There is some heated debate right now on about whether or not teachers and educators should still be paddling students as a form of discipline. Some feel this practice is an outrage, while others deem it neccesary. Who is right? Does it work? Should it be banned completely? I'd love to hear some more insight on the topic.

Tags: corporal, paddling, policy, punishment, safety, teachers

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It constitutes assault and battery. It should not be allowed. It's against this law in this state for parents or for educators.

H1 Hall...... hope this finds you well.


U.S.: Corporal Punishment and Paddling
Statistics by State and Race
Corporal Punishment in U.S. Public Schools
2006-2007 School Year: data released March, 2008

In the 2006-2007 school year, 223,190 school children in the U.S. were subjected to physical punishment. This is a significant drop of almost 18%, continuing a steady trend from the early 1980's.

State Number of Students Hit

Alabama 33,716
Arkansas 22,314
Arizona 16
Colorado 8
Florida 7,185
Georgia 18,249
Idaho 111
Indiana 577 .
Kansas 50
Kentucky 2,209
Louisiana 11,080
Missouri 5,159
Mississippi 38,131
North Carolina 2,705
New Mexico 705
Ohio 672
Oklahoma 14,828
South Carolina 1,409
Tennessee 14,868
Texas 49,1997
Wyoming 0 0

The 10 worst states, by percentage of students struck
by educators in the 2006-2007 school year:

Rank State Percentage

1 Mississippi 7.5
2 Arkansas 4.7
3 Alabama 4.5
4 Oklahoma 2.3
5 Louisiana 1.7
6 Tennessee 1.5
7 Texas 1.1
8 Georgia 1.1
9 Missouri .6
10 Florida .3


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.

Moving beyond hitting kids...... how do we manage them in our schools?

“In times of change,
learners inherit the earth,
while the learned find themselves
beautifully equipped to deal with
a world that no longer exists.”
(Eric Hoffer)

Lurking beneath the culture of most schools (and universities) is a deadening message.
It goes something like this: LEARN OR WE WILL HURT YOU. ( R. Barth )

Schools have coupled something human beings do very naturally, learning, with Punishment. The federal government uses the same principle which they embedded in NCLB and the state departments of education use the same principle to try and coerce schools to do what the state wants done. Most people in leadership and management positions continue to work under the assumption that this works…. Let’s take a closer look….

Obedience Model:

Goal: Student will follow orders. Adult speaks.... you comply.

Principle: Do what “I” want. The “I” is of course is always the adult.

Rules: Vague or Rigid/Inflexible
Back in my day the rules were vague. If the adult told you to do it, your job was to do it. Today we have become more sophisticated. Schools post their rules, give out lists in student handbooks…. Your have literally lists and lists of rules.

Intervention: Punishment-
Of course the intervention for breaking one of the many rules is exclusively punishment. In my head punishment ranges from…. NAG,NAG,NAG all the way to the use of corporal punishment…still legal in public schools in 23 states. Punishment may stop a behavior but it never starts a behavior. We seem to think that if we keep hurting people, they will do as they are told!!!

Results: External Locus of Control-
Student Learns: Don’t get caught. Not my responsibility or in extreme cases they conform and do as they are told. Long term you see 3 things: Passive aggressive behavior,Conformists, Rebels or Dropouts.

Everyday in the United States:
- over 2,900 kids drop out of school
- over 17,000 are suspended

The Obedience Model also effects the cognitive domain. You can not manage people in the social domain through the obedience model and expect them to become “critical” thinkers in the cognitive domain.

All one needs to do is put yourself back in school.
Remember the “blue books” during your finals. The teacher hands them out and our job was to spit back everything we could remember that the “expert” had told us over the last few months….. kinda like finals and mid-terms that still hold true in the vast majority of our high-schools.

I believe that this is pathological. It is at the core of the majority of our institutions and homes. It is ironic that in our most "high performing schools" you have many middle and upperclass kids that are really conforming to this distorted notion.... kinda scary.

The question for educators is not whether all humans can learn but what conditions can we
create so they will learn!

