Since states including Georgia won’t ban paddling, the feds might do it

Corporal punishment in schools is on the front burner in many places this month, including Congress where U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) plans to introduce legislation to ban the use of physical discipline in public schools.

At a recent hearing on the issue by her Healthy Families and Communities Subcommittee, McCarthy said:

The federal government has outlawed physical punishment in prisons, jails and medical facilities.   Yet our children sitting in a classroom are targets for hitting. We know safe, effective, evidence-based strategies are available to support children who display  challenging behaviors in school settings.

Hitting children in school does not help them achieve academic success. Hitting children in school is not an effective discipline tactic. Hitting children in school does not make them feel safe in school. Instead, they feel humiliated, helpless, depressed, and angry. Hitting children teaches them that it is a legitimate way to handle conflict.

We are adults. We shouldn’t be hitting kids in schools. Instead, we, as a nation, should move toward these positive strategies when it comes to our  school children. It has been a 150 years since the first state banned this practice in schools. Since then, 29 states have done the same. But it is still occurring every day in our nation and we still have hundreds of thousands of  students being hit in our schools.

Only 20 states, including Georgia and most other Southern states, permit corporal punishment.  (I won’t go into my arguments against it as I have done so in many other blog entries. This is my most recent tirade against the practice. But it’s a no-brainer to me. Ban it now.)

Here is a good Washington Post article, however, about a Texas system that is bucking the trend away from paddling students. The system is Temple, Texas:

Most school districts across the country banned paddling of students long ago. Texas sat that trend out. Nearly a quarter of the estimated 225,000 students who received corporal punishment nationwide in 2006, the latest figures available, were from the Lone Star State.

But even by Texas standards, Temple is unusual. The city, a compact railroad hub of 60,000 people, banned the practice and then revived it at the demand of parents who longed for the orderly schools of yesteryear. Without paddling, “there were no consequences for kids,” said Steve Wright, who runs a construction business and is Temple’s school board president.

Since paddling was brought back to the city’s 14 schools by a unanimous board vote in May, behavior at Temple’s single high school has changed dramatically, Wright said, even though only one student in the school system has been paddled.

“The discipline problem is much better than it’s been in years,” Wright said, something he attributed to the new punishment and to other discipline programs schools are trying. Residents of the city’s comfortable homes, most of which sport neighborly, worn chairs out front, praise the change.

“There are times when maybe a good crack might not be a bad idea,” said Robert Pippin, a custom home builder who sports a goatee and cowboy boots. His son graduated from Temple schools several years ago.

A joint American Civil Liberties Union-Human Rights Watch report last year found that students with disabilities were disproportionately subjected to corporal punishment, sometimes in direct response to behavioral problems that were a result of their disabilities. Many educators and psychologists say that positive tools, such as giving praise for good behavior and withholding it for bad, are far more effective for discouraging misbehavior.

Those techniques “encourage them to behave well in the future,” said report author Alice Farmer. Paddling “makes students lose respect for their teachers.”

Rules about paddling vary from district to district, but typically only administrators, not teachers, can mete out the punishment, which is done in private. Usually, a long, flat wooden paddle is used to give as many as three blows across the student’s clothed rear end, although Farmer found students who had been hit many more times. Boys are overwhelmingly the target.

52 comments Add your comment

Been there done that

April 19th, 2010
6:08 pm

Teachers have nothing to use with their misbehaving students…kids in school now have NO fear.

something has to change

April 19th, 2010
6:56 pm

i have no issues with paddling and yes i am a parent. schools should give the parents the option to do it first, otherwise let the school handle it. growing up, just knowing there was a paddle in the principal’s office was enough for most kids. as my dh and i discussed, you’d rather the principal do it than getting home to mom and dad! for kids today, getting sent to the “administrator” now is of no consequence. the adult’s hands are tied and the misbehaving child knows it. what a joke.

Proud Black Man

April 19th, 2010
6:57 pm

Is it any wonder that Texas leads the southern states in paddling? I hope and pray that some teacher or administrator, white or black, would try to put their hands on my children.

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Hank Rearden

April 19th, 2010
7:11 pm

‘Teachers have nothing to use with their misbehaving students…kids in school now have NO fear’

That’s total crap. They don’t paddle in East Cobb and the schools are fantastic.

Old days

April 19th, 2010
7:25 pm

If you need to hit a kid to keep them in line, you are TOTALLY skill-less as a teacher and should quickly exit the profession.


April 19th, 2010
7:29 pm

I am a proponent of paddling and believe it has a place in the array of discipline methods. That said, the biggest argument against corporal punishment in public schools is that they (school administration) will screw it up. In other words, do you want the same principal who cannot tell the difference between a deadly weapon and a Tweety Bird keychain striking your child with a board?

