The Daily Gamecock

Physical, cruel punishments too common in US schools

Students are not protected enough from disciplinary violence

Myths of being trapped in the chokey by Ms. Trunchbull in the classic film “Matilda” has haunted children for years, yet promises of safety and security from our government and educators have led us to believe such situations could never possibility occur — until now.

In a recent ABC news report, investigators took a look at child protection laws against cruel behavior in schools after multiple cases received national attention for unusual practices.
In the United States, only 17 states have specific laws protecting school children from harsh and barbaric restraint methods. Seclusion rooms or screen rooms have gained popularity in schools dealing with insubordinate children. These rooms are akin to solitary confinement for children — no windows, dark, quiet and crammed — children are left for hours to ponder what they have done wrong and supposedly learn a lesson to not do it again.

The report featured a video showing high school student Andre McCollins sitting in a computer lab. Teachers approach McCollins from behind and shock him with 60 volts of skin shock therapy, eliciting piercing screams and forcing McCollins to crumble to the ground — all because of his behavioral issues.

In New York City, Corey Foster was playing basketball with other students. After ignoring his teachers’ requests to stop playing, five teachers surrounded Corey and initiated a “correctly performed and state-approved therapeutic hold,” triggering Corey to collapse and go into cardiac arrest leading to his death, which was ruled as an accident according to medical examiners.

Other cases of teachers’ methods for behavioral issues have raised questions of ethics. In Dallas, Texas, a video was taken of a bus monitor clutching a fourth grade boy with autistic characteristics refusing to release him to his mother. The mother screams for the monitor to let him go, asking why her son now is covered in red marks.

In Kentucky, an 8-year-old boy with autism was stuffed into a restraint bag — a small bag with balls in it — to subdue him after he disobeyed his teacher’s instructions.

In 21st-century America, a country that prides itself on opportunity for everyone, freedom of expression and acceptance of diversity, we are hurting children. School is designed as a place where students go to learn, create and become inspired. Success is not a smooth path; there will always be issues students face while pursuing their education and maturing into adults, the phases people go through inherently. To deal with these natural tendencies, locking a child in a sealed closet will accomplish nothing but fostering fear, resentment and the desire for revenge. Correcting a child after misbehavior by talking to them respectfully allows the child to understand why certain behavior is not acceptable. This method may consume more time, even take a few tries, but in the end, the child will eventually understand and maintain respect for that teacher.

After all, teachers are our role models, adults who guide us through our awkward and rebellious stages as people. They don’t judge and are always encouraging. It is for this reason we all sided with Matilda and adored Miss Honey’s charming rhymes over Ms. Trunchbull’s terrifying threats. It’s time to change our facade of justice and pave our true American values into every aspect of our country, no matter how small they many seem.