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Corporal punishment still used in many East TN schools, state report finds

A new study shows corporal punishment is still used in many East Tennessee schools despite research saying it's not the best punishment option.

A new state report shows 109 of the state's 148 school districts still allow corporal punishment, including many districts in East Tennessee. However, experts say the form of punishment is not recommended anymore.

"I had no idea that so many schools were still on board with that," said Amanda Gilliam of Thriveworks therapy center.

"Really what we're doing now is shifting the definition of discipline from punishment to education," she said.

Researchers in Texas have also linked corporal punishment with bad behavior later in life.

"We found that experiencing corporal punishment as a child was related to later perpetration of dating violence against an intimate partner," said Dr. Jeff Temple of University of Texas.

According to the report from the Tennessee Comptroller's Office of Research and Education Accountability, the use of corporal punishment varies regardless of whether a district allows it.

Out of all districts allowing it, only 40 percent reported using corporal punishment. The trend is moving down, but there is a disparity between students with disabilities and those who do not have disabilities. From 2009 to 2014, corporal punishment for non-disabled students dropped 46 percent while corporal punishment for disabled students dropped only 7 percent.

Monroe County Schools is one of the many districts in East Tennessee using this form of punishment. However, the county describes it as an uncommonly used last resort.

"Corporal punishment is our last resort. We try positive reinforcement, in school suspension, counseling and alternative school first. Sometimes, even if the parents opt in for it, we decide it's not the right option," said Tim Blankenship, Monroe County Schools Superintendent.

It is important to note that the study relied fully on self-reports for schools so there are room for errors. Also, it takes three years to develop results, so the findings we're talking about are from 2009 to 2014.