Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.
These are the remaining states where corporal punishment is still legal in schools. On April 7, New Mexico courageously removed itself from the list.
Despite empirical evidence that corporal punishment negatively impacts academic success and causes long-term psychological and social harm, there is no federal ban on the horizon and inmates in juvenile detention centers actually enjoy greater protections from physical punishment than students in public schools.
Perhaps most alarming is the fact that students of color and students with disabilities such as autism are disproportionately subjected to corporal punishment. Distressingly, a child with autism or Tourette’s syndrome is most often physically punished for exhibiting symptoms of their disorder. Abuse of children on the autism spectrum tends to include more other forms of abuse as well, like dragging, pinching, slapping and improper restraint. Obviously, the legal rights of these individuals are being systematically denied and their conditions are worsening instead of improving.
Corporal punishment pits parents against schools, as parents objecting to their child being paddled or otherwise harmed have no recourse but to withdraw them. Drop out rates have been demonstrated to spike among paddled populations, as has aggressive behavior in children with autism who have suffered physical harm in the school setting.
During Autism Awareness Month, let’s redouble our efforts to shed light on the dark truths of our educational system and compel those nineteen remaining states to join the 21st century.