Georgia schools paddled nearly 6,000 students last year. Why?

This screen grab came from a video of two Jasper County educators paddling a 5-year-old. Posted online by the child’s mother, the video created a national furor and has now been viewed by nearly 6 million people.

Retired nurse Terry Baradine is a longtime opponent of corporal punishment in Georgia schools. (So am I.) After requesting the latest statistics for paddlings in Georgia schools last year, Baradine was horrified and wrote a piece calling for an end to corporal punishment. You can read her column below.

You can view the new state Department of Education data here in this Google doc. You will note that not every Georgia district is listed as some, including metro area ones, prohibit corporal punishment. Nineteen states permit corporal punishment, almost all in the southern United States.

According to the state data, as reported by districts:

• 5,849 students were disciplined in school using corporal punishment.

• The total number of incidents of corporal punishment was 9,713 ( Some kids were paddled more than once.)

• Looking only at students with disabilities, corporal punishment was inflicted on 991 students.

• The total number of incidents of corporal punishment among children with disabilities was 1,760.

Among those nearly 6,000 children paddled was a 5-year-old from Jasper County. His mother recorded the April incident on her smartphone, posted it on Facebook and sparked a national furor. The video was seen more than a million times with many viewers questioning the character of Georgia schools.

Despite the disturbing video, Jasper County reported a low incidence of paddling in 2015-2016, 38 students and 61 total incidents. In light of how infrequently paddling appears to be used and the damage to its reputation from the viral video, Jasper ought to ban it.

Paddling is much more common in other districts, according to the DOE data. Laurens County reported paddling 585 students, which means 10 percent of Georgia students subjected to corporal punishment attend this 6,700-student district. I can’t imagine any district would want that distinction.

The DOE data also show: Coffee County Schools paddled 304 students; Tattnall reported paddling 230 kids; Appling reported 234; Randolph reported 197 and Wilcox 191.

Research is clear: Paddling is ineffective and opens schools to lawsuits. (Check out what the American Psychological Association and what the American Academy of Pediatrics say.) There are far more effective forms of discipline.

By Terry Baradine

In 1992, my husband and I relocated from Connecticut and settled in Georgia for a new job opportunity. I found it was a great place to raise our children.

But I was shocked and dismayed to find out corporal punishment was allowed and used in Georgia schools. It has long been outlawed in Connecticut and many other states. Still, in 2016, corporal punishment is alive and well in Georgia schools.

I recently did an open records request from the Georgia Department of Education to investigate the numbers. In the 2015-2016 school year, I found nearly 1000 students with disabilities were physically punished. And this is only the data that’s reported. Private schools do not have to report their data to the state.

Many districts say corporal punishment is only used with “parent permission.” Those districts have it all wrong. Schools are supposed to be using evidence-based practices.  Schools are supposed to be the shining example of a nurturing learning environment. They are supposed to lead with best practices, not follow worst instincts. How is it possible to set an example for best practices when you still paddle students?

School systems need to stop embarrassing their communities, the education profession and the great state of Georgia. Decades of research indicates physical punishment has no place in 21st century schools.

I believe an immediate moratorium is needed to force schools to stop hitting students in our education systems. The DOE and the governor should issue such a moratorium today, not next week, not next year. Our state lawmakers must address this issue and introduce a bill to ban this outdated practice.

I urge everyone to look at the data, because the reported numbers speak the truth. We must do better.

Reader Comments 0

176 comments
blwpyrtv
blwpyrtv

Some arguments to consider:

1. School paddling is inconsistent with Title IX, because it inherently impacts boys and girls unequally. Unlike boys, girls who have entered puberty would have to reveal intimate personal information in order to avoid the chance of this punishment being unfairly compounded by menstrual discomfort or of being a risk factor where there is the possibility of pregnancy or other female-specific vulnerabilities. Either the school callously and/or recklessly does not address such concerns when paddling girls — concerns which many students may be too embarrassed or intimidated to volunteer — or it intrusively does inquire about them. There are at least two known incidents where paddling had medical consequences due to a student being female, one in Dunn, N.C. from 1981 (ref: "Don't Inflict My Pain on Others," by Shelly S. Gaspersohn, USA Today, Oct. 23, 1984) and another in Scioto County, Ohio from 1997 (ref: "Some Ohio schools not sparing the rod – Corporal punishment allowed in districts," The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), Sept. 24, 2000).


