Schoolchildren are told to "bend over & grab your ankles"

OpEdNews, By Julie Worley, March 7, 2009

Schoolchildren are told to "bend over & grab your ankles"

What is school corporal punishment?

It is the intentional infliction of physical pain for breaking school rules. In 21 states, a quarter of a million U.S. school children annually are told, "Bend over, grab your ankles and take your swats." They are frequently hit for minor reasons like forgetting homework, dress code violations, or being late for school. Many of them are hit multiple times. An estimated two percent of those children need medical treatment.

Why should school corporal punishment be ended?

School corporal punishment (paddling) is disproportionately administered to poor children, boys, children with disabilities and minorities. There is no evidence that it works and much evidence that it is harmful. It subjects school officials to lawsuits for paddling injuries. School corporal punishment doesn't prevent violence or increase academic achievement. Most states allowing corporal punishment have lower achievement and graduation rates than states banning it. Most of the school shootings have taken place in paddling states and seven ten states with the highest paddling rates also have the highest proportion of their adult population incarcerated. Almost all states ban corporal punishment in child care, foster care and in institutions for children. It is banned in Catholic Diocesan schools in ALL 50 states.

Shouldn't banning corporal punishment be left to states?

There have been campaigns for bans in state legislatures where corporal punishment is allowed during the past few years but there have been only two successes since l994, Pennsylvania and Delaware. State legislatures have been unresponsive to this problem with legislators often excusing it as a "local control" issue.

What is a federal remedy for ending school corporal punishment?

A federal remedy could protect children by denying funds to educational programs where corporal punishment is allowed. In March of 1991, Representative Major Owens introduced such an amendment. There were twenty co-sponsors for that bill including some current leaders in Congress. Every federal education program imposes conditions on how schools can and cannot use federal money. This bill is consistent with that tradition.

The federal government prohibits physical punishment to train animals under the Animal Welfare Act, the Horse Protection Act and other laws. Are not children deserving of this protection?

We urge you to consider helping end this barbaric and ineffective practice by sponsoring and/or supporting an amendment tying school funding to corporal punishment bans. Please contact us for more information and support. For information about corporal punishment of children, see

Please help the U.S. join over l00 countries that have ended corporal punishment of school children.

In a report issued on August 20, 2008 entitled "A Violent Education," Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union cite U.S. Education Department statistics that find school personnel in the 2006-07 school year reported disciplining 223,190 students by hitting, spanking or similar means. Alice Farmer, the report's author, found that children are routinely paddled for "minor infractions" such as chewing gum or violating school dress codes. "It's just fundamentally ineffective in terms of improving school discipline," she says.

"It doesn't teach kids why what they did was wrong; it doesn't show them better behavior. What it does is teach them to be violent."

The cost to Eliminate educators'  right to assault and batter schoolchildren is $0.

There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children -Nelson Mandela

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