I originally wrote this blog post for parenting blog This Mommy Gig; it appeared on August 26th, 2008. I have edited it slightly for inclusion on my blog.
Last week, CNN.com reported that over 200,000 children in the US were spanked at school in the 2006-2007 school year. As I read the article (with this blog post in mind), I took note of what I felt were some the key takeaways:
- Corporal punishment is legal in 21 states, but only used frequently in 13
- Texas led the paddling pack with 48,197 students receiving CP that year
- CP was disproportionately applied to Black students (17.1% of the population received 35.6% of those swats, and was 1.4 times more likely to be paddled than White students)
- A mother whose 13-year-old son was paddled was told by school administrators that paddling is “the quick and dirty way of dealing with discipline problems”
I was originally going to focus this piece on the utter dearth of empirical support for corporal punishment (sorry, my access to EBSCOhost is limited over the summer), but then I got to the user comments, where I was taken aback by the overwhelming support for corporal punishment in schools. Scroll down to the end of the article to the “Sound Off” section (can’t link to it directly) to read the comments.
Go ahead; I’ll wait.
Please don’t get me wrong, folks: I’m not here to tell you how to raise or punish your kids, and I know that the spank/no-spank debate is a hot-button issue on successful dates in parenting circles. My concern in this instance stems not from whether or not people spank their kids, but rather that so many people seem willing to put this decision in the hands of their children’s schools.
Postscript: As I read this article, I was reminded of someone I once knew who told me she “could not wait” for her son to turn 1 so she could start spanking him (not sure how she came by that magic metric). We had quite a few discussions about parenting, but never did I feel less comfortable than when she’d talk about spanking with such fervor. I always thought the phrase “a gleam in one’s eye” was just a figure of speech until I heard her wax romantic about the ways she could, would, and did spank her child.
Post-Postscript: Check some statistics regarding the breakdown of corporal punishment in public schools by state and race at The Center for Effective Discipline. I’m genuinely curious as to how many of us work in schools where corporal punishment is practiced, and if so, what does that look like?