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School CP - December 2016

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West Plains Daily Quill, Missouri, 6 December 2016

Howell Valley: Parents question school corporal punishment policy

By Abby Hess

Howell Valley School

Some Howell Valley School District parents are saying they would prefer school officials not to spank their children, but district and school officials say they will continue to do what is allowed by Missouri State Law.

Melissa Dancer's family recently transferred from Junction Hill School to Howell Valley.

When her 10-year-old was sent home with a notice that corporal punishment would be used if the child continues to have behavior issues, Dancer wrote back making her disapproval known, and called a local television station K38HE-D TV38.

The station aired an interview with Dancer the weekend before area schools were out for Thanksgiving break.

"I've never done anything like this before," Dancer told the Quill over the phone. "I was terrified but I knew I had to do something to protect my kids."

The Quill heard from several families over the course of that week, and spoke with district officials when school resumed.

"I don't want it spun in a negative way," Dancer told the Quill. "Because my kids still go there and we're going to make the best of it."

She explained that her child had been accused of being disrespectful and intentionally removing rocks from bleachers on the playground.

The day of the student's alleged offense, Dancer received a note requiring her signature, saying that a second offense would be handled with swats on the bottom. She said she was aware that corporal punishment is used by the district, but thought she could opt out.

"All it said in the handbook was, it was up to their discretion," said Dancer. "I thought I could opt out. I thought it was the law. I just assumed it would be like all the other rural schools."

Howell Valley's policy, last updated January 2015, says, "Corporal punishment should be used only after other methods have failed and when there is reason to believe it will be helpful in maintaining discipline or in the development of the student's character and power of self control."

The policy also requires at least one adult witness to the disciplinary act and limits the administration of said discipline to school and district administration.

West Plains R-7 and all other surrounding school districts also use corporal punishment, save for Richards, which has a policy that states corporal punishment cannot be administered to students at the school.

Howell-Oregon (Koshkonong) also employs swats but gives parents the option to opt out, the only area school to have an opt-out policy included in the student handbook.


Dancer's not opposed to swats as a form of discipline.

"I'm a firm believer in spanking, when they absolutely need it," said Dancer. "I just don't want anyone else touching (my child). If they're super unruly, let me deal with it."

Keyera Cockrum said her son was subject to swats last year when he was asked a question about a book and the teacher "didn't like his answer," sending him to the principal's office where he was coerced, Cockrum said, into admitting he'd done wrong.

"They have swatted my kids and they didn't tell me about it," she told the Quill. "They didn't call, ask or nothing." She also has a 10-year-old child in the school.

Cockrum said she approached principal Renee Miller and asked why she was not told.

"She said, 'What gives you the right to know?'" recalled Cockrum. "They told me on three different occasions they do not have to call."

Cockrum isn't opposed to corporal punishment, either. She would like to see more transparency and communication, as there once was, she says.

"I'm for it if they do something really wrong and they deserve it," she told the Quill, adding that, in the case of children with attention deficit, which she attributed to one of her children, "I don't think they should treat kids' medical problems that way."

A third parent, who asked not to be named, contacted the Quill said simply that she'd never had any negative experience with the school regarding discipline, but was concerned that the school could act without her permission.

"I was not aware of the fact that they are allowed to spank my child without my permission," said the parent. "No one spanks my kids but me. I say yes to the opt-out option."

"Either they let me swat my kid or they call me and get my permission before they ever touch my child. Or any other kid," Cockrum said. She said she has been told that, to change the policy, she must bring it before the school board, and is in the process of researching to do so.

Dancer said she wants a better relationship with the school, with strong communication.

"Those are my babies, they're my life," she told the Quill. "It's their job to protect them. They're supposed to be child advocates."

"I can't imagine (principal) Ms. Miller acting that way, or myself," Hatley said of the complaints regarding officials' treatment of concerned parents. "I can't."

He said that there are times when parents don't want to hear what administration has to say, they respond emotionally and it's difficult to have a conversation.