Personally, I don’t like the fact the federal government is trying to pass this law. I think it is a local decision and they nor the state should stick their nose in it. Don’t be surprised after the federal government bans paddling in schools, they come after mom and dad next.

Julie Worley

April 19th, 2010
7:35 pm

Our 3 children attend schools in an UNRESPONSIVE Paddling School, Houston County, TN. We are unable to Protect them from witnessing/overhearing teachers threaten/Hit students with Wooden Paddles to deliberately inflicty physical pain and suffering intended to Punish them just outside class for minor infractions such as not turning in homework. TN State Law does Not require Parental Consent or Notification for Children to be physically punished in school.

Our son was threatened with Paddling by an Asst. Principal at his middle school because he went outside for supervised free-time with his class when he was allegedly told to stay in. He said he was not told to stay in and that she could not paddle him and had to call his parents. We have taught each of our children from an early age that “No One Has the Right to Touch Them, They can Say “No!”, Get Away and Tell Someone, to Protect them from Sexual Abuse! We informed her that we do not hit our children and did not want them to paddle him. She said he still must be Punished and a non-violent form of discipline was agreed upon. Federal and State Government officials informed us that our children’s health and safety is a “Local Issue” left up to autonomous school district boards.

We made a written/verbal presentation to our local school district board members in April 2008 during “National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month” to Demand they Prohibit Physical/Corporal Punishment of Children in our Schools, and they never responded, no letter, no phone call, THEY IGNORED US!

Paddling children puts school districts at risk for Lawsuits due to Injuries. Our nation’s most trusted Children’s Health and Education Organizations have issued Official Position Statements Opposing Corporal Punishment of Children in Schools, already Illegal in Schools in 30 States! The cost to Abolish Corporal Punishment of All Children in All Schools is $0!

You can’t hit your employee, your spouse or your neighbor. Why do we legally sanction hitting school children? Hitting children with boards for school misbehavior is no longer considered acceptable by the majority of people in this country.

Educators must be trained to give students the tools to improve behavior/decision making skills while empowering them with awareness to their human right to integrity of their bodies (hands-off!) in our schools and society to combat instances of physical and sexual abuse.

Paddling students in schools is in direct conflict with the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare that states in its guidelines for juvenile lockups: “Corporal punishment should not be tolerated in any form.”

Southron Man

April 19th, 2010
8:18 pm

@ Hank Rearden

And what are the demographics of East Cobb?

drew (former teacher)

April 19th, 2010
8:26 pm

Once again, the Feds want to stick their nose into matters that should be decided locally. As long as the parents sign off on it, and administrators dole it out, I see no problem with paddling at all. My experience is that it only takes a few paddled kids to make all the others sit up and take notice…especially if the few paddlings are done early in the year, and broadcast to the whole school through the intercom system.

Kids respond differently to different punishments…there are kids who will take all the detention, counseling, ISS and OSS you give them, and their behavior doesn’t change one bit. But those same students just might consider changing their behavior if they think someone’s gonna put the wood to that azzz. If the objective is to get them to behave, you provide whatever form of discipline is necessary to attain the desired change. And SOMETIMES, that might be paddling. It’s called tough love, something many of today’s more “enlightened” parents just don’t understand.

Oh, and Ms. Worley, your comment that your son got into trouble because he was “allegedly” told to stay inside tells me all I need to know about you. I guess that would be “allegedly”, as in, you prefer to believe your son’s version of events over that of the teacher? Yeah, you gotta watch those scheming teachers…always making up lies about your children.


April 19th, 2010
8:37 pm

They don’t paddle in Forsyth County and the schools are great. They handle misbehavior appropriately and without hitting. If they can do it, so can all the other districts. It’s a disgrace that Georgia is one of those 20 states that can’t shake this archaic practice.

Southron Man

April 19th, 2010
8:45 pm

@ northmom

And what are the demographics of Forsyth County?


April 19th, 2010
8:48 pm

What does demographics have to do with this issue? I fail to see the correlation


April 19th, 2010
8:49 pm

As an FYI, I have read the investigative report called Impairing Education – according to that report more special needs students are targeted as well.


April 19th, 2010
8:55 pm

If the fed gives money to districts for education – then I believe they have a say so on this issue. Any educator that believes hitting is appropriate – even IF the parent gives permission – is wrong. There are many professional teacher organizations that are against this as well. It’s the teachers and administrators that hold certificates and degrees in higher education – and not one institute of higher learning teaches this ‘paddling’ business.

