Public schools

A Shocking Number of States Still Allow Public School Teachers to Spank Students

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"The Ass at School," Pieter Bruegel c. 1570
Jonund/Wikimedia

Last week, Kansas state Rep. Gail Finney (D-Wichita) made headlines with a bill explicitly allowing parents and caregivers, teachers, and school personnel whom parents have given the greenlight to spank or strike children to the point of "redness or bruising." The matter was met with swift derision from both local and national media. John Stewart even got in on the game. 

Finney says folks are taking her bill—designed to protect parents wrongly accused of abuse, particularly in custodial cases—out of context. "The part that just really amazes me is the number of people who have never really taken the time to even actually read the bill," she told local TV news station KSN

The part that amazes me is how few critics acknowleged that Kansas already allows both parents and public school teachers to strike students. In fact, it's one of 19 states that still permit corporal punishment (including spanking and paddling) in public schools. 

PolicyMic has a nice map of where school spankings are and aren't illegal. The majority of states that still allow it are concentrated in the Southeast. And within these states, the meting out of physical discipline is far from egalitarian. Rural students and boys are more likely to get spanked than non-rural and female students, according to PolicyMic analysis of data from the Civil Rights Data Collection. Disabled and minority students are also disproportionately likely to be struck by teachers.

In North Carolina, for instance, Native Americans make up only 2 percent of the public school population. Yet they received 35 percent of school corporal punishment in 2009, according to PolicyMic. In a little of my own data digging, I noticed that around the same number of black and white male students received corporal punishment in South Carolina in 2009—despite there being about 66,000 more white male students enrolled. In Louisiana, 2.4 percent of black male students received corporal punishment, compared to 1.4 percent of white male students. 

PolicyMic's Alex Collazo suggests it's these types of disparities that keep corporal punishment alive and well in American schools (despite the fact that 80 percent of U.S. parents and 72 percent of all Americans are against it):

"More privileged students with more privileged parents … are rarely effected and thus unlikely to give the issue much thought. Those most passionate about changing these policies may lack the political power to influence the legislative or media agenda … The next time corporal punishment in schools enters the news cycle, think of the issue not as a controversydebate or discussion, but a continuing and pernicious failure of American-style democracy." 

For a deeper look at corporal punishment in U.S. schools, check out the short 2013 documentary The Board of Education

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  1. John Stewart even got in on the game.

    And here I thought Green Lanterns were supposed to be above such petty local disputes.

    1. Green Lanterns have no problem with corporal punishment.

  2. OK, I was in 7th grade (the first time) and my History teacher was a good friend of my dad’s and a bit of a nutball with borderline PTSD from his Vietnam days. Anyway, we would fuck with him pretty bad by slamming desks shut or heaving wet TP bombs at him when he had his back turned. So one day, I just will not shut up and he tells me if I open my mouth one more time, he’s gonna paddle me in front of the class until I cry. Well, of course I responded with a snickering “OK, Mr Powers”, which got an immediate invitation to the front of the class where he ceremoniously took his ornate paddle down from the wall and invited me to bend over his desk. About 10 cracks later and the tears came, inviting some pretty hearty laughter from my so-called friends.

    I behaved pretty well in his class after that. But he was still fucking crazy.

    1. About 10 cracks later and the tears came, inviting some pretty hearty laughter from my so-called friends.

      I can’t imagine a 7th grade friend not laughing at that.

    2. My elementary school teacher kept a two foot long oak paddle with holes drilled in it in his office. I think most of us learned real quickly to do what he said and not screw with him.

      1. I can tell you this: the corporal punishment worked a lot better than in-school suspension. Shame is a hell of a deterrent.

  3. It looks like Elizabeth has been posting stories for a week now.

    Is it too soon to say, where is alt-text?

    1. It is NEVER too soon to inquire after alt-text!

      1. I’m sure she’s on Tweeter or whatever it’s called.

    2. I didn’t realize alt text was so important! I will learn …

      1. You should also post Libertarian things.

        1. You are right, libertarianism has nothing to say about institutional child abuse…

          1. Beg the question much?

            1. How about, “libertarian has nothing to say about instigation of violence”?

  4. Looks like spanking correlates well with alcohol taxes.

  5. I dunno. This one is pretty far down on my list of things to make government stop doing.

    1. Government employees committing assault against other people’s children doesn’t bother you?

      1. I think many people here simply don’t consider it assault. I don’t think detention constitutes imprisonment either.

  6. “The part that amazes me is how few critics acknowleged that Kansas already allows both parents and public school teachers to strike students”

    Momma said knock you out… Teacher gonna knock you out.