Hatley isn't upset about the recent publicity, or the parents' complaints, however. Taking it all in stride, he said, the extra attention serves a purpose.

"Like it or not, it starts a conversation," he said in an interview with the Quill at which Miller and school board president Chris Patillo were also present.

Miller suggested parents contact officials before addressing the media and, together, officials explained the policy as it is exists, and why.

"What you want to avoid is sending (the kids) out of the school," said Hatley.

"It isn't something that happens every day," added Miller. "The school district, community, the parents have high expectations of the school."

Hatley said the district isn't just teaching students, but is working to raise future productive adults who arrive to work on time and offer caring customer service. He said he uses what he hears from employers to guide student behavioral expectations.

And, according to Hatley, it works.

"We see results," he said. "Just like any punishment, not everything works on every child," he said speaking to recent studies that question the merits of corporal punishment.

Patillo said that a key factor in measuring the effectiveness of corporal punishment may well be demographic and some things work in a rural setting that don't in the city.

Parents and students are provided with a handbook at the beginning of the year that explains how swats may be used and, in compliance with state law, Hatley and Miller say they do always inform parents. But sometimes situations arise that call for immediate action and a call can't always be made before.

Parents do have recourse if they feel school officials did not act in line with policy. Officials explained to the Quill that the first step in making a complaint would be to go to the source of the issue.

Since teachers cannot administer swats, parents would first approach Ms. Miller and try to resolve the issue with her.

If that doesn't work or parents are not satisfied, the next step is to go to Hatley. And if that still doesn't work, all three officials recommend informing the board in writing of the issue and attending a board meeting.

Out of concern for the student's privacy, the board needs to be given time to allow for a closed session, a minimum of five days before the meeting is to be held.

"Ultimately, the board is the final authority," Miller said, while Patillo pointed out that each level of the district needs to have a chance to address the situation before them.

"Everyone here loves these kids," said Miller.

"It's a tough world out there. We want our students to be on top," Patillo said.

© Copyright 2017,, West Plains, MO.

Corpun file 26512 at

NPR logo

KUAR-UALR Public Radio, Little Rock, Arkansas, 8 December 2016

Arkansas Spanks: The Natural State Still Practices Public School Corporal Punishment

By Jacqueline Froelich


Wooden paddle inscribed 'Board of Correction'
Actual paddle used in the 1960s to discipline unruly children.

The hand, the strap, or the paddle?

Choosing the preferred instrument of pain as well as number of strokes against the bottoms of unruly public school students remains legal in Arkansas, and twenty-one other states.

"My understanding is that it's typically a wooden paddle," says Kristen Garner, staff attorney for Arkansas School Boards Association. She monitors public school discipline practices. "The most prevalent is to be spanked on the rear end."

Which is how Berryville Public Schools, in eastern Carroll County does it, says Superintendent Owen Powell, before a recent school board meeting.

"Corporal punishment is part of our school policy," he says. "But it's an option. We don't force students or parents to submit to it."

Berryville students cited with an infraction are sent to the principal's office where they are given a pink slip to take home, listing disciplinary choices: in-school-suspension where students are sequestered for several days, out of school suspension, or corporal punishment.

"The parent will have to circle which one they want and sign off for approval," he says.

Students then bring the pink slip back to the main office. If they opt to be spanked, their school principal doles it out.

Owen Powell
Berryville Public School Superintendent Owen Powell.

Arkansas school districts that practice corporal punishment must comply with Arkansas code which grants broad authority to physically strike children as well as immunity needed to defuse liability.

But each district in Arkansas sets and publishes disciplinary policies, and must log any actions -- spankings, suspensions and expulsions -- with the Arkansas Department of Education.

Alternative disciplinary practices may range from teacher/student or parent/teacher meetings, school counseling, deprivation of privileges, alternative school programming and Saturday detention.

Data on discipline rates in Berryville School District, located in eastern Carroll County, which is 25 percent English proficient and 74 percent low income, shows an increase in corporal punishment from 139 cases in 2013, to 229 so far this year. In contrast, Jonesboro Public Schools counts 372, Texarkana 64, and Pine Bluff 51 cases.

