NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Paddling Gets Last Licks in Dallas Schools

June 19, 2003

Dallas Independent School District administrators are proposing to end -- or at least to sharply curtail -- one of the oldest forms of schoolhouse punishment: paddling.

Nationally, 27 states have banned corporal punishment; Texas is among 23 states where it remains legal, according to the U.S. Department of Education. According to a 1999 U.S. Department of Education survey:

  • That year, nearly 74,000 of Texas' 3.9 million students were paddled -- of which about 83 percent were boys.
  • Although blacks made up 14 percent of Texas students, they were 24 percent of those paddled.
  • Whites were 43 percent of students and 51 percent of those paddled, while Hispanics were 40 percent of students and 24 percent of those paddled.

The state leaves it up to school districts to determine whether students may be struck as punishment -- DISD has allowed paddling without a parent's permission. Some area districts have banned the practice, while others require parents to sign a waiver allowing educators to paddle their children.

Corporal punishment is a topic parents and advocacy groups often weigh in on. Some, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, have come out against it.

"Corporal punishment may affect adversely a student's self-image and school achievement and ... contribute to disruptive and violent student behavior," says an American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement.

In Dallas, the idea of ending corporal punishment is meeting resistance from black trustees who cite a cultural preference for paddling.

Source: Tawnell D. Hobbs, "DISD may end paddling," Dallas Morning News, June 18, 2003.


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