Education Week, in a special report on corporal punishment, notes that it persists in a declining minority of the states — 21. But, as ever, they include Arkansas, which, along with other Southern states, is a leader in physically punishing children.
The punishment is applied in disparate ways. It is used more often in schools with poor children. Black children are disproportionately likely to be paddled. (In Arkansas, where 17 percent of students are black, 32 percent of those paddled are black.) It’s more prevalent in rural schools. All the conventional public school districts in Pulaski County, for example, bar corporal punishment. There are variations in how it is used. Some have standards. Some don’t.
In Arkansas, 41 percent of students are in schools that allow paddling. That trails only Alabama, with 43 percent, and Mississippi, with 55 percent.
“We do see corporal punishment as just one piece of the school-to-prison pipeline and the disproportionate disciplining of students of color,” said Rhonda Brownstein, the legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Us of the paddle is declining nationally from 300,000 instances in 2000 to 109,000 in 2013-4, the most recent statistics available.