Fayetteville School District spokesperson Alan Wilbourn says his administration has not spanked a student for more than 20 years. And Pamela Smith with the Little Rock School District says her district prohibits it as well. But Berryville School District Superintendent Owen Powell says a majority of his parents choose corporal punishment over other measures.

"It's very much accepted in our community in Berryville," he says. "When we ask parents if you want your child to spend three days in in-school-suspension or have corporal punishment, three swats, overwhelmingly they choose corporal punishment."


Arkansas School Boards Association staff attorney Kristen Garner warns corporal punishment cannot be excessive, and must be witnessed. And individuals in districts that practice it, she says, are exposing themselves to civil lawsuits.

But Berryville School Superintendent Owen Powell says Arkansas school districts have a federal right to public school disciplinary choices.

"It goes back to local control, what is accepted in your community, by both parents and students."

Copyright 2016 Arkansas Public Media.

Corpun file 26507 at


The Town Talk, Alexandria, Louisiana, 10 December 2016

Corporal punishment causes controversy among Louisiana parents

By Miranda Klein and Lex Telamo


An in-school suspension room
An in-school suspension room in a Caddo Parish School. (Photo: Lex Talamo/edited by Henrietta Wildsmith)

When her family moved to Vernon Parish, Leigh Tuttle started researching kindergarten options. Coming from out of state, Tuttle was shocked to learn her son would be exposed to what she calls an "archaic corporal punishment system."

Louisiana is one of 19 states nationwide that still allow corporal punishment and ranks 10th for most incidents per year -- with more than 11,000 incidents of students being physically disciplined in 2008, according to the Center for Effective Discipline.

"The district he would attend does allow an opt-out, but the children who opt out are still exposed," Tuttle said. "They may not be the ones being abused, but I imagine they hear the threats made to other children and the stories that spread after it happens to a classmate."

Rapides Parish schools logged 66 incidents of corporal punishment in 2013-14, according to federal data. Across Central Louisiana, the school districts with the highest number of incidents during the same year were Avoyelles with 145 and Vernon with 275.

Louisiana parents in favor cited corporal punishment as an effective form of classroom management and a way to teach proper social behavior. But many child and adolescent organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, have officially stated corporal punishment can cause long-term harm and that other practices, such as positive behavior intervention and supports and trauma-informed care, can better help students succeed both academically and behaviorally.

The use of corporal punishment in Louisiana

In 2013-14, about half of Rapides schools reported incidents of corporal punishment. At most, schools -- including Tioga Elementary, Poland Junior High and Mary Goff Elementary -- used it 9-10 times. Alexandria High School was the only high school with any logged incidents, and there were just two.

In Vernon, 14 schools used corporal punishment, according to 2013-14 data. Pickering High School logged 95 incidents, Pitkin High School had 37, and East Leesville Elementary, Hicks High, Hornbeck High and West Leesville Elementary each reported between 18 and 29.

All elementary schools in Avoyelles logged cases; Bunkie and Plaucheville elementary schools each reported more than 50.

Here are some of the three school district's corporal punishment guidelines:

-- Rapides allows "reasonable corporal punishment of unruly pupils" to be administered "on the buttocks only" with "extreme care, tact and caution."
-- Avoyelles Parish's policy permits corporal punishment for K-6 students, but not in grades 7-12. Only the principal or assistant principal may administer corporal punishment, and they must obtain parental consent beforehand.
-- Rapides and Vernon guidelines do not explicitly require parents be notified before corporal punishment is administered. Under Vernon Parish guidelines, "parents who do not want their child paddled must submit a written request asking the school not to paddle, so another form of discipline may be used."
-- Rapides and Vernon require a witness to be present at the time of discipline.
-- All three districts' policies dictate that students must be given an opportunity to explain their side of the story before being punished.

What parents are saying

Central Louisiana parents for and against corporal punishment said trust -- or lack of -- is a factor.

