Public schools in 21 states still hit kids, and black students are disproportionately affected

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Video of School Spanking Re-Ignites Debate Over Corporal Punishment

Although corporal punishment is on the decline throughout the country, more than 109,000 students across 21 states were physically disciplined in the 2013–2014 school year, a new Education Week report has found.

Hitting, spanking, paddling, or other forms of corporal punishment also disproportionately affected African-American students, who comprise 38% of those who were physically disciplined, despite making up just 22% of all students who attend schools that allow the practice.

White students, meanwhile, make up 50% of those physically disciplined, but comprise 60% of students enrolled.

States where corporal punishment is still allowed in public schools

23 PHOTOS
22 states where corporal punishment is legal in public schools
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22 states where corporal punishment is legal in public schools
Arizona has laws that permit corporal punishment.
Wyoming has laws that permit corporal punishment.
Texas has laws that permit corporal punishment.
Oklahoma has laws that permit corporal punishment.
Missouri has laws that permit corporal punishment.
Arkansas has laws that permit corporal punishment.
Louisiana has laws that permit corporal punishment.
Mississippi has laws that permit corporal punishment.
Tennessee has laws that permit corporal punishment.
Kentucky has laws that permit corporal punishment.
Alabama has laws that permit corporal punishment.
North Carolina has laws that permit corporal punishment.
South Carolina has laws that permit corporal punishment.
Georgia has laws that permit corporal punishment.
Florida has laws that permit corporal punishment.
Idaho has no reference to corporal punishment in state laws. 
South Dakota has no reference to corporal punishment in state laws. 
Colorado has no reference to corporal punishment in state laws. 
Kansas has no reference to corporal punishment in state laws. 
Indiana has no reference to corporal punishment in state laws. 
Maine has no reference to corporal punishment in state laws. 
New Hampshire has no reference to corporal punishment in state laws. 
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The report also noted a distinct lack of policies and procedures that guide schools and staff on when, how, and how severely to physically punish kids.

While certain schools use stricter policies that specify the size of a paddle or the number of spanking strikes that can be used on students, no broad consensus has emerged among districts or states regarding how many times or how hard a child should be struck, or how staff should be trained to do so.

"I've been (using the paddle) a long time and I don't know that I've ever seen anyone offer training," Tennessee superintendent Daryl Scoggin told Education Week. "It's kind of like, I had it done to me, and so I knew what I needed to do. I guess it's more that you learn by watching."

Parental consent, too, varies between states, Education Week found. While some states, such as Utah, require parents' written permission for physical discipline, others, including Texas, allow the practice unless parents specifically opt out.

Using the most recent data available from the Civil Rights Data Collection, Education Week found that Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma were the states that used corporal punishment the most.

Education Week even found that some schools reported physically punishing students, even in states that barred the practice — although it's unclear whether those numbers were incorrectly reported.

The federal education department also has no policy prohibiting K-12 schools from using physical discipline — those laws are left to the states. But the government has been encouraging schools through its "ReThink Discipline" initiative to emphasize safety and support in their discipline practices, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

"The Department of Education strongly believes that states have the power to change," Deputy Assistant Secretary Tanya Clay House told AP. "We know that the use of corporal punishment tends to be intertwined with other factors, such as a child's race or disability status."

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