The recent video that shows a 5-year-old child being paddled in Georgia has many wondering whether or not it can happen to their child. The answer unfortunately is yes, depending on the state in which you live. There are at least 19 states that still allow the use of corporal punishment for infractions that occur at school, sometimes without a parent’s permission.
These schools are predominantly located in the South, southwest and Midwest sections of the country and it’s up to school administrators when it’s OK to spank a child. This arises out of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 19777 that determined a child is not protected under the 8th Amendment of the Constitution that pertains to cruel and unusual punishment. In that case, a student was struck 20 times and required medical attention after the punishment was administered by the school principal. The Supreme Court upheld the use of corporal punishment in that case known as Ingrnaham v. Wright.
Not surprisingly when it comes to violence perpetrated on school children by officials, Black children are the ones who receive a disproportionate amount of abuse. The National Center for Education statistics shows that although Black children comprise less than 20 percent of students enrolled at public schools they make up 35 percent of those who are physically disciplined. The statistics further show that that Black children are physically disciplined at a rate that is three times greater than White students by school administrators.The state with the largest percentage of Black students physically disciplined is Mississippi. In that state, Black students are at close to 50 percent of the student body but comprise 64 percent of those who receive corporal punishment.
States that still allow corporal punishment include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. In the recent discussions of school bullying and safe spaces for gay students, there is no talk for safe spaces for children who are abused at home only to also be abused by adults in school. Where can these students escape the cycle of violence that seems to haunt their lives?