The Elephant in the Room

The ALCU posted this article from Slate, and the headline immediately caught my attention. The title is Black, Male, and Disabled Children Bear the Brunt of Corporal Punishment in U.S. Public Schools.

I read the title several times and finally I opened the article, because I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading.

According to a recent data analysis from the Society for Research in Child Development, black children, boys, and students with disabilities are disproportionately subjected to corporal punishment, usually with a wooden paddle or a teacher’s hand.

Are you being serious right now?

Children as young as preschool students get struck, spanked, and otherwise physically punished for all manner of conduct violations in schools, sometimes for trivial transgressions like using a cell phone or failing to complete a homework assignment. Students with disabilities, who are over 50 percent more likely to experience corporal punishment than nondisabled students in two-thirds of Alabama school districts, are often physically disciplined for behaviors that are directly related to their disabilities. A 2009 report from Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union described cases of “students with Tourette syndrome being punished for exhibiting involuntary tics and students with autism being punished for repetitive behaviors such as rocking.”

Are you really being serious right now?

Can we just back up a minute? Everything I have just read is terrible. Absolutely horrible. But there is a giant elephant in the room that I feel the article is completely skating over.


It is still legal to hit kids in schools? In 2016, not 1855? IT IS STILL LEGAL TO HIT KIDS IN SCHOOLS?! You’re telling me that there is a legal way for a strange, unrelated adult to put their hands on your child’s ass and cause them physical harm?

The post continues

In a 2003 position paper, the Society for Adolescent Medicine reported thousands of students have required medical treatment for hematomas, abrasions, whiplash, and fat hemorrhage as a result of school officials’ physical discipline.

The SRCD’s new analysis notes that states that have banned corporal punishment in schools have not seen a rise in juvenile crime

Yea no shit Captain Obvious! You’re telling me that, in 2016, people are still trying to make the argument that not allowing strange adults to beat your kids with a wooden weapon will make them more likely to commit crime?!

I had to look at the legality of this across the world. Have I just been living in a bubble of good schools, and my peers around me have been getting beaten by their teachers with me being none the wiser?

I came across this handy infographics on Wikipedia, which confirmed my suspicions.


Guys, even Russia has banned corporal punishment in schools, and they’re not exactly known for having liberal pushover governments. According to Wikipedia, even the United Arab Emirates have banned corporal punishment in schools.

I’ve posted before about the cultural differences between the US and Italy when it comes to corporal punishment in general, but this goes beyond the pale. Please, catch up to the rest of the world and end this madness.

Of course if I had known that this was still going on in the US, I would have expected that black male and disabled students would be unfairly targeted. Just like they are the most likely to die at the hands of the police, it is unsurprising that they are also more targeted in schools as well. However, unlike police violence, this problem is a very easy one to solve.

Just ban corporal punishment in schools. For everyone.


  1. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    Well, the good news is that students are being taught that violence and threats of violence solves problems. We wouldn’t want kids to grow up in a world where they look for the underlying problem, or try to find ways everyone can win, or avoid scapegoating.

    On another note, compare that map of the US with a map of states likely to vote for Trump. Hmmmm.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    Ooh, I have an interesting footnote!

    I went to elementary school back in the late 60s, in Ohio. There was definitely corporal punishment there; being sent to the principal’s office was widely dreaded, and both he and the assistant principal had paddles that they used frequently. I think I was on the receiving end of one twice: once for organizing a sponge fight, and once for hanging over a railing.

    But here’s the strange thing. The working-class town I lived in was almost 100% white — mostly Italians and Poles. The only black man I knew in town was — my school principal (whom I quite respected and admired).

    Looking back in adulthood, I am now amazed that none of those parents seem to have had a problem (as far as I know) with a black man spanking their children.

    But yes, I agree with you — this stuff is barbaric and needs to be gotten rid of.

  3. Some Old Programmer says

    I grew up in California and went to public schools once I was old enough. The only time I was spanked was in preschool (which, to be clear, was private). A Christian preschool. And I had no idea why. I found out later that I had blasphemed–in expressing surprise to a classmate I’d said “God, Beverly!”. I still remember the bafflement I felt when I was being punished.
    There’s a reason I will only consider living in a blue state, and even actively avoid some areas when traveling.

  4. Julie Worley says

    The worst part of Corporal Pain Punishment of Children in U.S. Schools is that Legal Remedies Essential to 1977 U.S. Supreme Court ruling “Ingraham v Wright” are ROUTINELY DENIED when Prosecutors decline to bring assault charges against school employees who cross the line with excessive physical force and injure and traumatize students, leaving parents with no legal redress, even civil lawsuits go nowhere because laws allow children to be hit with implements by adults in schools with no rules, no safety requirements, no training to protect children.

    School Paddling states often have “Teacher Immunity Laws” that protect school employees from criminal/civil action when they brutally assault children!

    10/17/2016 National Education Association NEA Today: U.S. SUPREME COURT  #SCOTUS MUST Overturn “Ingraham v Wright” Legitimizes Violent Pain Punishment of Children in Schools #ESSA
    Parenting’sTroubledHistory:Why changing familyPatterns is our most important work #SCHOOLSasNoHitZones
    ‘No Hit Zone’ expanded in Dane Co. with tips for parents #ACEs #SCHOOLSasNoHitZones
    Witnessing Violence can change a kid’s mind #SCHOOLSasNoHitZones #ACEs

    • Julie Worley says

      See SCHOOL PADDLING BLOG dot com, schools have no way to prevent cell phone recording or sharing of school spankings of children

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Anybody care to take a small bet as to whether Erdogan will instate corporal punishment in Turkish schools to punish the coup attempt?

  6. Siobhan says

    According to Wikipedia, even the United Arab Emirates have banned corporal punishment in schools.

    Man, the UAE is not a high bar to jump.

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