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As the district loosens its corporal punishment rules, researchers and child-development experts have turned against physical discipline of children, linking it to increased aggression, anxiety and depression in kids. Physical discipline in adolescents may be particularly harmful.
"People quite often see that it stops the [bad] behavior today or it stops the behavior this week," said Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, a professor of social work at the University of Michigan who has studied physical punishment internationally. "I think we're just less able to see that it's a really powerful negative shaper of behavior over time."
The Texas controversy began after two parents in Springtown, Texas, complained that their daughters had been paddled by male faculty hard enough to leave welts and bruises. The Springtown school district policy allowed paddling by a same-sex faculty member as long as parents had not filed paperwork opting their children out of the punishment.
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