Corporal Punishment of Children

Document Date: February 19, 2009

Corporal punishment — most often, paddling — can cause deep bruising or other lasting physical or mental injury. Furthermore, it creates a violent, degrading school environment in which all students — and particularly students with disabilities — may struggle to succeed. The use of corporal punishment in US public schools must end. There are positive, non-violent approaches to school discipline that have been proven to lead to safe environments in which children can learn.

> Report: Impairing Education: Corporal Punishment of Students with Disabilities in U.S. Public Schools


Map: The use of corporal punishment on children with disabilities >>


Report: Impairing Education: Corporal Punishment of Students with Disabilities in U.S. Public Schools
8/11/2009 – Students with disabilities face corporal punishment in public schools at disproportionately high rates according to a report by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch. Corporal punishment can worsen students’ medical conditions and undermine their education.

Take Action: Stand with the ACLU Against Corporal Punishment >>

Podcast: ACLU attorneys Alice Farmer and Catherine Kim

Impairing Education

> Report: A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in U.S. Public Schools


Click on the map to learn more about corporal punishment incidents in your state >>


Report: A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in U.S. Public Schools
8/19/2008 – In this comprehensive analysis, the ACLU and Human Rights Watch found that Texas and Mississippi children from 3 to 19 years old are routinely physically punished for minor infractions such as chewing gum, as well as for more serious transgressions such as fighting. The report shows that, as a result of paddling, many children are left injured, degraded, and disengaged from school.

Podcast: Alice Farmer, Aryeh Neier Fellow with the ACLU’s Human Rights Program and Human Rights Watch

A Violent Education


> Blog: Stop Beating Students with Disabilities in Schools (8/11/2009)
> Blog: Ohio Bans Corporal Punishment (7/20/2009)
> Blog: End Abusive, Discriminatory Discipline in Schools: Give All Students a Chance to Thrive (12/16/2008)
> Blog: Putting an End to Beatings in Public Schools (8/23/2008)


> Article: Teachers College Record – Corporal Punishment in U.S. Public Schools: Prevalent, Abusive, and Ineffective (9/28/2009)
> Opinion: The Huffington Post – Stop Beating Students with Disabilities in Schools (8/11/2009)
> News: Students With Disabilities Face Corporal Punishment At Higher Rates (8/10/09)
> Ten Steps Against Corporal Punishment (8/10/2009)
> Article: PTA Magazine – No Way to Treat A Child (1/1/09)
> Opinion: Toledo Blade – Putting away the paddle (7/23/20009)
> Testimony: Dennis D. Parker – Before the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues Minorities and the Right to Education (12/15/2008)
> Report: Recent Developments and Recommendations by the ACLU regarding Minority Access to Education in the United States (12/7/2008)
> Article: Legal Problems with Corporal Punishment, published in the American School Board Journal, January 2009
> Advocacy Letter: Ohio
> Article: Administrator Magazine – Why Are We Still Hitting?
> Map: Corporal Punishment Incidents State-By-State
> Learn more: The School-to-Prison-Pipeline


> Article: Wall Street Journal – Spanking Kids in School Still Common, Especially Among Disabled (9/1/2009)
> Article: NY Times – Disabled Students are Spanked More (8/10/2009)
> Article: AP -Study finds minorities more likely to be paddled (8/20/2008)
> Article: CNN – More than 200,000 kids spanked at school (8/20/2008)
> Article: Reuters – Corporal punishment seen rife in U.S. schools (8/20/2008)
> Article: USA Today – Groups: End physical discipline in school (8/20/2008)
> Article: US News and World Report – Paddlings Widespread in South, Study Says (8/20/2008)

“[the coach] hit me so hard I felt nauseous at my stomach. [Later] I looked in the mirror and I had bruises all over.”
– Brittany Y., student paddled in middle school, Mississippi.

“There’s always a risk of a teacher hitting too hard. How can you control how hard a kid is hit?”
– Former teacher, Texas.

“What made me so angry – he’s three years old, he was petrified… he didn’t want to go back to school… I was so worried that this was going to constantly be with him, equating going to school with being paddled.”
– Parent whose three-year-old was paddled, rural Texas.

“Think about the mental capacity this kind of treatment leaves our children with. We are telling them we don’t respect them. They leave that principal’s office and they think, ‘they don’t consider me as a human being.”
– School Board member, Mississippi.

Selected documents from A Violent Education

Table of Nationwide Prevalence of Corporal Punishment PDF

Case Study of Allison Guthrie, Teenage Girl Paddled PDF

Disproportionate Punishment of African-American Girls PDF

Discussion of International Human Rights Standards Prohibiting Corporal Punishment PDF

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