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Illinois bill would ban corporal punishment in private schools

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(The Center Square) – A measure advancing in Illinois seeks to ban corporal punishment in all private schools. Opponents are concerned the measure could be misinterpreted and school coaches asking for more pushups could be in violation of the proposed law.

House Bill 4175 passed last week out of the House and was sent to the Senate. The bill seeks to ban corporal punishment in all private schools in Illinois.

Corporal punishment is legal in all private schools in the nation except New Jersey, Iowa, New York and Maryland. Corporal punishment is legal in public schools in 17 states. In Illinois, current law says school boards are not allowed to include corporal punishment within their board policies.

State Rep. Margaret Croke, D-Chicago, is a sponsor of HB4175.

“When I was working with [Illinois State Board of Education], because we were going to extend this to private schools, they suggested we do an explicit ban that includes both public and private schools in school code,” said Croke.

Croke said the bill doesn’t apply to home schools. State Rep. Tom Weber, R-Lake Villa, asked if Croke’s bill would apply to private military schools.

“For someone that graduated out of military academy, there were oftentimes probably, I would say, experienced pain, whether it was push ups, standing at attention,” he said. “Would military schools be exempt?”

Croke said it would apply to all private schools K-12.

Currently, there are four states in the nation that have banned corporal punishment in private schools. Corporal punishment as defined by Illinois is a discipline method in which a person deliberately inflicts pain upon a student in response to the student’s unacceptable behavior with an aim to halt an offense, prevent recurrence or set an example for others. It doesn’t include physical restraint.

“The reason the bill was created is because the American Association of Pediatrics renewed their call to ban it outright in both private and public schools,” said Croke. “It’s not currently banned in private schools in Illinois. The reason we added it is because I personally don’t believe that anyone should be hitting children in schools regardless if they are private or public.”

State Rep. Daniel Swanson, R-Alpha, raised concerns about the bill, if enacted, applying to coaches.

“There was a concern if a coach had a student doing extra push ups or an extra lap because of a mistake at a ball game or making a mistake at practice, that could be viewed as inflicting punishment on that athlete,” said Swanson.

Croke said she didn’t believe that under her bill a coach saying “run more laps” would be viewed as corporal punishment.

“Maybe a coach said, ‘run laps,’ in that case I don’t believe this would apply,” she said. “When we tell a kid to run laps, the goal is not necessarily to inflict pain. Just to make sure that there’s clarification, let’s say there was a complaint, ISBE still has to do a full investigation.”

A recent survey by Test Prep Insight involving 3,000 parents has brought to light a growing trend towards “authoritarian parenting.” The data indicates a near-majority shift to stricter parenting, with 49% of parents reporting a tightening grip on their children’s academic life driven by an anxiety to navigate them towards future job security.

In Illinois, the data shows that parents are even more concerned, with 56% embracing stricter rules amid concerns for their children’s futures.

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