Representative Stephanie Hilferty’s House Bill 324 which would have prohibited corporal punishment in Louisiana’s public elementary and secondary schools failed to pass today with 50 nays and 47 yeas.
Today, more than half of Louisiana’s Representatives who voted were in favor of corporal punishment. Louisiana’s definition of “battery” is remarkably like our state’s definition of “corporal punishment”, making it difficult not to see today’s vote as blatant approval of battery against children.
Oddly, the logical argument against corporal punishment is simple and it is already expressed in Louisiana’s laws that protect people from battery.
Louisiana’s Revised Statues defines battery as “the intentional use of force or violence upon the person of another” (RS 14:33), and states “simple battery is a battery committed without the consent of the victim”. Louisiana’s laws define and prohibit “domestic abuse battery” (R.S. §35.3), simple battery of persons with infirmities (R.S. §35.2.), and battery of a child welfare or adult protective service worker (R.S. §35.1.).
Battery is discouraged as unlawful. We all know we should not intentionally hurt others. “Whoever commits a simple battery shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both. (RS 14.35).”
Sadly, the one place where battery against Children is permitted is in Louisiana’s public elementary and secondary schools. While a Child slapped by an adult neighbor is the victim of an act of battery which is prohibited by law, a Child slapped by a teacher is allowed as an approved act of student discipline.
Louisiana law explicitly permits the following techniques for corporal punishment: “hitting, paddling, striking, spanking, slapping, or any other physical force that causes pain or physical discomfort” [LA Rev Stat § 17:416.1] against Children in elementary school, subject to each school’s “governing authority”.
While battery against an adult is against the law, the same act against a child is educational. Aren’t we better than this, Louisiana?