    “In fact, it’s one of 19 states that still permit corporal punishment (including spanking and paddling) in public schools”

    Oh the horror!!!!!!

    1. You wouldn’t be pissed if some dumbass teacher hit your child?

      1. Spanking and hitting are two different things. If the teacher punched or kicked my child we would have problems. Many generations of children including me were spanked in school and it was totally acceptable. Kids need to respect the adults when they are in school. Giving the kids a day or two suspension doesn’t do a damn thing.

        1. Many generations of children including me were spanked in school and it was totally acceptable.

          I don’t think this proves anything.

          Kids need to respect the adults when they are in school. Giving the kids a day or two suspension doesn’t do a damn thing.

          I’d rather have my kids grow up with a healthy skepticism on the topic of authority.

          1. And that’s fine. Your local school system should work out it own policies concerning teacher and student discipline. If you don’t want or trust the school system to discipline that should be your call.

          2. [I’d rather have my kids grow up with a healthy skepticism on the topic of authority.]

            Yeah, but it’s probably your wise-ass spawn that needs the ass kicking. True vouchers would solve this. You’d get a call and be informed that your snotty brat and your pro rated refund was waiting in the fucking street.

        2. Spanking and hitting are two different things.

          Uh, no. Spanking involves hitting. You can’t really separate the two.

          1. Then there is no need to use the word hitting.

      2. I don’t know. Did he have my permission and did the child deserve it?

        1. I will he sure to sake those same questions if anyone I know gets raped.

          1. That kind already happens, since lack of permission is one of the key facts in establishing that a rape took you place you histrionic dipshit.

    2. Yeah, we do have a consistency problem if we regularly (and rightly) decry the incompetence of teachers and administrators of the public schools and then take a meh attitude about letting them administer corporal punishment which has the potential for lawsuits and additional taxpayer burdens.

  7. If getting spanked as a kid would have really done any permanent harm, I’d be better off dead, or dead.

    When I was a kid, we got beaten a lot, and we deserved it. I remember when the favorite weapon of choice of my mom and her evil sisters was a switch, which they would cut from the nearest shrubbery and then chase us down and leave welts all over us, lol.

    It didn’t slow us down one bit, we’d be right back at our mischief later on the same day.

    I’ll never forget the time that I was staying at my cousins house over the summer. There were 4 of us hellion boys, with me included. I was maybe 9 and the other boys were 9, 8, and 7 or so. They all shared a bedroom upstairs with bunk beds, and the room was almost directly over my aunt and uncles bedroom.

    We’d be up there getting into whatever mischief boys could get into at that age, and at a certain time, my aunt would open the stair door downstairs and yell up, ‘It’s bedtime boys, settle down and get to bed and no noise’. Well, we would, and that would typically not last long until we had to try our luck.

    (cont)

    1. One night we started a throwing stuff at each other in the dark, and someone got hit in the eye with a shoe or something and got mad, started yelling, and next thing, my aunt opens the stair door and yells ‘cut it out right now boys or I’m coming up there with a belt’. So we quiet down for a few, and then whoever got hit in the eye started plotting revenge. Next thing I know, my aunt is up there randomly swinging a belt and my youngest cousin is pleading, ‘no mom, stop, please, we’ll be good’. Lol, good times.

      1. Sounds pretty familiar. We got into the same situation when we were pretending a top bunk was a rowing machine and we collapsed the whole thing. Grandma’s immediate reaction was to come in swinging with a belt, never mind the fact that three young kids were rolling on the floor after collapsing a bunk bed from about 6 feet.

        Holy shit, I can remember it like yesterday. My grandfather had a stoma, so he talked with one of those robot thingeys people put to their neck when they’ve had their voice box removed. He was screaming with this bizarre C3PO thing going and we’re all dazed from the fall and my grandma was wailing away with a belt from the 70’s.

