Texas Leads Country In School Paddling

(August 20, 2008)—Nationwide, 223,190 students received corporal punishment during the 2006-2007 school year, and 49,197 of them were in Texas, according to a study released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch.

Texas leads the U.S. in the use of corporal punishment, followed by Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida and Missouri, the study says.

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The study also found that blacks, American Indians and children with disabilities got a disproportionate share of the punishment.

The study used Education Department data to show that, while paddling has been declining, racial disparity persists.

Researchers also interviewed students, parents and school personnel in Texas and Mississippi, states that account for 40 percent of the 223,190 children who were paddled at least once during the 2006-2007 school year.

"Minority students in public schools already face barriers to success," said Alice Farmer, Aryeh Neier Fellow at Human Rights Watch and the ACLU, and author of the report..

"By exposing these children to disproportionate rates of corporal punishment, schools create a hostile environment in which these students may struggle even more."

Even younger children can be paddled.

Heather Porter of Crockett, Texas, was startled to hear her little boy, then age 3, say he'd been spanked at school.

Porter was never told, despite a policy at the public preschool that parents be notified.

Porter could have filled out a form telling the school not to paddle her son, if only she had realized he might be paddled.

Yet many parents find that such forms are ignored, the study said.

"Every public school needs effective methods of discipline, but beating kids teaches violence and it doesn't stop bad behavior," Farmer said.

"Corporal punishment discourages learning, fails to deter future misbehavior and at times even provokes it,” she said.

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