This "academic" essay, written in tendentious sociological jargon and published in the "Advancing Women in Leadership Journal", attacks CP from a hardline feminist and "children's rights" ideological perspective. There is a lot about "hegemonic masculinity", wherein even Desmond Morris's ancient pseudo-anthropological fantasies about the "bent-over submissive posture" and CP as a "form of ritual copulation" are trotted out once more.
Few readers of either sex will, I suspect, be inclined to take any of this stuff seriously, but the document does include a plausible vignette of a day at a southern elementary school, including eyewitness accounts of paddlings of a girl and a boy.
The paper is mistaken, incidentally, in stating that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child "calls for a worldwide ban on corporal punishment". The Convention does nothing of the sort. The words "corporal punishment" do not appear anywhere in it, and nor does it contain any references to paddling, spanking, or any similar wording. What it does call for is the protection of children from "mental and physical violence". When countries signed up to the Convention (which, in any case, the USA has not done), they cannot reasonably have supposed that it prohibited ordinary, moderate spanking or paddling which causes no injury.
Another error is the assertion that "every industrialized nation in the world, except the U.S., has abolished corporal punishment in schools". Singapore is certainly an industrialized country, to name but one where school CP is entirely legal and in widespread use.
Note also that some Texas high schools' athletic policies strongly discourage, or in a few cases even downright forbid, parents from opting their student athletes out of CP, in order not to encroach on playing and training time by requiring attendance at ISS or detention. One district (Newton ISD) goes so far as to write in its Athletic Handbook, "If student or parent/guardian does not agree with any of the above disciplinary actions, students should not be involved in athletics". Another (Mineola ISD), pointing out that "Athletes are required to be administered corporal punishment as needed", writes: "if the Campus Principal gives an athlete the option of swats instead of another form of punishment, the athlete MUST take the swats, or the Athletic Director reserves the right to administer swats along with the punishment the campus principal assigned".
We are, therefore, saying very loudly that corporal punishment in schools should be abolished without any undue delay, for, it serves no useful purpose whatsoever. However, we are not saying that young scholars should not be punished if they go against school rules and regulations. They should know that there is an authority which makes sure that there is social order, whether at school, at home or elsewhere.
There were junior, intermediate and senior Approved Schools. The maximum age at the latter was 19, but even at this age the residents -- perhaps in order to emphasise that they were not in prison -- still counted as schoolboys and schoolgirls. This produced the odd state of affairs whereby a youth of 18, in some cases still in short-trousers uniform, could find himself bent across his headmaster's desk for up to 8 strokes of the senior cane, when probably all his friends back home would, in those days, have left school and been in employment (and long trousers), free from all corporal punishment, for three or four long years already. (The ordinary school leaving age was raised to 15 in 1947, and to 16 only in 1972).
"recommends that corporal punishment in schools be abolished in all states by law and that alternative forms of student behavior management be used."
Modus operandi. Corporal punishment in US schools is almost invariably applied with a wooden paddle across the student's clothed posterior, after removing anything found in the back pockets. Paddles come in many shapes and sizes -- see . Very occasionally nowadays the implement may be of a composite plastic material, such as perspex (Plexiglass) or polycarbonate (Lexan), sometimes wrongly described as "fiberglass". For an early instance of this, see about a Texas school district adopting Plexiglass paddles for its elementary schools but wooden ones (maple) at secondary level. Oak and ash also seem to be popular woods for paddles, which are often made in a school's own shop class.
After World War II, partly as a political sop to those who were opposing the abolition of judicial birching in 1948, yet another type of institution for errant teenagers was set up, the Detention Centre, designed to administer a "short sharp shock" with much drilling, physical jerks, military-style discipline, and cold showers before dawn. It was to be more or less what in America would be called a boot camp. Surprisingly enough, corporal punishment was explicitly forbidden at these places from the outset. They were soon found not to be very good at deterring re-offending, unlike the more homely and holistic Approved School regime, which produced many success stories, according to former staff. It may of course be pure coincidence, but it is quite interesting that the kind of institution where a boy was well looked after, treated with respect and provided with constructive activity, but got his backside soundly thrashed when necessary, seems broadly to have worked, at least in some cases, while the kind modelled on negativity and mindless routine, but with no official CP, proved by general consent to be a failure.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals "believes that the practice of corporal punishment in schools should be abolished and that principals should utilize alternative forms of discipline."
Age restrictions. In general, statistics show that the most typical recipients of corporal punishment in the USA are boys aged 13 through 17 -- much as in pretty well all other cultures since the dawn of time. But in the great majority of American school districts, there are no age limits: the recipient may be any age from 4 through 19. Twelfth-graders, who might have been driving automobiles for three or four years, or having legal sex for two years, can be and are spanked in some high schools. In certain places, such as (which does not use CP at the elementary level at all), it has been reported that most of the district's paddlings take place in grades 9 through 12. Some anecdotal accounts suggest that these students, especially if male, can expect to be paddled a lot harder, stroke for stroke, than younger recipients: "It does hurt pretty bad," says an Alvarado twelfth-grader in about visiting the office to opt for three "pops" in lieu of suspension.
Racial disparities. Opponents often claim that corporal punishment is racially discriminatory because statistics show that black students are more likely to be paddled than white ones, to the population as a whole. In fact, though, the same applies to suspensions and other kinds of punishment, so while there may be a "racial problem" in school discipline overall, it is not specifically a "corporal punishment problem". discusses this point, with particular reference to Mississippi, where about 50% of all public school students are black, but black students account for 64% of those officially spanked. The article notes that many black people strongly support CP, and some view it as a valued part of their cultural heritage.