 With children of any age, moreover, discomfort following a paddling is apt to be greater for girls, due to pressure on the inflamed and/or contused area of their bodies resulting from their normal mode of urination or, alternatively, to muscular discomfort if they awkwardly avoid this pressure. This disparity was illustrated in the case of an 8-year-old in Florida who had to use her hands to support herself astride a toilet in order to urinate without aggravating the lingering pain she was experiencing (ref: State v. Paul E. King, Florida Supreme Court Case No. SC05-258).

2. The general immunity to litigation — if not also criminal prosecution — which some state laws — e.g. Texas — and the courts have given teachers and principals when it comes to paddling effectively and unconstitutionally denies students and parents the remedies that were essential to the Supreme Court's decision in 1977 upholding school corporal punishment.

3. The balance of available redress in the case of an injurious or otherwise unjust paddling is further weakened by the modern day prospect of unwanted, widespread prurient attention to victims via corporal punishment-themed adult websites, which may inhibit parents from seeking redress for their unjustly paddled child for fear of the publicity such complaints could generate.

4. The legitimacy of male principals spanking female students is at odds with prevailing sexual harassment codes, which bar male employers from spanking female employees — including minors.

5. The spanking paddle itself was originally invented not for use on schoolchildren, but rather as a tool for beating slaves. The idea was to have something that would inflict terrible pain without causing the kind of permanent tissue damage that could lower a slave's market value. While the corporal punishment of slaves has most often been portrayed as using a whip, it was also fairly common practice by the mid 1800s — at least in certain states — to use a paddle instead. This will not be news to anyone who has studied American slavery in depth or seen the 1975 movie "Mandingo." Although nobody would suggest that students today are paddled with the same degree of severity that slaves were, it is important to recognize that extreme severity is what this instrument was designed for. It is virtually unheard of, moreover, for school personnel to receive any professional training in how to paddle students, to be required beforehand to demonstrate competence at doing it safely and judiciously, to have their paddles inspected and held to any standards of size, weight, composition or craftsmanship, and least of all to have the velocity of their swing measured. Thus, we can reasonably expect that paddlers will often times hit harder than they intend to or, in some cases, hit parts of the body they don't intend to.

6. The spanking of kids at school could be videotaped without anyone's knowledge, which is a lot easier with the tiny cameras they make nowadays. If someone were to circulate that video on the Internet, it could be really humiliating for the student. Not to mention that there's a black market for images of children being spanked. The FBI broke up a nationwide child-spanking pornography ring in 2002, incredible as that may sound, and at least two of its members worked in public schools. [See also Principal Tim Mizelle, Willow Hill Elementary, Portal GA, 1994; ref: http://www.victorepstein.com/Education/SMN4PTPedoMothersComplaint1994.pdf]

7. Despite dire warnings that school discipline would deteriorate if paddling went away, Memphis has seen a reduction of discipline problems, since enacting its ban. At the national level, one finds that dropout rates, violent crime and other social problems are most concentrated among states and localities where paddling is still allowed. School shootings have occurred most often in states that allow paddling — and paddling may have even been a catalyst for the one in Jonesboro, Arkansas. It is worth noting, moreover, that among the top 100 U.S. schools ranked by Newsweek in 2003, not a single one is a paddling school.

8. The many groups supporting a ban on corporal punishment include The National Association of School Boards, The American Academy of Pediatrics and The National Association of School Nurses.



Wascatlady
Wascatlady

My question would be why is paddling or something similarly severe NEEDED in Georgia schools?  Schools do not WANT parents to send unruly children to school to inflict their damage on their classmates.  Our problem here in Georgia is we have too many parents who are PINOs.  Parents in name only.  Parents with no sense of shame when their child acts the fool, or hurts someone, or shows blatant disrespect to the teacher.

JRichard
JRichard

Lack of good discipline at home and in school in my opinion is key contributor to teenage/young adult crime including assault, shootings, theft and vandalism.  If children have no consequences for repeated destructive, disrespectful, bullying, cheating and similar conduct, they frequently grow to other horrifying conduct.  Humans must know there are severe and painful consequences to their actions ... look at prisons, a slap on the wrist then three meals a day, room, health care, recreation, education all at tax payer expense.  No wonder so many return!!!