        Fuck, I miss those times.

        1. Yeah, it sounds too familiar.

          and we collapsed the whole thing

          lmao

        2. They are called vibrators, sloop. Or at least used to be. Probably not six feet but seemed like twelve at the time. Grandmas know when someone is srsly hurt and when to just wale on riotous boys.

          1. I’m sorry, Tonio, but maybe a 60 year old man putting a vibrator to his neck was de rigueur in your house but it didn’t happen in ours.

      2. That’s a nice story. Also fucked up and apparently ineffective.

        I’m all for giving parents a lot of leeway when it comes to discipline. But parents are the only ones who should have that leeway whether they want to delegate it or not. Violence is violence. A lot of people here seem to think that initiating violence against a kid is somehow more acceptable than against an adult for some odd reason.

        1. “But parents are the only ones who should have that leeway whether they want to delegate it or not.”

          On what principle?

          “Violence is violence.”

          If violence is violence, then how can you argue for leeway?

          “A lot of people here seem to think that initiating violence against a kid is somehow more acceptable than against an adult for some odd reason.”

          For anyone who has been spanked and also punched, the reason hardly seems odd.

    2. You are a pussy, hyper, until you’ve had to cut and whittle a switch for use on yourself.

      1. Did I say that I haven’t?

        1. But actually, I admit, I haven’t. I have been told to do it. But you know, libertarian genes and all, I chose to take the worse beating for my defiance.

          1. Grandpa: “You call that a switch? Dammit boy, go out and get me a REAL switch!”

  8. I don’t have a problem with this if it requires parent permission.

    What does everyone else think?

    1. Right, a lot of states which allow it require parental permission.

      The North Carolina statistics must be because of Robeson County, home of Lumberton, home of the Lumbee Indians, does it a lot– Yep, I’m right.

      Students in Robeson County were hit the most during the 2012-13 school year, with 141 uses of corporal punishment, the group said. That represents 76 percent of the statewide total of 184.

      It’s a majority-minority county which is mostly Lumbee Indian. It’s a county decision to do it, so it has to do with their attitude towards allowing it (and it does require parental permission), not racism.

      1. Thanks for that, JT. I was going to ask if it was skewed because CP was only done in rural school districts where NA are prevalent.

        1. Robeson County is also the home of UNC Pembroke, one of the few historical Native American Universities. (North Carolina had a fairly progressive attempt at separate but equal, all things considered.) They kept their nickname of Braves, and the NCAA lets them, since their student body is, again, predominantly Lumbee.

          1. Damn, didn’t know that. Thanks.

      2. Also, do try the Lumbee buffet if you are ever passing through western NC on I-85. Just look for the billboards.

    2. I don’t know these days, man. Back when I was a kid, it was different. We got spanked by teachers and it pissed me off. Although I never got mad at my parents over the same thing.

      But these days, there are so many psychos and pervs in the ranks of teacher unions, I’m not so sure I would give any teacher permission to touch my kids.

      1. That’s the thinking that has parents waiting at bus stops and getting ticketed their children play unsupervised in the yard.

        Your local school is not any more filled with pervs and predators *now* than it was when you were a student. Going by crime stats, even less of a chance today.

        1. They’re more likely to get molested at school than in the street, because there’s no local child molester’s union forstreetwalkers.

        2. Do you think that cops are also the same today as they were in 1970? I sure remember it differently.

          1. Well I posted a story in the PM links about the cops charging a 13 year old kid with felony assault for hitting a boy in blue with a snowball. When I was that age, they probably would have stopped their cruiser and thrown one back. Or maybe told my dad on me like they did when they caught us throwing rocks at semis.

            1. Yep. I also don’t remember them routinely shooting grandma and grandpa, 13 year old kids with wii controller, everyone’s pets, etc., back then.

              1. Imagine the fallout for TPing a cop’s house because they ratted a bunch of you out to your parents for doing donuts in the school parking lot. They’d need body bags now. Back then they just came out and laughed it off.

