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Seriously? It’s Legal in 19 States for Kids to be Spanked in School

By Meredith Carroll |


How would you feel if your child was spanked at school?

I’ve written before about spanking. I’ve never spanked (or hit or beat or whipped or pinched or smacked or slapped) one of my children and I never would. I think if you hit a kid in anger, the kid in turn learns to hit in anger.

I don’t think it’s right and I do think it sends a terrible message. But I knew kids growing up whose parents spanked them, or even hit them with belts when they were in trouble. At the same time, unless a child is being beaten — and in my mind there is a clear distinction between a spanking and a beating, and who is administering it — what goes on behind another family’s closed doors is none of my business.

What happens in a public school, however, is a whole other story. I don’t hit my kids, so you can bet your bottom dollar that I wouldn’t stand for anyone else hitting my kids — and the distinction in my mind between a beating and a spanking vanishes when someone who is not the child’s parent metes it out.

Which is why my eyes nearly involuntarily popped out of their sockets when I read about a story NPR did (via Jezebel) about how it’s still legal in 19 states for kids to be spanked in school.

Nineteen states still allow kids to be spanked. That doesn’t mean they all do it. But in Northern Florida, nearly all of the counties actually permit it.

Offenses that result in spanking range from things like talking back or tardiness. And kids from kindergarten through high school are all eligible for a beating. One school “mostly use[s] wooden or fiberglass paddles . . . [or] something that looks like a little canoe paddle . . . [that] they have their woodshop students make.”

One parent told NPR, “I got my butt beat and I know what’s right and wrong. And my children are going to know what’s right and wrong. …I think the problem with society is we quit paddling.”

Of course — and thankfully — not everyone is for kids being beaten by teachers, and one state representative in Florida proposed a bill that would have banned the practice statewide. Unfortunately, it failed.

There will always be parents on both sides of the corporal punishment debate. Always. Some swear by it. Others are horrified by the idea. But how any parent is OK with their child being beaten in school is beyond me.

How would you feel if your kid was beaten in school by a teacher?

Photo credit: iStock

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About Meredith Carroll


Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

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11 thoughts on “Seriously? It’s Legal in 19 States for Kids to be Spanked in School

  1. Rosana says:

    NO!!! I don’t spank my kids and I would not accept or allowed anybody else to do it either.

  2. Paige says:

    I live in and teach in a state in which you can technically still spank. I’m going to bet that in no school will anyone spank your child even if they “can”. Too much would go terribly wrong for the school district.

  3. bob says:

    I spent some time as a child in a southern state where corporal punishment was practiced, though never on me personally. The most interesting thing I think I can tell you about it is this: The system is designed by and for people who are accustomed to being beaten. Kids who come from civilized families are at a disadvantage when it comes to living under a physical threat.

  4. Alison says:

    @Paige – apparently Florida had 3,300 spanking incidents last year according to NPR. So it isn’t so isolated an event.

    I’d be absolutely enraged if someone spanked my kid without my permission.

  5. Sara says:

    There’s an article I read today about a woman suing the school because her child was spanked (and welts were left on her child’s rear) without her consent. It’s not clear by Florida law that she will win.

    I’ve always noticed that the students that I’ve had whom were the worst behaved had parents who threatened to beat them when I was talking to their parents. I’ve always believed that kids who are spanked are more likely to be out of control than parents who use other discipline methods (parents who don’t do a thing and just let their kids go nuts of course have badly behaved kids also)

  6. anon says:

    Originally from Newsweek: Did Corporal Punishment Save a Struggling School?

  7. Jessica Clayton says:

    Okay so I have 3 daughters and when they act up yes I spank them. I do not beat them there is a fine line in beating and spanking. Now just because I spank my kids doesnt give anyone else permission to spank my kids. I would have to go down to the school and beat anyone who spanked my kids. Thats ridiculous!

  8. Momma says:

    I was spanked by my parents, and when I went to Greek school (daily language after regular school), the school sent home a permission slip asking permission to “punish” the students if necessary. I got my knuckles & palms slapped with rulers for doing assignments wrong, needless to say, I became a very conscientious student very quickly.

  9. G says:

    First, I love the way you distinguished the difference between a spanking and a beating and then purposely used the word beating in reference to school spankings. That sets you apart from everyone who is irrational. Secondly, they can’t just spank your kids without your permission. You have to give them written permission. I personally don’t want ANYONE laying a hand on my child other than me. But I also believe other parents have the right to decide on their own whether or not someone else can spank their kids. And for you to write a half-truth one sided argument just to get parents excited over nothing is irresponsible and proves what a poor writer you are. True argumentative writers present both sides of an argument. That’s first year college English.

  10. Kirstie gilliland says:

    Even though i do not agree with spanking a child I will admit that yes is have swatted my daughters butt a couple of times. But I will NEVER allow anyone eles to ever raise a hand at my child. My sisters believe in spanking their children and that’s fine for them but I think that kids learn more when you put them in time out and then discuss what the issue is instead of spanking and closing the door on it all.

  11. krista says:

    well which states are they?

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