EDUCATION

In some US schools, resistance to ending corporal punishment

  • In this July 22, 2016 photo, Kaley Zacher poses for a portrait with her mother Kimberly, in Dublin, Ga. Zacher, gave permission for Kaley to be paddled twice at Southwest Laurents Elementary School, Ga. Although the use of corporal punishment in American schools has declined in recent decades, paddling is still on the books in 19 states, despite calls from the U.S. Education Department to curb punitive disciplinary measures, which has been shown to affect minority and disabled students disproportionately.
 (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

    In this July 22, 2016 photo, Kaley Zacher poses for a portrait with her mother Kimberly, in Dublin, Ga. Zacher, gave permission for Kaley to be paddled twice at Southwest Laurents Elementary School, Ga. Although the use of corporal punishment in American schools has declined in recent decades, paddling is still on the books in 19 states, despite calls from the U.S. Education Department to curb punitive disciplinary measures, which has been shown to affect minority and disabled students disproportionately. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this July 22, 2016 photo, Kaley Zacher poses for a portrait in Dublin, Ga. Kaley's mother Kimberly Zacher gave permission for Kaley to be paddled twice at Southwest Laurents Elementary School. Although the use of corporal punishment in American schools has declined in recent decades, paddling is still on the books in 19 states, despite calls from the U.S. Education Department to curb punitive disciplinary measures which has been shown to affect minority and disabled students disproportionately. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

    In this July 22, 2016 photo, Kaley Zacher poses for a portrait in Dublin, Ga. Kaley's mother Kimberly Zacher gave permission for Kaley to be paddled twice at Southwest Laurents Elementary School. Although the use of corporal punishment in American schools has declined in recent decades, paddling is still on the books in 19 states, despite calls from the U.S. Education Department to curb punitive disciplinary measures which has been shown to affect minority and disabled students disproportionately. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)  (The Associated Press)

The message from the U.S. Education Department to schools has been to work toward positive school climates and less punitive approaches to school discipline.

While much of the focus has been on reducing suspensions, another punishment is regularly debated — corporal punishment. It remains legal in 19 states despite calls from the Education Department to curb punitive discipline, which it says tends to affect minority and disabled students disproportionately.

In corners of the country where paddling remains deeply woven in culture and tradition, some school administrators say parents support it and it takes less time away from learning than a suspension.

Opponents call it ineffective and potentially harmful.

While the number of paddlings has been falling, government statistics show more than 100,000 students are still subjected to corporal punishment annually.