                1. [insert donut joke]

      2. I’m sure there were plenty of psychos and pervs back in the day too.

    3. I don’t think it requires permission every time. Just an acknowledgement that the school staff had the choice to use that as a punishment. It gives a good reason for the parents to get to know the teaching staff, so there’s a trust that the teacher will only use it to discipline.

      1. Given that this is the public school system, in my head I am picturing an “opt out” system as opposed to requiring explicit authorization from the parents.

        1. Will we then require the kids who are spankable to wear a special pin?

          1. Or a scarlet letter.

            BTW, thanks for your help yesterday.

            1. Oh no problem. Where are you headed when you flee CA?

              1. So far, I’ve looked at Park City UT, Austin TX, South Florida, and parts of Oregon. Also thinking about Costa Rica, but not in the near term.

              2. Mostly likely, though, I’ll just be a huge pussy and move somewhere else in CA.

                1. The IE is calling…like a siren. Come to Riverside. Come to MoVal.

                  1. I drove through on Saturday on the way to Palm Desert. Why is the 60 so smooth and nicely maintained? It’s the only stretch of road that my kids will fall asleep on…

                    1. Dude, the 60 is a decent road by California standards, but for a smooth ride you really need to try the toll lanes on the 91. That road right there is the greatest thing the California government has ever come up with. And of course they won’t duplicate it on the 60 or 10 because they’re fucking retarded.

                    2. “That road right there is the greatest thing the California government has ever come up with”

                      Come up with= outsourcing to a private for-profit company

                  2. So, from what I understand, the net population flow in California is INTO the Inland Empire, despite shitty unemployment. Is it cheaper housing and such?

                    1. Yes. I could sell my 2000 square foot house, move to the IE, buy a 5,000 square foot house, and not have to work for 10 years.

                    2. Yeah, that’s all it is. I guess people are finally willing to trade a 60-90 minute commute for $1.10 a SF of living space. There aren’t any jobs out here that I can tell but there’s definitely an exodus from eastern LA County and parts of the OC.

      2. Fuck that. If the parents want their kids beaten, they can beat them themselves. Teachers should never be initiating violence on anyone, period.

    4. As I parent, I own my children until they are 18. The government probably disagrees.

      1. Just remember that they get to pick your nursing home…or not.

        1. I have no plans to live that long. Skin cancer or cirrhosis, take your pick.

          1. Whatever’s less painful, bro. Srsly.

            1. I should probably aim for heart attack. I really regret only having 1 bacon dog for lunch.

              Seriously though, I’m not doing the dementia thing. It’s so sad when I take calls from my Grandpa (93) wanting to know where my Grandma is (died years ago).

              1. The day I realize I have dementia is the day I go out like every person that hates the state ought to go out.

                Think: “I’ll be back.”

                1. I assume a one way ticket to Dulles is in the plan.

                2. But you won’t know it.

                  I’m old enough to worry about it.
                  Every time I can’t remember a phone number I think “Oh Shit!!”

                  1. Everybody forgets phone numbers. When you look at a phone number and can’t remember what to do with it, then worry.

    5. Well, I don’t really have problem with it even without parental permission but having to get that permission helps accommodate those who choose to raise their kids differently.

      I’ve always been of the persuasion that children are basically animals in nice clothes and a little negative-reinforcement can do wonders. Not beating the crap out of them, and used sparingly. They’re like lions in that respect – once they realize what a wupping really entails they lose their fear of it.

      OTOH – I *do* think its pretty much a useless method by the time the kid reaches high school (even earlier really). Either they already behave or the belt ain’t gonna change anything.

      1. This ^^^ We used to get a tap on the ass and it didn’t scar me for life, of course I had 3 brothers younger than me in 3 years, 2 were born 11 months apart and my dad was a railroader and often on the road and my mom had her hands full.

        Also went to Catholic school, I recall my 1st grade teacher (nun) liked to whack knuckles think the Elvis Costello tune about “little Hitlers”, but most of the nuns didn’t use corporal punishment, Sister Callistus was probably 70 so born about 1890.

        And yeah the old man quit whacking our asses when we just looked at him with no reaction about 10 or 11. He was a spare the rod, spoil the child guy who evolved over time.

        None of my brothers used physical punishment on their kids and they are all successful 20 somethings. I think a big difference is the amount of spawn. They all have 2 kids, my folks had 6 in 13 years and one who was born when I was 18.

