In the not-so-olden days, it was not uncommon for teachers to use a wicked-looking paddle or belt to inflict punishment on unruly students.

But Utah lawmakers seem to agree that public school officials should be banned from spanking or otherwise hurting students. However, the same standard may not hold for private school officials.The House, in a 36-35 vote, agreed to an amendment exempting all private and religious schools from the provisions of SB32, which prohibits the corporal punishment of children.

That didn't set well with Rep. Christine Fox, R-Lehi, who said abuse of children should not be tolerated whether it be in private or public schools. "If you use corporal punishment, fact is you do it to make yourself feel better. But you don't change the behavior of the child," Fox said.

But House Majority Whip Byron Harward argued that Fox's argument could be extended to prohibit corporal punishment in private homes - something no one in the Legislature intends with the current bill.

"If we assume the parents have the right to use it, then parents should have the right to delegate that responsibility in certain circumstances," he said. In fact, many parents sent their children to private schools just so they can be disciplined.

The House has yet to take action on the amended bill.