What conditions might they be?

be well... mike
Making students write sentences in, by law, corporal punishment.

Have fun with that.
I don't know if I agree with "paddling", but as a survivor of the school system back in the late 60's and 70's I don't think we had near the discipline problems that I see today. Although being a kid, I may not remember. I do know that I was on the other end of a few rulers and many other things, that today would land someone in jail and fired (at least here in Wisconsin). In all the times that a teacher or staff member ever did anything to me, there was only 1 time, that I didn't deserve it (but I figure, I probably had it coming for all the times I didn't get caught). I still remember a lot of those instances today, more than 30 years later! I personally think that they helped make me a better person (and boy did I need it *LOL*)!
I do think that we had less violence in our schools back then, school massacres had not occurred, knives were the main concern. Gang violence was not as prevalent, actually there were no gangs in our town. I don't know what the dropout rate difference between now and then (I think it would be interesting). Now this is not to say that I believe corporal punishment is all or partly responsible. But what I do know, is that I behaved better because of it (or the threat), especially with male teachers who were bigger than me. I don't know that it helped me learn anything, but may have helped others learn more, because the teacher didn't have to deal with me misbehaving. I know that when a big male teacher raised his voice, the room became silent, everyone sat at their desks and at least acted like they were paying attention, and no one dared to tell him F.U. (or even dared to talk back).
One thing that I found kind of interesting with the data provided by Mike, was the race issue and the map that shows where it is allowed. I am wondering what are the percentages in the states where the corporal punishment took place, using students in ALL public schools can really skew the numbers. Most the states that allow corporal punishment are in southern states, which happen to have some of highest percentages of blacks.

What were these figures like back in the 60's and 70's, when most states still allowed corporal punishment?
Everyday in the United States:
- over 2,900 kids drop out of school
- over 17,000 are suspended

Also I do think this would be a good classroom rule (from Mike's data): "If the adult told you to do it, your job was to do it

I also liked: Punishment may stop a behavior but it never starts a behavior

One thing that I have found interesting over the years, when discussing this issue with others. Almost all of the people that were in favor of corporal punishment, had it used with them. And almost all the people who didn't believe in corporal punishment, admit that they had never been a victim of it. I wonder if a survey was conducted, what would be the results?
Just for the record, I do not believe in striking, paddling or hurting students. But that does not mean that I agree with the way things are today either. Personally I think we went from one extreme to the other. Deterrence I think is what is needed, not nescesarily punishment.

I went to school in the 50's and 60's, and spanking was done. If you "got it" at school, you were sure to "get it" again when you got home. My younger sisters tell me that it was prevelent, that when us big sisters babysat the little sisters, we would argue over who would "get to spank" if it was necessary. Us big sisters spanked out own kids, but the little sisters did not. That was the dividing line in thoughts on spanking. Like you, I don't know how effective spanking was. I was obedient to a large extend, but rather headstrong in spite of the spankings. My father set a rule that we were not to be spanked after some age, may have been about 12 or 13, or when he became aware that we were approaching puberty. BTW, I have five younger sisters and no brothers.
The difficulty that I struggle with is that much modern 'discipline' is a long slow conversational 'war of attrition' focussed on restorative process and all manner of good and wholesome things. The problem is the long and slow documentary dimension of it. There needs to be a quick and effective circuit breaker that can restore class order quickly, so the majority population can actually proceed with some learning processes. Corporal punishment used to provide that - not as a behaviour changer (I doubt that was ever effective - the best you'd get was a behaviour inhibitor), but as means of restoring order, quickly.

So, for me - no, I'm not hankering for the past (my hand still hurts from a frosty winter morning strap (not really, I'm using hyperbole!); mind you we never tormented a beginning teacher again!) - I'm a "come with me, and let's collect paper, tidy rooms, clean boards etc" type. Detention? not if I can avoid it!! (that surrenders my management to someone else). Counselling - a consideration, but most need to demonstrate something more substantial than the rebelliousness I see...

Paddling was never an Australian tradition - ruler, strap, cane were the go... They mainly faded out in the '60s.

