A new study has shown that just seven states in the Southern US make up 80% of in-school corporal punishment for the entire United States.
Data from the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Division was used by researcher Dick Startz, an economics professor at UC Santa Barbara, for the study.
While 31 states currently do not allow such corporal punishment within their public school systems, 19 states do, although not many of them appear to make use of it, according to study results. In all, 7 states were found to use corporal punishment the most: Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.
In Mississippi alone, there were 6 instances of corporal punishment for every 100 public school students in the 2011-12 school year, meaning on average, one out of every 17 students in the state are beaten by an educator each year.
The report, “Schools, black children, and corporal punishment,” defines corporal punishment as “paddling, spanking, or other forms of physical punishment imposed on a student.”
Startz added that the beatings are not given equally, and that black students were twice as likely to be the victim of such punishments. In all, there were 42,000 incidents of corporal punishment used on black boys reported and 15,000 reported incidents involving black girls.
This is due in part to the high number of black students who live in the states that use corporal punishment. However, it is also because black students are more likely to be identified for punishment by educators.
For example, white students in Mississippi receive corporal punishments at a rate of 4.7 beatings per 100 students, while the rate among black students reached 8.1 beatings per 100 students.
In all, seven states account for 90% of all corporal punishment of black children, including Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, and Louisiana.
“Black students are twice as likely to be struck as white students in North Carolina and Georgia, 70 percent more likely in Mississippi, 40 percent more likely in Louisiana, and 40 percent more likely in Arkansas,” Startz writes.
Colorado, Ohio, and California were all found to have rates of using corporal punishment on black children that were 70% higher than they were for white children.
This was not found to be true of all states, as Startz discovered Texas and Alabama are equally as likely to use such methods of punishment on black children as they are on their white peers.
According to previous research from 2012 conducted by the American Psychological Association, physical punishment of children such as hitting or spanking can result in increased aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injuries or mental health problems.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the United Nations agree that forms of corporal punishment do more harm than good for children and should be avoided.
“Every time a child is beaten in school and every time one is suspended and thus loses learning time, something or someone has failed that child along the way, regardless of the “reason” for the punishment,” writes Startz.