WASHINGTON (AP) _ Paddlings, swats, licks. A quarter of a million schoolchildren got them last year — and Blacks, American Indians and kids with disabilities got a disproportionate share of the punishment, according to a study by a human rights group.
Even little kids can be paddled. Heather Porter, who lives in Crockett, Texas, was startled to hear her little boy, then 3, say he'd been spanked at school. Porter was never told, despite a policy at the public preschool that parents be notified.
For the study, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union used Education Department data to show that, while paddling has been declining, racial disparity persists. Researchers also interviewed students, parents and school personnel in Texas and Mississippi, states that account for 40 percent of the 223,190 kids who were paddled at least once in the 2006-2007 school year.
There is scant research on whether paddling is effective in the classroom. But many studies have shown it doesn't work at home, said Elizabeth Gershoff, a University of Michigan teacher.
"The use of corporal punishment is associated almost overwhelmingly with negative effects, and that it increases children's problem behavior over time," Gershoff said.
Children may learn to solve problems using aggression, and a sense of resentment might make them act out more, Gershoff said.