Seventy four students from Louisville’s St. Agnes School and Notre Dame Academy joined state Representatives Jim Wayne, Mary Lou Marzian and Joni Jenkins at a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda today in support of House Bill 393, a measure that would prohibit corporal punishment in all Kentucky school districts. The legislation would also prohibit church-related privately operated child-care agencies or homes from using corporal physical discipline.
Rep. Wayne filed the bill after students from St. Agnes and Notre Dame Academy attended the Kentucky Youth Assembly, a YMCA sponsored program that teaches the legislative process in a mock government experience. A bill eliminating corporal punishment was introduced by both schools and St. Agnes students contacted Rep. Wayne about filing the legislation.
Rep. Wayne is a psychotherapist who works with schools and believes corporal punishment is ineffective. “Spanking and other forms of corporal punishment send the wrong message to children and do not teach them proper ways to manage their anger and impulses. I am honored to sponsor House Bill 393 and am impressed by the work Ms. Allison Milby’s students at St. Agnes put into their legislation at the KYA.”
Elizabeth George, a seventh grader at St. Agnes said, “Corporal Punishment is cruel and unfair, and as we researched, we discovered that corporal punishment is actually a type of abuse. Kentucky does not support abuse, therefore we should not support corporal punishment.”
Alex Young, also from St. Agnes, agreed. “The only difference that Kentucky currently recognizes between corporal punishment and child abuse, is that the harm inflicted by corporal punishment cannot be serious or cruel. As students, the use of corporal punishment scares us; as Kentuckians it is embarrassing that this is still legal.”
Rep. Joni Jenkins abhors corporal punishment in schools and cited a federal Department of Education study that reported students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately subjected to corporal punishment, hampering their access to a supportive learning environment.
“Corporal punishment as a means of discipline in schools is intolerable, especially when our most vulnerable children are victims. I am proud of Ms. Daivie Kay and Ms. Suzanne’s Stewart’s students at Notre Dame Academy who championed this issue so effectively and helped bring about House Bill 393.”
Notre Dame Academy eighth grader Allie Hoover said, “At the time of our research, we discovered that 19 states allowed corporal punishment to be used on kindergarten students through high school seniors. Organizations such as the Human Rights Watch and the ACLU spoke out against corporal punishment at a hearing before the House Education and Labor subcommittee, and now we are speaking out too. House Bill 393, forbidding the practice of corporal punishment in Kentucky schools, defines Kentucky as a state that cares about its students and the educational climate of its schools.”
Rep. Marzian praised all of the students for their advocacy and teamwork. “Getting a bill through the legislative process takes accurate research, consensus building and great communication skills. The seventh and eighth graders from St. Agnes and Notre Dame Academy utilized all of these qualities in bringing this bill to us and I congratulate them and their teachers on their success.”