Concerned Parent and Educator

April 19th, 2010
9:33 pm

@ Drew, I so totally agree. I spanked my sons maybe two or three times when they were younger. The form of discipline that I found was effective with them was time out and restricting them from activities they enjoyed. It worked. Tbey are now productive young men who have never experienced behavioral problems and succeeded well in school. However, as an educator, I observe some children need alternative forms of discipline. When I was growing up, students were paddled. I never observed any major problems with this practice and our classrooms were orderly. The kind of disrespect and disregard to school policies in many classrooms across our nation is shameful. My belief is that the types of discipline that schools could implement correlated with the climate of the school. With some students, simply stating the expectations and rules are effective. Other students may need a continual reward system. Phone calls and conferences to parents are needed with some students. Others may need a little whack. Notice the word “little” ? Not abusive….just a message to let students know what their limitations are. If you think about it, most countries use corporal punishment and they do not have the types of behavioral problems with students that we experience in our country. I have travelled the world and have never seen a country that thinks it “harms” students to implement corporal punishment. The students from other nations respect their teachers and school system. They also take more pride in academic success. Corporal punishment is effective in these countries and has been effective in our country for generations. My belief is that it should be an option subject to parental input and have specific paramaters in order to prevent abuse.

the truth

April 19th, 2010
10:01 pm

It’s usually the parents of the trouble-makers that scream the loudest when the issue of discipline is raised. More schools should institute paddling. Generally speaking, if a student gets the paddle, it’s well deserved and most likely a long time coming. Maybe they should start paddling the parents of these problem children as well. The kids, especially the trouble-makers (along with their worthless, degenerate parents), have too much power in schools. This is a problem that needs to be set straight- kids don’t deserve to have a voice in school. For that matter, parents’ opinions should also be curtailed for the betterment of the educational system and the children that actually put forth an effort during the school day. Paddle away!


April 19th, 2010
10:11 pm

many posters seem not to understand the problem with the law. Educators know they are immune from liability – those that hold on to the notion that hitting is effective have no data to support the assertions. It is the immunity that is the problem in the current law. They hit because they can. They claim it is effective, because they can. There is no good reason to hit whatsoever, when there are so many other discipline tools available. All they have is excuses. What people don’t realize is the cost to regular taxpayers due to lawsuits, especially if a special ed student is involved. Costly and ineffective. Certainly there are better ways.

Old days

April 19th, 2010
10:13 pm

Yeah, because we need to give the power to hit kids to some of the racist teachers and administrators in this state. Or the emotionally unstable ones. Or the ones with anger issues.

Not worth the risk. At all, even if there are benefits. Sorry, but it’s true, and I’m a white teacher.


April 19th, 2010
10:42 pm

i get amazed that educators , who hold teaching certifictes and degrees in higher education, actually advocate to hit children, even though harm can come to a child. Why don’t you all sign an oath that says ‘do no harm’. Many of the districts require a form signed every year to opt out. I think that is totally bass ackwards. Why don’t the districts that paddle require an OPT IN form with an affidavit from an MD with the MD blessing. — you know why, because no MD would sign such a thing.

the truth

April 19th, 2010
11:13 pm

Because MD’s are all-knowing…brilliant.


April 19th, 2010
11:41 pm

No MD would put their license on the line. And I suggest the state of Georgia do away with teacher immunity, because in essence this is one of the reasons why it is allowed. Have a any of you posters read anything else Mo has written about this issue. What about the kids who are injured. Alice Farmers report is quite clear with documentation of injuries. No child should fear school. No child should fear an educator to the point that they drop out. And if a disstrict can’t use common sense, then they should be investigated and any district that engages in corporal punishment should be called into question and scrutiny. They should know better – they are the institute of higher learning, run by educators, all graduates of institutes of higher learning.. It is not just a local issue. It’s a child welfare issue. Any educator using the excuse that it may help some kids, please find another line of work

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Teaching Used To Be A Noble Profession

April 20th, 2010
7:37 am

I have been in education for almost twenty years. Occasionally, I have dealt with a couple of extreme behaviors through the years. I have never paddled, nor do I desire to paddle or witness a paddling. What we need to do is expel those who are extreme behavior problems and let the parents pay for their education at private schools or homeschool.

David Weaver

April 20th, 2010
7:54 am

Paddling a child in school isn’t the same as “Hitting” them. Paddling isn’t done in front of other children. Just knowing that you can be paddled has keep many children from acting out in school. When you come up with a better way of keeping children in line at school then maybe paddling won’t be nessary! Way back when paddling was actually used children didn’t act the way a lot of them do today. They didn’t disrespect their teachers in class.