Mary Ann Gardner
Mary Ann Gardner

I would never give a school permission to hit my child - disciplined yes - hitting no

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

Probably because they NEEDED it.....DUH.  Just take a look at what has happened to our country since it became illegal to punish your children by whipping/paddling/switching them.  There is no discipline in some of our schools and kids/teenagers/young adults and getting in more and more serious troubles.  Of course, LBJ started it all off when he told all young girls in America "it's alright to have a baby.....your government will pay for it and you and when the next one comes, we'll take tare of that baby too.  We literally have babies raising babies with NO man around.  LBJ's "great society" was nothing more that a VOTE BUYING SCAM on a grand scale with the tax paying citizens of America picking up the tab. That, along with political correctness has brought America to where it is today.....one of the most (if not the most) corrupt nation in the world with leaders???????who lie, cheat and anything else to get elected so they may carry on with the slaughter and the crumbling of our society.  


TRUMP 2016  Let's Make America Great Again

quaterhorselady
quaterhorselady

@An American Patriot Violence against children is regressive and should be prohibited. Period.  Hittling children is counter productive.  YOU can go back to being fooled ALL of the time by Faux "news".


Kim Rippere
Kim Rippere

Just no. Hitting children does nothing positive and is criminal behavior that should be prosecuted.

Jarrit Lee
Jarrit Lee

Dinosaurs!!!! I'll paddle my own kids. Thanks but no thanks...

Noemead Semloh
Noemead Semloh

By the way, the kids I grew up with who are the most dysfunctional in their 30s and 40s as adults, are the same ones who got regular spankings as children. This notion that spankings are some sort of disciplinary cure all, is absurd.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Might they have gotten regular spankings been the one with behaviors that were already going to land them in disfunction?  Chicken or egg?

Dogwood32
Dogwood32

@Wascatlady Even if that was the case, then obviously the regular spankings were not effective.

Brian Willis
Brian Willis

Is that all, no wonder little Sally and little Johnny are turning into millennial seeking quiet spots emotionally weak Americans.

Vernell Campbell
Vernell Campbell

This needs to be on the ballot in November. This needs to stop ASAP

Regina Harris
Regina Harris

The schools can paddle my children, but they're taught to call DFACS or the police of it do it!!! I don't agree with this this at all!!!!

Steven Guzman
Steven Guzman

I think all schools should use corporal punishment.

Tammy Brookover Jay
Tammy Brookover Jay

Maybe they should have paddled a few more. I know they surely missed a deserving child somewhere out there!

Yesenia Carrillo
Yesenia Carrillo

We're making schools totally responsible for raising children. I'm not in agreement.

Crystal Green
Crystal Green

Schools wouldn't have to do this if parents disciplined their kids.

Lynn Sharpe
Lynn Sharpe

Didn't hurt me. We knew that there were consiquinces for our actions ! Got one at school , got another one when we got home. Wasn't no disrespectful crap like there is now! Direction goes s long way. Teach the children .

Parker Evans
Parker Evans

It did hurt you, you believe hitting children is justified

quaterhorselady
quaterhorselady

It sure didn't help your spelling any.  consequences


Noemead Semloh
Noemead Semloh

I will never strike my child. And my children have never been in big trouble. If you have lost control of your children in such a way that the only effective tool you have is to strike them, then the problem is the parent, not the child.

Noemead Semloh
Noemead Semloh

Ok..... The "Rod" Crystal Green, you are referring to is a SHEPHERS ROD of correction. It was a tool to steer sheep into a herd and away from danger. It was NEVER to be used as a disciplinary tool to beat children with. And yes, every psychological study I've read in recent years has outright suggested that spankings produce SERIOUS changes in children, their brain chemistry, and their psychology. People like to talk about what we survived and make it normal for their children. But last I checked we have a 73% single parent household rate so CLEARLY we aren't doing it right.

Crystal Green
Crystal Green

Not true. Every child is different. Even the bible says to spare the rod, you will spoil the child. Just because it is what some parents choose doesn't mean it is wrong.

Parker Evans
Parker Evans

Corporal discipline leads to negative outcomes far more than positive outcomes.

gmacm
gmacm

If it wasn't for the gov. rewarding single mothers with welfare if they stayed single there would be a lot less trouble with todays youth.


Matt Jenkins
Matt Jenkins

Unless you're ready to go deal with someone else's kids, then keep quiet about corporal punishment. One unruly child can ruin the other 20+ students education. If they know consequences are down the hall, they'll behave

Lana Beth Rodgers
Lana Beth Rodgers

Never "hurt" anyone that I know of, when I was growing up! Parents should be doing it too!

