If the idea of corporal punishment in schools sounds like something out of a Dickens’ novel, brace yourself for a real Oliver twist: The Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection found that over 110,000 students were paddled, swatted, or physically punished in U.S. classrooms between 2013 and 2014, and identified 22 states where corporal punishment was permitted (or at least not prohibited). That’s why the current Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. sent a 3-page letter to governors and state school officers asking them to knock it off once and for all.
The letter cites a growing body of research that suggests this form of discipline can make kids more aggressive, violent, and impact their ability to learn. Also, it just doesn’t work. According to data from the Department of Education, corporal punishment is as racist and sexist as it is ineffective. More than one-third of students subjected to physical punishment in the 2013 – 2014 school years were African-American, despite the fact that these students only make up 16 percent of the total public school population. Boys comprised a whopping 80 percent of corporal punishment cases, and students with disabilities were disproportionately targeted as well.
For parents who grew up with physical discipline and turned out just fine, it’s understandable that they might worry about that The Man making your kid soft. But if you don’t want the government telling your local school district how to run things, you may not be a huge fan of your school disciplining your kid either — because that’s your job. No matter where you stand on this, one thing is for sure: Your gig is going to last a lot longer than King’s.