While corporal punishment is largely a relic of a bygone area in most of the western education world — a disciplinary measure missed by some on both sides of the Atlantic — it continues in some Florida schools.
Florida is one of 19 states that still allow public schools to paddle, according to the Center for Effective Discipline. The most recent numbers show 3,661 students were spanked in 2010, the Florida Department of Education reports.
The Florida Department of Education does not keep data on instances of corporal punishment in the state’s private schools.
Most school districts in Florida have opted out of using corporal punishment. But 29 counties have policies allowing schools to paddle students. Many are in rural North Florida.
Democrat Rep Ari Porth didn’t think it was fair that where students were located determined whether they got spanked or not and sought to ban corporal punishment outright statewide. His sponsored bill HB 493 failed. While that’s fine with some parents, other people think the practice is degrading.
Schools are the only public institution where hitting is still allowed; it’s no longer permissible in prisons hospitals or the military. The usual arguments about the effectiveness of corporal punishment, or lack thereof, are repeated with the anti-camp drawing attention studies showing that it doesn’t work as a deterrent and the proponents of corporal punishment pointing the widely acknowledge decline in youth discipline since its phasing out and that it actively keeps students in school by being an alternative to suspension.
Senior Cole Long has never made a paddle, but he has been on the receiving end of one. He says he has been paddled for things like, “throwing papers, throwing pencils, a couple times for cussing, back-talking.
“I used to be a really wild child,” he said.
Long thinks all schools should paddle students because, he says, the spankings teach students discipline and respect.
There are no statewide regulations on the paddles and each school district designs their own, usually out of wood or fiberglass. Most schools still using paddles seek parental permission, although it is not required.