"I'm from a tiny town ... so my parents knew the principal and knew if I was getting paddled, I deserved it," Leesville resident Dani Mellendorf said. "I'm for it in smaller towns. Leesville is much too big and there's not really a relationship between principal and parent like there was at my hometown."

"I would have no problem letting select people at my son's school paddle his behind," said Ashley DeKeyzer, of Alexandria. "I think it would straighten him, and others, out if they knew there were real consequences to their actions. Unfortunately, our (private) school does not use this type of punishment."

When he was a child, Shreveport resident Brian Mitchell remembered seeing a paddle at his school. He also got "knuckle treatment" from his teacher, who used a Husky brand pencil on students who misbehaved.

"The fear of the paddle, which took on a legend of its own, kept many of us in line," Mitchell said. "It was an effective way to manage the class to put an end to some disruptive activity. To this I must add, the teachers at that school were superb, and the principal was an extremely kind-hearted man."

"I think, when it comes to children, you have to act within a very short time after the behavior was committed," said DeRidder mom Pamela Markway Sleezer. "Waiting hours later for the child to be at home (when) they've most likely already emotionally and mentally moved on from whatever offense they committed isn't going to have much effect on them. If it warrants it, I'm comfortable with the school carrying out a spanking as punishment."

Legislative attempts to eliminate or change the use of corporal punishment failed in 2009, 2011 and 2013.


Corpun file 26514 at

NBC logo (KPLC7 News), Lake Charles, Louisiana, 15 December 2016

Special report

Should corporal punishment be allowed in public schools?

By Eric Tyger, Anchor


A wooden paddle

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - For many of us, discipline in our formative years included a good swat on the behind, be it from the hand of a parent, a belt or a paddle. And that method of behavior-correction wasn't just a tool used in the home. It extended to schools. But that's something the Obama administration is asking to officially do away with. Last month, Secretary of Education, John King Jr., asked public school systems that still practice corporal punishment to prohibit it.

Ask many of our parents or grandparents about discipline in school growing up, and you'll likely hear tales of paddlings, a ruler-to-the-hand or other forms of physical punishment. Ask those same folks, and most will say it helped keep them in line, and it's what today's kids are lacking.

Thirty-one states have outlawed corporal punishment. Nineteen still permit it, including every state in the South. Following the Obama Administration's announcement, we posed the question on the KPLC Facebook page asking your thoughts. Reaction was mixed but mostly in favor of it.

"Yes. Without any reservation," one person wrote. "We got the paddle if we misbehaved and then got another one when we got home."

Others disagreed.

"Absolutely not! I would never consent to anyone paddling my child at school," another stated.

"I didn't know it was legal. I didn't know people still did it. I didn't know it was still approved in schools. So, yeah, that's a shock to me," said Tonya Whitehouse, a mother of two boys who attend J.I. Watson Elementary School in Iowa. A nurse in Lake Charles, she said her perspective on physical punishment changed because of abuse cases she's seen on the job.

"Before, I was ok with other people spanking my kids -- my mom, my dad, aunts, uncles, whoever you know," she said. "If they were bad, then by all means, you discipline them. But, since working there and seeing these cases, it really makes you think in a completely different way."

Corporal punishment is generally defined as the use of a paddle, typically on the buttocks, as a method of discipline. Schools that receive federal funding are required to track and report the number of times corporal punishment is used to the U.S. Department of Education. The most recent data available is from 2013 and can be viewed online. In Southwest Louisiana, the numbers from that year break down as follows: 105 cases in Allen Parish, 85 in Beauregard, two in Calcasieu, zero in Cameron, 29 in Jeff Davis, and 293 in Vernon.

The policy in Calcasieu Parish states "teachers and principals are authorized to use reasonable corporal punishment to maintain discipline." The policy was revised and implemented in 2010, but Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus said that in March of 2014 former superintendent Wayne Savoy issued a directive prohibiting corporal punishment, one that Bruchhaus continues to employ.

