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

In this 125-page report, the ACLU and Human Rights Watch found that in Texas and Mississippi children ranging in age from 3 to 19 years old are routinely physically punished for minor infractions such as chewing gum, talking back to a teacher, or violating the dress code, as well as for more serious transgressions such as fighting. Corporal punishment, legal in 21 states, typically takes the form of "paddling," during which an administrator or teacher hits a child repeatedly on the buttocks with a long wooden board.

Corporal punishment violates international human rights standards binding on the U.S., including norms prohibiting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and protecting the right to dignity. The report shows that, as a result of paddling, many children are left injured, degraded, and disengaged from school.

Download the report >>
(Executive Summary (PDF))


Table of Contents

I Summary and Key Recommendations 1
II Methodology 11
III Corporal Punishment in US Public Schools 14
IV Offenses Leading to Corporal Punishment 35
V Prevalence of Corporal Punishment in US Public Schools 42
VI Impact of Corporal Punishment 50
VII Best Practices in School Discipline 60
VIII The Use of Corporal Punishment against Specific Groups 69
IX Regulating Discipline in Schools 84
X Seeking Redress for Corporal Punishment 94
XI Banning Corporal Punishment 102
XII Conclusion and Recommendations 118
  Acknowledgments 126

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