Spanking is Still Happening in the Schools

"In parts of America, getting spanked at school with a wooden or fiberglass board is just part of being a misbehaving student." I, like perhaps many of you, was incredibly shocked to find that spanking, or corporal punishment, is still alive and well in schools across the country. Schools are the only public institution where it is still legal, as the practice is not allowed in prisons, hospitals, mental institutions or the military.

According to the Center for Effective Discipline, corporal punishment is still legal in the 19 states listed below. On their website you can find information about the (non)effectiveness of the practice, and more information about data particular to your state.

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wyoming

The justification for the continued practice by many is offered as the, "I got my butt beat and I know what's right and wrong...And my children are going to know what's right and wrong." Only, some studies show that the opposite can be true, kids who are struck are more likely to result to striking others in order to deal with their frustration.

What is also troubling to me, aside from the fact that parents might be blindsided if they didn't know they lived in one of the states listed above, is that people can be so nonchalant about children being considered "repeat offenders." If a child is being punished this way multiple times, and the behavior is not being corrected, how effective is the method?

What I found particularly interesting about the data, was the following added in the notes of the page detailing the states' data:

African-American students comprise 17% of all public school students in the U.S., but are 36% of those who have corporal punishment inflicted on them, more than twice the rate of white students.

Almost 40% of all the cases of corporal punishment occur in just two states: Texas and Mississippi, and if we add Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia, these five states account for almost three quarters of all the nation’s school paddlings.

This article has more in depth information about the types of situations in which this punishment is inflicted. Things such as persistent tardiness, throwing things, or even back-talking. Additionally, the implements or paddles themselves are not regulated by law, so it is up to the individual schools determine how they will fashion their paddles.

Furthermore, not requiring parental consent means that children can be touched when their parents would object, such as the case of a mother of a 5 year old boy who was paddled (allegedly leaving welts) by his principal for smacking another boy with his hand. I just can't get past the irony of this one--5 year old boy, you are not allowed to hit another boy, but because you did, in order to teach you not to hit, I'm going to spank you??

Aside from the actual effectiveness of the punishment, what is the point in all this? Does it make sense that children should fear a physical punishment from their teachers or administrators who are supposed to serve as their role models? Can this disciplinary method cultivate a love of learning or will it necessarily result in a fear of schooling? Is scaring a person straight really the way to prepare them for life where they will have to learn to live within society's expectations and whatever frustrations and challenges life sends their way? What do you think?

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