Teaching is worse in FL

April 20th, 2010
9:10 am

I think what many people fail to realize is that federal funding is such a small piece of the pie. If anyone knows the exact numbers gor GA, please chime in. It is usally around 4-5% of the total education $$ spent.

My point is-we jump through so many hoops for such a small part of the pie.

BTW, wonder how people will fell about paddling if merit pay is instituted?

V for Vendetta

April 20th, 2010
9:41 am

I am against paddling in schools.

I am also against the Federal government banning things that should be decided by individuals. As someone said earlier, what’s next? Are they going to ban it in the home as well?

This is the road down which we are traveling–at breakneck speed.


April 20th, 2010
9:57 am

Paddles are sold at sex shops. They connote a sexual gratification and are absolutely an S&M device used for sexulal pleasure. With that being said, imagine a male teacher paddling a female student for wearing inappropriate clothes to school? It’s disgusting on so many levels and needs to be stopped in all of the US.

Metro Coach

April 20th, 2010
9:57 am

@Teaching is worse…The last numbers I saw on the federal portion of the ed budget was 7%. As far as whether to paddle or not, it should be a system by system decision, definitely not a federal one. My parents spanked me as a child, and I turned out to be a productive member of society, IMO anyway, my wife might disagree, lol. My parents also taught me to respect authority and other adults, to say yes and no ma’am or sir, and to be respectful and polite in general. Parenting is the problem in most cases, if parents raisedd their children to be polite and respectful, paddling wouldn’t be needed.

Lisa B.

April 20th, 2010
10:19 am

I am interesting in hearing about alternative consequences. The teachers in my school use positive behavior techniques which work well for most students. However, that does always work. By the time students in my school are paddled there have been many consequences for misbehavior such as verbal reprimands, notes and phone calls to parents, counseling from administrators and/or counselors, parent conferences, up to 10 days in ISS,and suspensions. Frequently, parents request their children receive paddling rather than suspension. This keeps the children in school and prevents them from academic harm. Without the paddling option, I believe we would have far more students miss more days of school due to suspensions.

Lisa B.

April 20th, 2010
11:53 am

I meant to say “I am interested…”


April 20th, 2010
11:54 am

Many kids seem to *like* suspensions, and either don’t care about or simply skip detentions. Many parent’s “phone numbers” are invalid or not answered. Do the schools have any effective punishment at all left? If they did or there were some they could start using, that might be a decent avenue to explore…
Right now, no they aren’t losing respect for their teachers – they don’t have any to lose.


April 20th, 2010
11:56 am

I am a teacher and am completely, 100%, against hitting children for any reason. I do not observe good and consistent approaches to discipline now among my colleagues–how awful it would be if they could “paddle” kids at will! Kids are belittled, made to cry, shamed, forced to face the wall–all are useless practices yet teachers continue to use them. A better choice would be to help teachers learn how to keep order in their classrooms. Yes, the kids’ behavior is beyond what you can imagine if you’re not a teacher. But if you paddle now, don’t be surprised when that same kid, 10 years down the line, robs you. Teachers must model the behavior they want to see in students.

Metro Coach

April 20th, 2010
12:04 pm

@FultonTeacher…You must not really be a teacher, because if you were you would know that males do not paddle females, and I don’t believe dress code violations are handled with paddling anyway. For you to even suggest it shows complete ignorance of the situation.


April 20th, 2010
12:41 pm

Laugh@FultonTeacher, Metro is right


April 20th, 2010
2:38 pm

I agree with metro most of you people do not have a clue about schools.Students are not getting hit the teachers are haveing their way and the Jails are full.They will continue to grow.The test scores are low and will keep falling.Parents are on stage not teachers and with this economy it will come front and center.


April 20th, 2010
3:15 pm

@metro coach – it does not matter if a male or female paddles a male or female student. Paddling satisfies the paddler only and doesn’t teach anything. Why would you paddle a student who is for example ‘fighting’. For those of you excusing the parents for giving permission, aren’t teachers the ones with certificates and higher education degrees. I would HOPE teachers could figure out a better way than sending them to the principals office for a paddling. @ coach – there have been incidences in the news where children are paddled in front of others, and in such a way that causes injury. If a child has a behavior issue, aren’t the schools suppposed to do assessments under child find? Aren’t the schools supposed to identify exactly what the issue is and develop a plan to address the behavior issue. Aren’t the teachers and principals all knowledgeable on functional behavior assessments. I would love to hear back from teachers with answers to my questions. No school trains educators on ‘how to paddle’, how to avoid an injury. It is not a legitimate, trainable certificated practice.


