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School CP - July 2014

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Tulsa World, Oklahoma, 14 July 2014

Oklahoma among 19 states that still allow paddling in public schools, but most districts don't

By Kim Archer
World Staff Writer

paddle on desk

Map of US paddling states

If you thought paddling kids at school was a long-gone tradition, think again.

Oklahoma is one of 19 states in the country that still allows corporal punishment in schools. The state ranked sixth highest for the number of paddlings in 2009-10, behind Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia, according to the latest U.S. Department of Education data. Louisiana ranks just behind Oklahoma.

The latest national data shows there were around 200,000 instances of paddling in U.S. schools during the 2009-10 year, the most recent year with available figures.

Despite Oklahoma's high ranking, the practice clearly is trending lower in the state. In Oklahoma that year, there were more than 11,000 instances of kids being paddled at school, down from more than 15,000 spanking incidents in 2005-06, the Department of Education estimates.

"I think that this generation of parents isn't as supportive of corporal punishment as the past generation," said Berryhill Superintendent Mike Campbell.

Most states that continue to allow spankings at school are bunched in the South, with Mississippi leading the pack in the number of spankings in 2009-10 at more than 40,000.

Oklahoma statute on corporal punishment
21 O.S. ¶ 30-844. Ordinary force for discipline of children permitted.
Provided, however, that nothing contained in this act shall prohibit any parent, teacher or other person from using ordinary force as a means of discipline, including but not limited to spanking, switching or paddling.

The decision to use physical punishment in Oklahoma schools is left up to each district. Most urban and suburban school districts in Oklahoma no longer allow paddling, including Tulsa, Oklahoma City and surrounding areas. Schools that employ physical punishment are generally clustered in small, rural districts.

John Cox, president of the state's Organization of Rural Elementary Schools, said: "Many of our rural schools still allow paddling, as such in my case, but we use it sparingly. It is more important to us that we find out the root of the misbehavior and use that information to correct future behavior, instead of a quick fix of punishment with a paddle."

Cox is superintendent of Peggs Public School in northeast Oklahoma and is running for state superintendent.

Numerous professional groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Parent Teachers Association, the American Medical Association and the National Education Association, oppose the practice.

"Corporal punishment is a technique that is easily abused, leads to physical injuries, and can cause serious emotional harm," the National Association of School Psychologists said in its position statement.

Berryhill Public Schools still has no official ban on corporal punishment in its policy, but Campbell said he and other administrators decided several years ago to no longer use physical punishment.

"It just sets us up for potential litigation," Campbell said.

That is why more and more districts are deciding to abandon the practice, said Julie Miller, deputy executive director and general counsel for the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

"From a legal perspective, it's very difficult. If a teacher were just to stop class and administer physical punishment to a student, then there could become a negligent supervision issue with the rest of the students in the classroom," Miller said.

And then there is the risk of being accused of child abuse, she said.


Two years ago, a Cordell woman filed a police report alleging her 12-year-old son sustained large bruises after being paddled at school, despite the fact her husband had given his approval. The county district attorney didn't file charges because he said that instance of paddling didn't break state law. But schools no longer want to take the risk that a case would go the other way.

Berryhill uses alternative forms of discipline, and Campbell said those have worked well. "All we're looking for is to find ways to alter negative behavior. I don't care what discipline we have as long as it's effective."

He believes paddling is effective for some children and not for others.

"I know I was paddled as a child, and I grew up to be a productive citizen," he said. But he understands parental concerns that school officials may not be careful when paddling. When Berryhill used corporal punishment, Campbell instructed his principals to never paddle a child when angry, to have a witness, and to use only reasonable force. Parents were also able to sign opt-out forms.

"But I'm sure there may be some administrators out there that don't exercise good judgment," he said. Some parents actually request that the district paddle their child, but Campbell said he doesn't oblige. "That's the parent's job," he said.

Cox said he believes the decision to use corporal punishment should remain a local decision and that parents should have a choice in the form of punishment used.

"I also believe it is our job to help teach children that they should behave in the correct manner because it is the right thing to do, instead of just trying to avoid punishment," he said. "Corporal punishment relies on the use of fear and is a quick fix; behavior management technique works with the root cause of the misbehavior and may also have a lasting effect."

© 2014 BH Media Group Holdings, Inc.

Corpun file 25464 at

ABC News logo (KOCO5-TV), Oklahoma City, 15 July 2014

Oklahoma: 1 of 19 states to allow paddling in schools

Putnam City says it's last resort for misbehaving children


How would you feel if your kids were paddled or spanked for misbehaving in school? It's a controversial way to discipline kids, but it's a practice going on in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is one of only 19 states that still allows students who misbehave to be spanked. Some parents are horrified by this punishment, while others say it's a great way to keep kids in line.

Corporal punishment isn't allowed in Oklahoma City schools, but it is in Putnam City, even though the district says no kids have been spanked in the last five years.

"It's in policy as a last resort, so if you've tried everything else and parents are requesting this, that might be something that you could get to," Steve Lindley, communications director for Putnam City Schools, said. "People have strong feelings about it, but it's really not something that happens a lot in our schools, it's not something that we deal with."

However, it is happening across the state. According to the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, corporal punishment was administered 11,136 times during the 2009 school year, the last year data was available.

It's a hot button issue, with parents sitting on both sides of the fence.

"I would flip out," Ashley Horn said. "I don't send my son to go to school to get punished, he's supposed to be there to learn, and if they have any problems they need to call me and I'll deal with it."

Gail Wooden, a parent and grandparent, echoed Horn's sentiment.

"They might get carried away, I just don't agree with it, I think they should call the parent if they have a problem," Wooden said.

But others disagree, and say paddling is a good way to keep kids in line.

"They should be allowed to paddle kids in school because it helps the teachers be able to keep control of the kids more easier," John Pearson said.

"If they think they're going to get paddled and disciplined, then they won't do it as much," said another parent and friend of Pearson's.

According to Lindley, Putnam City not only calls parents if there is a problem with a student, but they actually have multiple disciplinary measures that are enforced before corporal punishment is ever brought up.

If paddling is to be used, only a principal or assistant principal can deliver the punishment.

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