        I have no problem with a tap to a kid’s butt to get their attention but given the teacher’s union protection of fucking culls I can’t agree with them being judicious enough to be a fair arbiter… so fuck no.

    6. I don’t have a problem with this if it requires parent permission.

      What does everyone else think?

      Same. As long as there’s parent permission I say it’s kosher. That goes for most things when you’re a kid.

  9. In Louisiana, 2.4 percent of black male students received corporal punishment, compared to 1.4 percent of white male students.

    How many of the teachers administering were also black? This would seem relevant, since Hispanic and black parents (myself included) are less likely to see spanking by figures in authority as abuse.

    (That said it tends to be counterproductive by junior high IME.)

    1. Really? I think that’s when its the most productive. 12-14 year olds are the age group most likely to succumb to a public shaming to get their head out of their ass. Anything older and they’ll wear it as a badge of honor and any younger and they’ll pull the rubber legs routine and take the sting out of it.

      No, the most productive whippings I ever received were when I was between 12 and 14.

      1. Dad to three girls, no boys — I got some of my best beatings at that age too, but I don’t feel comfortable spanking my daughters as hard as I was (SEXIST).

        1. My wife won’t allow spanking. IMO, the mind games I have to play on the kids to get them to behave are far worse.

  10. More privileged students with more privileged parents … are rarely effected and thus unlikely to give the issue much thought. Those most passionate about changing these policies may lack the political power to influence the legislative or media agenda

    Whether there is any passion among any significant segment of the population to change this policy (or if indeed it is bad policy) is still in dispute. More likely, the parents either have no problems with these policies, or if they do are not involved enough in their children’s lives to put a stop to it personally.

    I know that in today’s world it is fashionable to characterize issues in terms of victimization and saving people from themselves/some external problem, but that framing does not lend itself to this issue.

  11. Attempting to build outrage…attempt failing.

    I really hope Reason isn’t going to throw in with the anti-corporal punishment/anti-spanking pansies, but I’m guessing their cosmo instincts will push them that way. Fact is, there’s no evidence it’s bad for you.

    I don’t fully trust teachers, so parents should give each teacher permission or prohibition in strapping their kids. Spanking is a little…weird. “You can, but you can’t”.

    1. I’ve never read any research on the matter, so out of curiosity I Googled it. This was the first result, which claims that research says its ineffective and increases aggression in the long-run. I’m not saying I’m automatically taking this at face value, perhaps the study was flawed or perhaps there’s other research out there that came to a different conclusion.

      http://www.psychologytoday.com…..d-all-kids

      1. Psychology today? Those pussies.

      2. Psychology today pioneered the participation trophy. With a few notable exceptions, I wouldn’t listen to anything they have to say.

      3. A little increased aggression sounds like a good thing.

        When did the term aggression become negative?

        1. Agree w FDA. Nothing wrong with a little assertiveness or even well-placed belligerence.

      4. I have dug into the studies on this issue. The anti-spanking studies are uniformly atrocious. The most prominent example, which made its way to Time Magazine, employed a sample that overwhelmingly poor and urban. Another piece that got some traction utilized a sample of 34 kids, and made its claims based on analysis of various recordings of the children.

        The thing is, the only people conducting these studies have already made up their minds.

      5. If Psychology Today found it ineffective, Psychology Today didn’t talk to anyone who had the same coaches I did.

        Also, Psychology Today is absolutely full of shit. I have two daughters who disprove the “bad for ALL kids” conclusion.

    2. If I don’t fully trust the teachers educating my daughter, they won’t be educating my daughter. I kinda hope the progs push hard on this issue, because it will inspire a pretty powerful backlash, not least of which among minority groups.

    3. Being against is logically consistent with the NAP, if the corporal punishment is for anything other than aggression, but I agree, I just can’t get my dander up over this.

    4. Right, because a government employee initiating violence against someone much weaker than they are is not a libertarian issue at all. What the fuck is wrong with people?

  12. 80% of parents are against it because they don’t want social services showing up at their door.