April 20th, 2010
3:19 pm

plus if any of us parents took a wooden board and hit our children, we would be called into child services. You all know there is immunity in the law. You hit because you can IMHO.


April 20th, 2010
3:37 pm

@paulaD – what possesses teachers to do that? you can’t shame a kid into learning. That’s very sad if what you state is true. Don’t districts teach inservices on classroom management?

The Apple Doesn't Fall

April 20th, 2010
4:19 pm

The issue isn’t paddling. It’s a federal governement that’s trying to pass legislation that they have no constitutional authority to do so. Can they withold funds if a system doesn’t comply to their wants and wishes, sure, but our founding fathers limited the federal government’s rights for a reason. They have no authority in this issue to enact legislation against it.


April 20th, 2010
5:08 pm

it’s a separation of church and state issue, so yes the fed has the right

the truth

April 20th, 2010
5:34 pm

You may not be able to “shame” a kid into learning, but you can definitely paddle the will to disrupt the class right out of ‘em! Walk into any public school and it’s obvious that discipline is non-existent.


April 20th, 2010
6:23 pm

@ the truth – what about the constitutional rights to special needs children? They have rights too. I have a hard time believing that behavior is that bad and can’t be handled. Are teachers not schooled in classroom management techniques? Is the leadership walking around and being visible in the halls and classrooms? People like you need to stop scapegoating children for this ridiculous practice


April 20th, 2010
9:47 pm

It is interesting to hear all the solutions, but I wonder how many with the answers have been in a classroom recently. As an administrator that paddles (the only one in my school that can) techniques are not effective if the parents are not supportive and if the consequences do not mean anything to the student. They do not mind going home because then they can play video games,watch TV go shopping. Last week I requested permission to give 1 lick to a student and the parent refused. Parent picked the child up when the child returned the next day wearing brand new shoes and clothes that they brought them in an attempt to bribe them to behave (he was back in my office the next day). They care whether or not they get a lick (2 max at my school) A majority of our parents want me to paddle. The alternative to paddling is parents to come and pick them up which looses valuable instruction time. If I give them a lick they quite crying I hug them tell them I love them and send them back to class and they miss maybe 20 min. By the way I may use my paddle 5 times a year, but it stays on top of my desk year round for all to see.


April 20th, 2010
10:07 pm

States with lowest percentage of public school teachers threatened with violence by student (FY 2004).

* Denotes states allowing corporal punishment

41 HI
42 ID*
43 MN
44 IA
45 ME
46 Wy
47 NJ
48 MT
49 CA
50 SD
51 ND

Bottom ten states by composite ACT scores of high school graduates tested (2006).

* Denotes states allowing corporal punishment
41 OK*
42 CO*
43 FL*
44 TX*
45 AL*
46 GA*
47 LA*
48 NM*
49 SC*
50 MS*
51 DC

Bottom ten states by amount of local, state and federal expenditure per student (FY 2005).

* Denotes states allowing corporal punishment
41 SD
42 LA*
43 NC*
44 AL*
45 KY*
46 AZ*
47 OK*
48 MS*
49 TN*
50 ID*
51 UT



April 20th, 2010
10:40 pm

The Supreme Court has already ruled that this is a state’s right issue.


April 21st, 2010
12:46 am

but the state of georgia won’t address this issue…they should have a long time ago. I would never trust a school district with these ‘opt out’ forms and such. Even if the parents support corporal punishment it is the school that employs learned people with certificates and degrees from higher institutions. This is not a legitimate, certificated practice. Bravo to the parent who refused to give permission for a lick! parents are finally wising up. They are realizing that nobody but them should be doing this (but i don’t condone that either). To admin – how do you know this was a bribe? That’s a bold assertion and assumption. Why don’t you have a meeting with the parent and trouble shoot.


April 21st, 2010
8:32 pm

Georgia has behavior management issues more so then some states mostly because parents and students are in schools where they could care less about being educated. If paddling occurs it got be for only very extreme behavior not stupid stuff. That’s the real problem. People want use it for small issues, because it’s quick and easy.

Not my child

April 22nd, 2010
12:20 am

If a person used an object or even his hand to hit another on the street, that would be considered a felony assault. How is it different in schools? It defies logic in a modern country. If someone hit my child, I would have the right to defend them by striking them back or by calling the police. And I would do it–both.

Looks Like Louisiana is trying to abolish it

April 22nd, 2010
1:45 am

A press release from Rep Barb Norton of Louisiana is going around that she is re-introducing a bill (HB 1343) to abolish corporal punishment in louisiana public schools. Now why couldn’t Georgia do something like that – introduce a state bill, because all you have now is naysayers whining about state’s rights.