Title IX Complaint Against Paddling States
February 6, 2010

The following was filed with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights on February 6, 2010 by the Coalition Against School Paddling* against the state departments of education in these states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

This complaint arises not from specific acts of discrimination but rather from the ongoing practice of paddling in public schools throughout the state of [state's name].

Paddling is a form of punishment that involves striking a student on the buttocks with a wooden paddle in order to inflict pain. The paddle may have holes drilled through it to reduce wind resistance and thereby maximize the velocity with which it can be swung. Generally, the student being paddled is required to bend forward at the waist to receive the blows, often with their pelvis braced against a desk.

School paddling is inconsistent with Title IX because it inherently impacts boys and girls unequally. Unlike boys, girls who have entered puberty would have to reveal intimate personal information in order to avoid the chance of this punishment being unfairly compounded by menstrual discomfort, or of being a risk factor where there is the possibility of pregnancy or other female-specific vulnerabilities. Either the school callously and/or recklessly does not address such concerns when paddling girls (concerns which many students may be too embarrassed or intimidated to volunteer), or it intrusively does inquire about them.

There are at least two known incidents where paddling had medical consequences due to a student being female, one in Dunn, N.C. from 1981 (ref: "Don't Inflict My Pain on Others," by Shelly S. Gaspersohn, USA Today, October 23, 1984) and another in Scioto County, Ohio from 1997 (ref: "Some Ohio schools not sparing the rod – Corporal punishment allowed in districts," The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), September 24, 2000).

With children of any age, moreover, discomfort following a paddling is apt to be greater for girls, due to pressure on the inflamed and/or contused area of their bodies resulting from their normal mode of urination or, alternatively, to muscular discomfort if they awkwardly avoid this pressure. This disparity was illustrated in the case of an 8-year-old in Florida who had to use her hands to support herself astride a toilet in order to urinate without aggravating the lingering pain she was experiencing (ref: State v. Paul E. King, Florida Supreme Court Case No. SC05-258).

We assert that students, male and female alike, have a constitutional right to be disciplined in a way on which their gender has no bearing. Paddling clearly fails that test.

*See Coalition membership and contact information at www.nospank.net/title9-pr.pdf

Return to:
FRONT PAGE - www.nospank.net
Newsroom Index
Advocacy and Protest
Violence toward children in the classroom