and a series of rigorous reporting requirements for states and school districts; and

·         Invest in states and school districts by establishing a grant program to assist in efforts to improve school climate and culture by implementing positive, proactive measures, including positive behavioral interventions and supports, trauma-informed care, restorative justice interventions, implicit bias training, and culturally responsive teaching to reduce exclusionary and averse discipline practices.

For full text of the legislation click here.

This legislation is supported by the Education Trust, American Federation of Teachers, Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, National Association Of Secondary School Principals, the Intercultural Development Research Association, Campaign for Youth Justice, the National PTA, Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma, U.S. Alliance to End the Hitting of Children, American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, National Initiative to End Corporal Punishment, Nollie Jenkins Family Center, Inc., the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence, the Council for Exceptional Children, the Southern Education Foundation, the Academy of Violence and Abuse.