New Orleans Saints’ linebacker Demario Davis and Seattle Seahawks’ receiver Doug Baldwin penned an op-ed for the Hill, in which they called for a ban on corporal punishment in schools.
“Much like in the criminal justice system, prejudice in our schools has also been institutionalized,” wrote Davis and Baldwin. “For states that allow corporal punishment, a minor offense or mistake can lead to lasting mental, emotional and physical effects for students.”
Davis and Baldwin pointed out that corporal punishment is still legal in 19 states, and they provided data pointing to minority and disabled students being disproportionately targeted.
“According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection, more than 106,000 children received corporal punishment during the 2013-14 school year, and black students and students with disabilities are disproportionately affected by these practices,” wrote Davis and Baldwin. “In the 2013-14 school year, in public schools where corporal punishment existed, black students made up 22 percent of students enrolled, but represented 38 percent of students who received corporal punishment.”
They point out that black females have been a major target.
“Black girls are overrepresented among girls who receive corporal punishment,” wrote Davis and Baldwin. “In 2013-14, black girls were just 16 percent of girls enrolled in public schools but 48 percent of girls who received corporal punishment.”
As for disabled students, they claim: “Students with disabilities, who make up 11 percent of students in schools that use corporal punishment made up 15 percent of corporal punishment cases.”
Davis and Baldwin don’t feel this sort of discipline is effective.
“Corporal punishment does not improve behavior,” wrote the pair. “In fact, spanking can be associated with increased aggression and behavioral issues, poor mental health, reduced cognitive ability and low self-esteem.
“States that continue to allow corporal punishment have higher rates of child poverty and mortality, lower college graduation rates and spend less per student than states that have banned it.”
Davis and Baldwin called out the state of Kentucky.
“Just last school year in Kentucky, over 400 incidents of corporal punishment were reported — an increase from the year before,” they wrote.
Davis and Baldwin have the support of former United States Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. and Congressman Alcee Hastings of Florida, in their effort to end corporal punishment. Hastings recently introduced a bill that would cut off funding to schools that allow this form of discipline.
In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that corporal punishment in public schools wasn’t cruel and unusual punishment and doesn’t violate the constitution.
The two players are board members of the Player’s Coalition, a group NFL players looking to make an impact on social justice and racial equality at the federal, state and local levels. This organization was founded in 2017.