Corporal punishment persists in many Alabama schools

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Think being yelled at by a teacher or being sent to detention is bad? Nearly 19,000 Alabama students were paddled in the 2013-2014 school year.

That’s according to newly available data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which found more than 4,000 schools across the country, and several within Alabama, still use corporal punishment as a form of discipline.

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Despite calls from the U.S. Department of Education to curb punitive discipline — which has been shown to affect minority and disabled students disproportionately — Alabama and 18 other states still allow corporal punishment in their public schools, although parental permission is often required.

In fact, 107 of Alabama’s 133 school districts use corporal punishment, which ranks the Yellowhammer Sate third in the nation in percentage of students paddled overall, at 2.5 percent.

Several medical and human rights groups have called for an end to the practice of paddling, calling it ineffective and potentially harmful.

“You want to keep kids in the classroom, but to suggest that the only way to keep them in is to beat them with a stick is ludicrous,” said Dennis Parker, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program.

“Paddling can cause pain, humiliation, and in some cases deep bruising or other lasting physical or mental injury,” an ACLU-Human Rights Watch report said.

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In Alabama, males are paddled at a 4.5-to-1 rate over females. The data also shows black students disproportionately receive physical discipline as opposed to white students.

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2 Comments

  1. How are some schools, whole states, and over l00 countries able to educate children without paddling? New Jersey has not allowed corporal punishment since the mid-1800’s and yet has much better education results than Alabama. Paddling does not improve behavior or learning and is a risky discipline. It’s time for child advocates and professional organizations serving children and families to take this issue to the state legislature so Alabama can join 31 other states in banning it. See the book Breaking the Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment for why it should be banned and how to do it.

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