200,000 Kids Physically Punished In School

Heather Porter couldn't believe it when her son Cameron, who was three at the time, told her he'd been spanked with a paddle at his pre-school outside Houston.

"I just felt like I couldn't protect him," Porter said. "I don't, I don't even spank him at home."

According to a new report, boys like Cameron are three times as likely to be paddled in school as girls.

Of the nearly quarter-million kids physically disciplined across the country:
  • African-American girls were hit more than twice as often as white girls.
  • And kids with disabilities and Native Americans were also more likely to be hit.

    The report's authors say corporal punishment creates a violent school environment, and is not conducive to learning.

    "So when you compound that with students who already have obstacles to a good education, like African-American students or special education students, that really creates a double-edged sword," said Alice Farmer, co-author of the Human Rights Watch report.

    Corporal punishment is against the law in schools in most of the country, but it remains legal in 21 states, from Wyoming to Florida.

    And often it takes the form of paddling. A teacher or an administrator uses a board to hit a child on the behind.

    Learn more and read the report.
    Opponents call it a form of abuse. But supporters say it works.

    "You know, they may think about doing something but when they think about corporal punishment, that fear will make them say, 'No, I don't think I'm going to do that right now,'" said former junior high school principal Anthony Price.

    There's been little research done on the effectiveness of corporal punishment in schools, but plenty of studies have shown it doesn't work in the home.

    "It makes them more aggressive, more delinquent and makes them have more mental health problems," said Elizabeth Gershoff, assistant professor of social work at the University of Michigan. "Some of these outcomes even last until adulthood."

    Heather Porter's son now goes to another pre-school. She hopes the paddling he received at his old one will be his last.
    • Kelly Wallace

    Comments

    Follow Us