Thomas Phillip Shore
Thomas Phillip Shore

You're right about that Lana Beth Rogers except for one thing, parents should be the main ones doing it!

Kevin Kitchen
Kevin Kitchen

I got whupped in school. A few times. It was better than whuppins at home with the extension cord though.

Lynn Coffey
Lynn Coffey

Schools should just expel disruptive kids sparing the rod has created the give me selfish no accountability generation

Lindsey Bowers
Lindsey Bowers

I was paddled in elementary school, more than once (because I'm a rebel like that). But that was the mid-80s. It was humiliating. But not enough to keep me from getting in trouble again. Eventually I outsmarted the system by reaching second grade, where the teachers just didn't have the energy to fight me anymore. In hindsight, it's probably just the year they outlawed paddling in our district. But my version is way cooler. Moral of the story, I was and am still a rebel. Ain't no paddle gonna keep me down! It's a waste of time. I don't know why they even bother, still. Haven't they learned anything?

Kevin Kitchen
Kevin Kitchen

You need to turn off "Rebel Rebel" and turn on "The Authority Song".

Kathy Brown
Kathy Brown

In Georgia there are 95 county school districts that are accountable for making AYP, and reported usingcorporal punishment. Of the 95 school districts, only 18 districts, or 18.9% made adequate levels of progress (AYP) on high stake achievement tests, graduation rates, and/or attendance rates in the spring of 09. Whereas, out of the 62 county school districts held accountable for making AYP, BUT did not utilize corporal punishment show that 22 or 35.5% of the districts achieved adequate levels of proficiency on high stakes achievement tests, graduation rates, and/or attendance rates toward making AYP in the spring of 2009.  

In Georgia there are 25 city school districts that are accountable for making AYP and only five reported numbers for corporal punishment. Out of the five city districts that hit students only one or 20% made adequate levels of proficiency on high stakes tests, graduation rates, and/or attendance rates. Whereas, 15 out of the 20 city school districts that did not use corporal punishment made adequate levels of proficiency on high stakes tests, graduation rates, and/or attendance rates toward AYP in the Spring of 2009.  

On June 2, 2009 Ms. Terry Berradine submitted an open records request and paid $31 for GDOE to provide her with the most current report on corporal punishment. Ms. Berradine forwarded the information to House members who sit on the education committee. Thus, the documentation for this study concerning total corporal punishment incidents for all public school districts in Georgia was released by Patricia L. Mills, Senior Policy Analyst, Legal Services for Georgia Department of Education for the 2007-08 school year (FY08). 

Conclusion: Utilizing corporal punishment in Georgia public county and city schools is the status quo and likely to result in lower levels of academic achievement on high stakes tests, lower graduation rates, and/or lower rates for school attendance. As a quasi researcher, primary stakeholder, taxpayer, USAF veteran, and Georgia constituent I am asking each of you to please consider the relationship between spanking and academic achievement in the education process. I would also challenge you to consider why tax payers are paying for services regarding the collection and documentation of data, but the data is not being analyzed or used to increase the odds of academic progress toward making AYP. The data provided by the GDOE shows a correlation between the higher numbers of school districts that utilize corporal punishmnt and the higher numbers of entire school districts failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress. Therefore, I would challenge all of you to scrutinize the data and the reports for yourself. I can only ask that each of you to look at corporal punishment through today’s objective global lenses, and then I can pray that each of you will do what is right for Georgia. 

Gilletta Stevenson
Gilletta Stevenson

I will NEVER give school officials permission to physically discipline my son. It's crazy that this is even an option.

CSpinks
CSpinks

Too bad my maternal grandmother is no longer around to provide an irrefutable answer to this question.

Bobbi Fortner
Bobbi Fortner

99 % of the time the kids that got paddled needed it. If they had more at home and I am not talking about beating a child but a good paddling they wouldn't need it at school.

Finley Lynn Jennifer
Finley Lynn Jennifer

You sign a corpral punishment document or did these parents just signed papers without reading so what is the bigger problem

Amanda Butler
Amanda Butler

they don't work? really? They worked pretty well when we were kids. I got a grand total of 1 paddling in school, and you best better believe I didn't give them any reason to give me another one.

Mo Granger
Mo Granger

But what about the many repeat offenders?

gmacm
gmacm

They either end up in and out of jail or dead.