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Corporal punishment of students with disabilities in US schools (HRW report)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) e a American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) publicaron onte un informe sobre os castigos físicos aplicados a alumnos das escolas públicas nos Estados Unidos. Para contextualizar, cito o artigo da Wikipedia titulado “Corporal punishment”. A énfase é miña:

[…] Corporal punishment of school students for misbehaviour involves striking the student on the buttocks or the palm of the hand in a premeditated ceremony with an implement specially kept for the purpose such as a paddle, or with the open hand.

It is not to be confused with cases where a teacher lashes out on the spur of the moment, which is not “corporal punishment” but violence or brutality, and is illegal almost everywhere.

Corporal punishment used to be prevalent in schools in many parts of the world, but in recent decades it has been outlawed in nearly all of Europe, and in Japan, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and other countries. […]

O informe céntrase nos castigos físicos que se aplican a alumnos discapacitados e leva por título “Impairing Education: Corporal Punishment of Students with Disabilities in US Public Schools”. Copio un extracto da súa introducción:

[…] A 2008 ACLU / HRW report found that corporal punishment in public schools is routine in many parts of the US, and that almost a quarter-of-a-million school children were subjected to this violent, degrading punishment in the 2006-2007 school year. Twenty states permit corporal punishment; in states where the practice is permitted, hundreds of school districts make routine use of it. Corporal punishment comes with risk of serious physical injury and lasting mental trauma. Studies show that beatings can damage the trust between educator and student, corrode the educational environment, and leave the student unable to learn effectively, making it more likely that she will drop out of school.

Students with disabilities –who are entitled to appropriate, inclusive educational programs that give them the opportunity to thrive– are subjected to violent discipline at disproportionately high rates. Students with disabilities make up 19 percent of those who receive corporal punishment, yet just 14 percent of the nationwide student population. Human rights law protects students with disabilities from violence and cruel and inhuman treatment, and guarantees them non-discriminatory access to an inclusive education.

Furthermore, as President Obama noted when signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on July 24, 2009, US law has attempted to ensure that “children with disabilities were no longer excluded … and then no longer denied the opportunity to learn the same skills in the same classroom as other children.” Yet in countless US public schools, students with disabilities-who already face barriers to attaining a quality education-face physical violence that further discourages them from reaching their full potential.

Much of the corporal punishment in US public schools takes the form of paddling. This report focuses on public schools, including mainstream schools (some of which have special education classrooms within those schools) and alternative schools. Some students are paddled, or, in other words, hit on the buttocks several times with a wooden board resembling a shaved-down baseball bat. The punishment causes immediate pain, and in some cases, lasting injury and mental trauma. Paddling, which is legal in 20 states, is routinely used at disproportionately high rates against students with disabilities.

Students with disabilities are routinely subjected to other forms of physical discipline in addition to paddling, impeding their rights to education. Corporal punishment is defined as “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort.” According to interviews conducted for this report, students with disabilities have been subjected to a wide range of corporal punishment, including hitting children with rulers; pinching or striking very young children; grabbing children with enough force to bruise; throwing children to the floor; and bruising or otherwise injuring children in the course of restraint.

Under human rights law, physical force may only be used against students where it is absolutely necessary to protect a child or others, and even then the principle of the minimum necessary amount of force for the shortest period of time must apply. Physical force with intent to punish is never acceptable, and is especially abusive when used to punish students for conduct related to their disabilities.

Corporal punishment can cause deep bruising or other lasting physical or mental injury. Furthermore, it creates a violent, degrading school environment in which all students –and particularly students with disabilities– may struggle to succeed. Research indicates that corporal punishment is rarely effective in teaching students to refrain from violent behavior, and that it causes students to become disengaged and reluctant to learn. […]

11 Agosto 2009 - Posted by | Education, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Politics, United States

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