Sweden banned it in the late 1970s, while New Zealand, Mongolia, Slovenia, Paraguay and Lithuania forbade it in just the past couple of years.
We’re talking about corporal punishment of children in preschools – something that gets little attention but is still allowed in public schools in 19 U.S. states, including Colorado, and in even more private schools nationwide.
An investigation by Education Week showed that in the 2013-2014 school year, about 110,000 students were physically punished nationwide. In some states, including Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas, tens of thousands of students are paddled every year.
Overwhelming evidence shows that beating children harms them physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.
Corporal punishment, as education and mental health experts know, does not teach a child how to act properly.
In fact, it often does just the reverse, teaching a child that physical force is the way to resolve conflict.
Perhaps worse still, corporal punishment is associated with higher drop-out rates, increased rates of depression and substance abuse and increased violent episodes later in life.
Regardless, it’s not unusual for parents to support the use of the principal’s paddle as a form of discipline. Recent surveys show about 75 percent of Americans believe it’s sometimes necessary to spank a child.
On the other hand, it’s unknown how many of those same Americans are OK with anyone but a parent doing the spanking. And that’s where teachers and school owners can get into trouble, facing the potential of lawsuits from parents who don’t like the idea of their child receiving a swatting from someone outside of the family.
Coverage for corporal punishment is provided under some insurance carriers’ general liability policies, but that’s not the case with every policy in the market. You’ll want to look for a specific “endorsement,” or add-on, that addresses corporate punishment liability.
Teacher misconduct also should be covered under an educator’s professional liability policy. Such policies will help you defend your school if it’s named in a lawsuit and will pay the settlement costs, too.
Lawsuits against educators have been rising over the past decade. According to an American Tort Reform Association survey, almost one-third of all high school principals have been involved in a lawsuit in the past couple of years, compared to only 9 percent 10 years ago.
That’s reason enough for privately owned schools to consider obtaining coverage that goes well above their state’s minimum requirements. After all, without adequate coverage, even a single incident could take a big chunk of your annual profits to resolve.
Joaquin Escobar, an Insurance Advisor at CCIG, handles the risk management and insurance needs of commercial childcare and school accounts. Reach him at 720-212-2054 or JoaquinE@thinkccig.com.
CCIG is a Denver-area insurance brokerage with the full-service capabilities of a national brokerage. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We also help you manage your long-term cost of risk with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.