When we moved interstate and were investigating schooling for our family, we approached one school and all their material covered was the discipline policy.We didn't engage them, since we were first and foremost interested in education (still are) - what do you teach, why, and how. A paragraph on discipline might have been relevant but not pages of it!
Anne's post kind of got me thinking. One thing that I didn't see in Mike's statistics was the breakdown by gender. When I think back to my school days, I don't know if I remember any girls ever getting disciplined like the boys. Some may have, but I do remember a lot of the boys getting theirs. I know a few years ago, at a class reunion, a bunch of us guys, talked about this. I think we came to the conclusion that the girls, the threat was enough deturrent, where with us boys, we weren't so bright and needed reminders *LOL*.
I wonder, if these questions were asked about corporal punishment, "Does it work? Should it be banned completely?" , what would the gender breakdown be?
Come to think of it, Paul, I can't say I remember seeing any girls spanked at school. At home, yes, but not at school.

In the days before ADHD was defined, boys were more active in school whereas girls were fairly content sitting still. As a teacher who had more boys than girls, I had no problem with movement in the classroom as long as it didn't involve touching/distracting someone else. That seemed to make a decent compromise.

In my first year of teaching, I was in the AP's office with the AP and a parent who had been called in because his boy was arriving on Mondays consistently hung-over, or still a bit on the tipsy side. The father said that it just was not possible for him to prevent his 16 year old from drinking on weekends. Conversation mored n. I mentioned his son walked around the room a lot and I didn't consider it a problem since he was a six-footer and the desks had been coralled from an elementary storage room. The father flew back at me, and demanded to know what kind of a teacher I was that I couldn't keep his son in his seat during class. After the meeting, the AP remarked on the fact that the father couldn't keep the boy from drinking, but expected me to keep him in his seat. Good man, that AP! He and I shared many an after parent meeting chuckle over the years!

Hi All...... hope this finds you well.

We may want to move this discussion toward the use of any form of coercion to get kids to do things!

What do you want to accomplish?.....“Begin With The End In Mind.” ( S. Covey)

Obedience Model:

Goal: Student will follow orders.
Principle: Do what “I” want.
Rules: Vague or Rigid/Inflexible
Intervention: Punishment
Results: External Locus of Control
Student Learns: Don’t get caught.
Not my responsibility.

Responsibility Model

Goal: Teach students to make responsible decisions.
Principle: To learn from the outcome of your choices.
Rules: Structured/Flexibility
Intervention: Teach cause/effect relationships.
Results: Toward an internal locus of control.
Student Learns: I cause my own outcomes.

Why do most schools continue to rely on coercion to teach?

Maybe doing something at the primary grade level, with helping younger parents with parenting? I think just like anything else, we have to teach kids at a younger age, to respect, obey ...... I think by the time they get to middle school, the problem becomes real tough. Try to eliminate the problems from ever occurring. I think a lot of it comes down to what we all know as manners and respect, these used to be taught at home, but I don't think a lot parents today are teaching them. Or at least they don't seem to be.
One thing I have noticed, is that kids with older parents, seem to have less discipline problems. I wonder if this is the case?
Hi Paul,

A couple of comments

I will be risky enough to make the comment that 'what we all know as manners and respect' isn't, in fact what we all know. There are cultural expectations, and traditional school cultures don't always mesh well (or at all) with the local communities. (See the Ruby Payne (A Fremweork for Understanding Poverty) 'class' rules for some indications of the divide that there often is - sometimes it's more a divide between parents and school than students and school.

Comment 2:
There is a terrifically simple, useful productive parenting program (yes, I know - it's a program) called 1-2-3 magic. Well worth pondering. It has some similarities to the 'supernanny' series of a few years ago.
Because there are 35 kids in the classroom and 34 of them deserve to be supported when 1 of them is disruptive. That has already been discussed.

You might also notice it is how humanity has operated since forever.

I'd argue the reason so-called coercion is failing now is that it isn't happening in the home so kids rebel against it at school.



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