Justice

States Where Teachers Still Spank Students

The image of a teacher whacking a student with a wooden paddle might seem like a relic from an era long past, but the practice of corporal punishment in school is still legal in 19 states. Of those 19 states, however, only seven account for almost 80 percent of in-school corporal punishment cases.

States that still allow corporal punishment are all in the South, and Black students are twice as likely to end up on the receiving end of that paddle, a new report from the Brookings Institution found.

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Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma are the last remaining states that allow teachers to routinely paddle or spank students as punishment for misbehavior. Black students in six of those states — Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee (plus Louisiana) — account for 90 percent of the in-school corporal punishment cases.

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One reason that Black students are punished more often is that many live in the Deep South, a region of the U.S. that employs corporal punishment most frequently. But in North Carolina and Georgia, Black students are twice as likely to be beat as white students; they are 70 percent more likely to be beat at school in Mississippi; and in Louisiana and Arkansas, they are 40 percent more likely to be beat.

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Studies reveal a negative connection between physical punishment and poor academic performance.

In the past 30 years, there has been a significant decline in the use of corporal punishment in U.S. schools. Studies linking the experience of being paddled or spanked in school to poor academic performance and higher drop-out rates prompted 31 states to pass laws prohibiting educators from doling out physical punishment to students. The most recent states to prevent teachers from striking students are Ohio in 2009 and New Mexico in 2011. Psychologists agree that corporal punishment does more than hurt a child physically — it leaves psychological scars that can affect that child for the rest of their life.

"Students who are witnesses or victims of such abuse can develop low self-esteem, magnified guilt feelings, and various anxiety symptoms; such results can have baneful results in the psychosocial and educational development of these student," a 2010 study from Michigan State University found. "This student very likely will learn techniques that actually lead to reduced self-control, with negative behavior characterized by more acting out, school absence, malingering, recidivism, and overt academic revocation."

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The American Academy of Pediatrics and United Nations have both voiced opposition to the practice, stating unequivocally that corporal punishment does more harm than good.

Corporal Punishment in America

Corporal punishment is surprisingly common in the U.S.

Posted by ATTN: on Thursday, December 10, 2015


Yet data from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights shows that tens of thousands of students were beaten by educators during the 2011-2012 school year. There were 42,000 reported cases of Black boys being beaten and 15,000 incidents for Black girls alone. While the practice is becoming less common, corporal punishment is far from extinct in the U.S.