    1. Do you mean 8%? That’s the number of the day.

  13. A) I don’t see why this is an issue Libertarians should get worked up about. I guess if teachers unions finally manage to forbid private schooling, and also move to allow spanking in all schools… That seems profoundly unlikely.

    B) What is with the recent spate of articles condemning legislators for supporting laws that reinforce existing laws? Why should I be concerned. If the state of Tennessee passes a law specifically allowing people to purchase Big Macs, who cares?

  14. Numero uno, what’s with the Sharptonesque reference to racial rates of corporal punishment when the bill applies to parents and those to whom parents have given *written authority* to use corporal punishment? The only racial disparities under this bill, if enacted, would be the result of numerous decisions by each child’s parents.

    Numero two-o, did anyone pick up on the fact that under the bill, a child subject to corporal punishment could be “a person over the age of 18 who is enrolled in high school?”

    Where is sugarfree when we need him?

    1. One can only hope that the punishment will be administered by suitably buxom women.

      1. Let her image sear itself into your mind:

        http://kswptim.files.wordpress…..paddle.jpg

        1. Perhaps not the one to crank the Van Halen for…

  15. Almost all children nowadays need more beating, not less.

    John Stewart being against something is a pretty good indicator that the thing is correct.

    1. That is such a load of shit. There are plenty of things wrong in modern parenting trends, but too little violence is not one of them. All you people who got whooped as kids are just trying to justify the brutal and unacceptable shit you were subjected to. Fuck that. As I’ve said, I’m for giving parents a lot of leeway, but that’s it. Teacher’s or school administrators beating kids should be criminal all the time.

      1. Children do need to be disciplined, and it should be done by their (two) parents. The question of teachers providing it should be less relevant, and would be, if it weren’t for the state’s incremental and coordinated destruction of the family.

  16. “We’re going to do away with the paddle, and the barbaric practice of hitting children, which might damage their self-esteem. Instead we’ll call police officers with guns to come arrest the children and haul them off to jail.”

    Yeah, that’ll work.

    Back in the day I remember getting paddled twice, and both times I thoroughly deserved it. Once was when three or four of us guys were playing keep-away with a girl’s purse and it got flipped up on the roof. The teacher called a janitor to get it down. Then she lined us up, gave us four each, and required us to apologize. It made exactly the kind of impression I needed; I still won’t touch a purse without the owner’s explicit permission. OTOH the principal and our official school record never knew it happened.

    Today’s sanctions tend to do just the opposite. They go on the permanent record, but don’t impress the kid.

  17. “John Stewart even got in on the game.”

    That means something, because…?

    “PolicyMic’s Alex Collazo suggests it’s these types of disparities that keep corporal punishment alive and well in American schools (despite the fact that 80 percent of U.S. parents and 72 percent of all Americans are against it)”

    One, it would be OK if there was a quota system of which racial or ethnic groups receive corporal punishment? Two, what does it matter what all Americans think of the subject when it is a state and local issue?

  18. Parents AND teachers NOT spanking their kids and students is more of a problem than those that do. Kids today are out of control. It’s time to take them back a notch to a time when us baby boomers were in school. We were spanked when it was deserved and we turned out to be responsible citizens in spite of having a tender bottom and the humiliation we got.

  19. You people are fucked. It is a basic principle that violence should not be initiated except in self defense. How does that not apply even more strongly when dealing with children who can’t defend themselves?

    1. Nonsense, if someone tries to break into my house and steal my stuff, I will use violence to protect my stuff. If you hit my wife I will hit you harder. Your basic principle is simply begging the question.

    2. 1. The child initiated the force through the action that led to the spanking (IOW, if the child didn’t initiate force, the indiscretion is probably not worthy of spanking).

      2. Spanking is not violence (unless you’re a complete pussy). If you are spanking to discourage inappropriate behavior, THAT’S not violence. If you are striking the child in anger, that’s a different story.

  20. What? How is this even be ok? We live in the 21st century and we are not barbarians or something. There are plenty of methods of how to punish a pupil. A teacher can simply give additional home assignment. Like you know I was once given on essay – find HelpOnEssay for papers assistance – where I was supposed to describe why my behavior was bad and stuff. Same thing can be applied all the time. I mean there are many other ways. A teacher should not be in charge of giving spanks.

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