Spare the Rod or Swing the Paddle: How to Punish Students

Does Paddling Kids Increase Drop-Out Rates?

Although his children do not attend a school that allows corporal punishment, Rozier said that, if it were offered, he would sign a permission slip to let his children's teachers beat his kids with a paddle. Rozier said he spanks his children at home when they misbehave.

"Kids don't wanna get spanked, but when you're working in line with parents, it works pretty good because it's a great deterrent," he said. "The alternative to getting the two or three licks is to go home. So that's the objective: to keep the kids in school. I think it works very well."

But some parents and researchers believe that corporal punishment encourages quite the opposite.

"Not surprisingly, the states with the highest rates of corporal punishment have the highest rate of dropout," said Jordan Riak the founder and executive director of nospank.net, a non-profit organization he founded after his sons were physically punished at their school in Australia. "Good teachers don't hit children. All you have to look at is the highest-performing school districts in the United States."

In his research, Riak found that within the United States, seven of the 10 states with the highest rates of school paddling were also among the states with the top 10 highest rates of lynching during the slavery era. Riak said he believes that beating children teaches them that once they're in a position of authority, they can control a person with physical force.

"Most of the civilized world and the best-run schools don't use corporal punishment," he said. "In the most extreme, you could relate student spanking to restoring order to the American family by allowing a husband to smack his wife so that she won't open bank accounts or not divorce him. I don't think anybody in their right mind would say we could control divorce rates if we let husbands smack their wives."

Paddling Gets Compliance, Linked to Aggression

Leading child psychologists have found that the practice has troubling consequences for children.

A 2002 study by the American Psychological Association found "strong associations" between corporal punishment and negative behaviors such as increased child aggression and antisocial behavior. The only positive behavior linked to the practice was increased immediate compliance on the part of the child.

Nadine Block, a former school psychologist and the executive director of the Center for Effective Discipline, said the practice has been banned in more than 106 countries and that corporal punishment does psychological as well as physical harm to children.

"It doesn't get at the problem – it's an administrative quick fix where the teacher is happy and the kid is crying," she said. "What does it teach the kid about what to do in the future? [Teachers] are supposed to be teaching life skills. If your employee comes in late, what do you do? Give them a swat?"

Teacher Sued, But Unrepentant

Some teachers have been sued for engaging in the practice and lawmakers have been stymied in their attempts to legalize the practice in their states.

Ted Anderson, a history teacher and basketball coach at Douglas High School in Memphis, Tenn., was sued by a student at his former high school after he paddled the boy for disrespecting him.

The case was eventually dismissed but Anderson was suspended from his position and the city banned the practice in city schools.

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