"It's such a subjective and emotional issue," he said. "Every parent who has thought about using any type of corporal punishment on their own child usually does that when they're very angry. We don't want to create an environment in our school system where we have adults doing those sorts of things when they're angry."

Calcasieu Parish school employees are required to sign a decree indicating they will not use corporal punishment.

"I don't want them to be subjected to the negativity associated with possibly using bad judgment and be accused of paddling a lot harder than they should have since it's so subjective," said Bruchhaus.

Beauregard Parish Schools Superintendent Tim Cooley said the number of times corporal punishment has been used in his schools has decreased since 2013. Cooley told KPLC 28 students were subjected to it in 2014-2015 and 34 in 2015-2016. He said in some cases, students actually prefer corporal punishment over a detention or suspension.

"As per our discipline policy, corporal punishment may be substituted by the principal for one day of ISS (in-school suspension) or one-day bus suspension or two days detention. This constitutes the idea of students' choice preferring corporal punishment in place of ISS or detention," Cooley said.

When asked about his personal views on the practice:

"It can be an alternative form of punishment which allows for immediate consequences and returns the student back to the normal routine quicker. It is not a form of punishment that fits all students, which is the reason parents may opt their child out of corporal punishment."

"Obtaining parental permission prior to administering paddling is not necessary; however, parents who do not want their child paddled may submit a written request asking the school not to paddle, so another form of discipline may be used," said Hub Jordan, Director of Child Welfare and Attendance in Vernon Parish, which uses corporal punishment far more than any other Southwest Louisiana parish.

Superintendents in Allen and Jeff Davis Parishes did not respond to requests for interviews.

Dr. Richard Fossey is a professor of education at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and has thoroughly researched corporal punishment in Louisiana. According to him, 17 parishes have abolished it. Most of them are clustered in the southeast part of the state.

"It's clear that corporal punishment has been abolished in the urban areas all over the south," Fossey said. "There's no corporal punishment in the cities with one exception, and that's Shreveport. But if you go to Texas, those big urban areas -- Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, they've all abolished corporal punishment, and it's out in the rural areas and small towns, and that's true everywhere. It's a small town and rural phenomenon."


We also contacted several local state lawmakers seeking their positions on the issue. When reached by phone, State Representative Mark Abraham of Lake Charles said he wouldn't feel comfortable commenting until he was able to examine the data and research further.

Senator Eric LaFleur, whose district covers Allen Parish, said it should be up to the parents, quote "whether a child shall be subjected to corporal punishment. It's the individual right of parents to make this decision. If they want to delegate this authority, I am OK with it."


Copyright 2016 KPLC. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 26509 at


Houston Chronicle, Texas, 20 December 2016, p.A3

Education secretary renews debate over corporal punishment

By Shelby Webb


Press cutting

Robert Bird still remembers the paddle that was used to whack him after he skipped lunch detention at Liberty High School and mouthed off to a school official.

Its handle was wrapped with white boxing tape. It made for a better grip.

"It helped," Bird, now a 17-year-old senior, said of the punishment. "I haven't gotten the paddle or in any type of trouble since freshman year."

Texas is one of 15 states where corporal punishment, which generally involves school administrators striking students' bottoms with wooden paddles, is explicitly legal.

But if outgoing U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr. has his way, the practice would be a relic of the past. On Nov. 22, King wrote a letter to education leaders across the country and called on districts and states to abolish the practice.

It's unclear how much weight King's recommendation will have, as the Obama administration appointee steps down Jan. 20.

Officials in several school districts that allow corporal punishment say they will continue to use it judiciously as long as the state or their local school board authorizes it as a disciplinary tool. State Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, filed a bill to end corporal punishment in Texas, but such efforts have failed in the past.

The Texas Education Agency has no policy on the form of punishment that's permitted, and any changes to corporal punishment's legality would have to come from the state Legislature.

Illegal in 28 states


In addition to the 15 states that allow corporal punishment, another seven do not expressly ban the practice. It's illegal in 28 states.

