One of the most controversial topics in education is whether or not kids should be paddled in school as a form of discipline. Nineteen states still allow teachers to hit students with a paddle in public schools. Mississippi, Texas and Alabama have the highest paddling occurrences in the country.
One city in Alabama is particularly known for it's high paddling rates. Selma is best known for its place in civil rights history. But these days, it could also be known as the "Paddling Capital of Alabama".
According to the most recent U.S. Department of Education statistics, during the 2013-2014 school year, nearly 65% of the 7th and 8th graders at this school were spanked with a paddle for disciplinary reasons. That’s a higher percentage than any other school in Alabama.
Some parents have mixed emotions.
When my kids were in school, I sent a note to school saying no spanking, because I did the spanking at home.
Harry Saulsberry and his fiance Betty Thompson have six kids and are a house divided because they have opposing views on school paddling. “Sometimes it takes that to get their attention,” Saulsberry told ABC 33/40 News Investigates. “They know that they’re going to get paddled, then they’ll be in line and they’ll be disciplined to that."
Recent national research on corporal punishment in schools uncovered some interesting facts.
In Alabama and Mississippi, African-American children are more likely to be paddled than white children in over half of school districts. That’s according to a study released last month by the Society for Research in Child Development.
The author of the study says that doesn’t mean there’s discrimination. But it does mean paddling is more prevalent in predominately African-American schools.
More than 30 organizations oppose corporal punishment in schools, including the American Psychological Association.
The opportunity to potentially harm a child both psychologically and physically is very high.
They believe many studies have shown that spanking, hitting and other means of causing pain, can lead to increased aggression, anti-social behavior, physical injury and mental health problems for children.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of public schools to administer corporal punishment nearly 40 years ago.
Alabama law allowed for paddling in 1995. It prohibits excessive force & cruel and unusual punishment. The state law directs local school boards to adopt their own codes of conduct and procedures.