Corporal Punishment Ban Praised by Secular Coalition for America

Bill Takes Important Steps Toward Ending Religious Privilege, Protecting Children

Today, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) introduced the Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act, a bill that would prohibit corporal punishment in all public and private schools that receive tax dollars. Currently, only two states ban corporal punishment in both private and public schools, though 30 states ban the practice in public schools.

The Secular Coalition for America, the national advocacy organization for Secular Americans,  including atheists, agnostics, humanists and other freethinkers, heralded the bill’s introduction as a positive step toward ending religious privilege in policy affecting and harming children.

Many religious organizations and leaders—such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family who has made a handsome living in part by selling books on using corporal punishment on children—believe that the Bible requires them to employ corporal punishment to discipline children. The Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act mandates that students in private schools that receive any federal funds are treated the same as their public school counterparts and protected from this form of state-sanctioned violence against children.

Exempting religious private schools from a ban on corporal punishment would mean that the government is authorizing the use of physical violence as a form of punishment for a specific set of children. The Secular Coalition for America believes that children in religious schools are no less human – and no less deserving of safety from physical harm -- than any other children.
 
“There are no ‘special rights’ to harm children.  If corporal punishment is an improper use of our tax dollars in public schools, it is improper within religious schools as well,” said Sean Faircloth, Secular Coalition Executive Director. “The government’s interest in protecting children from the dangers associated with corporal punishment cannot be met if religious private schools are exempted from the law.”

“Some states also exempt federally funded religious child care centers from minimum health and safety requirements by which all secular child care entities must abide,” added Faircloth. “Common sense and basic compassion require that the Congress pass the Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act, and end all religious privilege that puts any child in danger.”

For Immediate Release: June 29, 2010
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, 202-299-1091 / paul(at)secular.org

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