While the use of corporal punishment has declined sharply, more than 109,000 students were physically punished during the 2013/14 school year, according to an analysis of federal civil rights data by the Education Week Research Center.

More than 300 of those students were in the Houston area.

Among the Houston area school districts that used corporal punishment as recently as 2013 were Magnolia, Barbers Hill, Dayton, Liberty, Cleveland, Anahuac, Hempstead, Royal and Hitchcock ISDs. Some of those districts, including Dayton ISD, have since abandoned the practice. Magnolia ISD, which educates about 12,500 students, relies less on physical punishment. In 2013, 18 students in the district were subject to corporal punishment, but in 2015-16 only five were.

Barbers Hill ISD, which is located just east of Baytown, paddled 52 students in 2013.

"Barbers Hill ISD's policy has allowed corporal punishment since its inception as a district in 1929. Our community honors a parent's right to choose what disciplinary methods best work for their child, and any parent may opt out of corporal punishment," said Superintendent Greg Poole.


Press cutting

Nowhere has corporal punishment been used more than in tiny Liberty ISD, about halfway between Houston and Beaumont on U.S. 90. Though only about 2,100 students attend schools there, 140 were physically punished in 2013. That's nearly half of all students who were physically disciplined in the Houston area that year.

'Rare intervention'

Superintendent Cody Abshier wrote in an email that corporal punishment is one of "a broad array" of tools the district uses to handle misbehavior. He said it's used only with permission of the parents and in the presence of a witness.

"While corporal punishment is a rare intervention for students in the LISD, it remains within the Trustee-approved techniques to address disciplinary incidents," Abshier wrote.

Haylee Ford, a senior at Liberty High, said about half of her male friends have been paddled. But each had been given a choice: a few days of in-school suspension or spanking via wooden paddle.

"Sometimes I don't think it works," she said of paddling. "But they got to choose, so that makes it fair."


Corpun file 26513 at

Fox News logo (WBRC Fox6 News), Birmingham, Alabama, 21 December 2016

Jefferson County School System says corporal punishment is effective

By Melanie Posey

Wooden paddle

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - An Attalla assistant principal is out on bond as he faces a child abuse charge following a paddling of one of his students.

Officials say the incident that led to Nathan Ayers being charged happened back in September.

Investigators say it left a child with excessive injuries.

As the debate over corporal punishment continues, one superintendent says it's still effective in his school system.

In Jefferson County, parents have the option to opt out if they do not want their children subject to corporal punishment.

Superintendent Craig Pouncey says it is something that is used in the system, mainly at the elementary school level.

Previously, any teacher or administrator could use corporal punishment at their discretion. However, in recent years, as the threat of litigation connected to this policy has increased, the board has revised it and now only a principal or their designee can paddle a student.

It must be done out of the sight of other students and there must be a witness present.

Pouncey doesn't know how many times corporal punishment is administered, but says he feels a lot more parents give their consent for it than some may think.

"It's more also involving the trust of the administration at the school. And fortunately, we've got some good principals," says Pouncey.

"They've been in place for a number of years. Parents recognize their fairness and their genuine concern for students. And I think people, once they understand that, they're a little more open to alternative means of discipline," said Pouncey.

Years ago, Pouncey was an elementary school teacher and assistant principal. He paddled students while in those positions. Pouncey says it was important for him to always use discretion and fairness in those situations.

He also feels that when school officials are charged with a crime for paddling students, more vetting needs to be done.

Pouncey says he's seen too many cases where careers are jeopardized because this vetting did not take place.

Corporal punishment in school is banned in 31 states. Alabama is not one of them.

Alabama is among 15 states that expressly permit corporal punishment in addition to seven other states that don't take a stand either way.

Alabama paddled more than 33,000 students last year; That's 4.5 percent of the student population.

The only state that paddles more is Mississippi.

Just this month, the National PTA, Children's Defense Fund and American Academy of Pediatrics called for an end to corporal punishment in schools.

Copyright 2016 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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