Featured Guest Essay:

Why School Paddling Is Legal Child Abuse: First Person

Picture of Diana Hembree

Diana Hembree

Diana Hembree, MS, is MindSite News co-founding editor. She is a health and science journalist who served as a senior editor at Time Inc. Health and its physician’s magazine, Hippocrates, for four years, and as news editor at the Center for Investigative Reporting for more than 10 years.

I first became acquainted with school corporal punishment my first week at Fitzhugh Lee Elementary in Smyrna, Georgia. Out of nowhere, the principal charged into our classroom at a run and yanked a boy near me out of his seat, dangling him in the air with one arm while beating him viciously with a wooden paddle as we watched in horror. It seemed to go on for an eternity: the sounds of the blows, the man panting and seemingly crazed, the boy screaming and crying hysterically. I tried to shout “stop” but no words came out – something that led to a persistent feeling of shame that years later I’d recognize as survivor’s guilt. After the principal left, I turned around to give the boy a look of fervent sympathy. Tear-streaked and humiliated, he stuck his tongue out at me.
Diana Hembree

Did you know...?

Paddling in schools is still allowed in 19 states in the United States! (Missouri is one of them!)
Can you believe it??

  • More than 1,500 research studies have examined corporal punishment and almost all have found that, in addition to being ineffective as discipline, corporal punishment can result in many serious problems, including increased aggression, anxiety and other mental health issues, relationship difficulties with parents, violence, alcohol and drug abuse, even brain damage and health problems later in life.
  • This relationship between physical punishment and subsequent problems has been replicated many times, with thousands of parents and children, from many backgrounds, in many countries.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for an end to physical punishment.
  • But a majority of parents in the U.S. still believe spanking is necessary for discipline.
  • 65-80% of U.S. parents spank their children, 30% of parents will even spank a child under one year of age, and the single greatest cause of child abuse is parental use of physical punishment.
  • By 2022, an estimated 135 countries have prohibited corporal punishment in schools, including all of Europe, and most of South America and East Asia (but not the United States).
  • As of August of 2022, 63 countries around the world (but not the U.S.) have banned all physical punishment of children, in homes as well as schools.

Who are we?

The U.S. Alliance to End the Hitting of Children was founded in 2011 to bring together individuals and organizations who want to see an end to corporal punishment – an antiquated and dangerous form of disciplining a child. In 2018, the organization joined forces with the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection of the New York Foundling and the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. Collectively, we are working toward the goal of ending all hitting of children.

We envision a country where children are loved, valued, respected — and never hit.

We are committed to ending all hitting of children and youth in all places including schools and homes. If you agree with us, please JOIN US. You can become a lifetime Ambassador for Children for as little as USD $25. You do not need to rejoin the organization each year, though we will gladly accept new donations! We will keep you informed of our progress through quarterly newsletters.

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