Texas City Brings Back Paddling As Congresswoman Seeks National Ban

The citizens of Temple, Texas have reinstituted corporal punishment for students in the form of paddling for everything from skipping classes to wearing inappropriate clothing. In the meantime, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), has stated her intention to pass legislation banning the practice — a proposal that could raise some serious constitutional issues.

Texas is already the paddling leader nationwide — one-fourth of students who received paddling in 2006 were in the Lone Star state.

Various states still allow for paddling and in 2006 there were an estimated 225,000 students who received corporal punishment. However, thirty states outlaw paddling, which is strongly opposed by educational and child development experts.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) held a hearing this week on banning paddling. This could raise another federalism issue and highlights the implications of the broad claim of federal authority contained in the health care legisation, here.

While I have not seen the current version of the bill, it could raise many of the same problems that led to the Supreme Court striking down laws in Lucas and Morrison. United States v. Alfonso Lopez, Jr., , 514 U.S. 549 (1995), is particularly interesting in this context. There the Court struck down the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 (the “Act”), 18 U.S.C. § 922(q) as intruding into state power.

For the full story, click here.

41 thoughts on “Texas City Brings Back Paddling As Congresswoman Seeks National Ban”

  1. Mr. Wright,

    There’s much of what you say that I agree with–teachers being required to teach to the test instead of truly educating children, schools having to spend lots of valuable school time dealing with discipline problems and classroom disruptions, parents not spending enough time with their children.

    Still, I don’t believe in corporal punishment for children in public schools. The schools must meet and talk with the parents of children who are disrespectful and disruptive and frequently tardy. Schools won’t find a real solution to their discipline problems and tardiness issues if they don’t work directly with the parents of the children to address them. Schools need to get at the core of the problems–not just treat the symptoms.

  2. Steve,

    But you do support beating children, even if not as a first resort. And beating them teaches them that violence is the way to respond to behavior with which one is unhappy. Suspension, by contrast, teaches one that, if he disrupts a group’s activity, he may no longer (for a time) participate in it. That is a logical consequence. If someone disrupted a concert, a cocktail party, or whatever, he would be asked to leave.

  3. You have missed the point. I am not in support of anyone being disciplined with corporal punishment as a first resort. I have a successful construction business and I am for the use. Schools sometimes need this ability to instill order. In today’s society some schools spend more time dealing with disruption in the classroom. Education is paramount, taking away the ability to punish when appropriate, rather than having to call in the police to deal with the disruption in the classroom, this is why I support it. If parents were spending time with their children, would there be much need. No, it seems that some parents send the child to school to be raise by the teacher.

    If Congress takes away this ability, what next? We know, no child left behind is not working. The teachers have to teach the children how to take a test, not educate. What is the option that you would propose to deal with unruly children.

    Corporal punishment is not allowed in the specialized classes. These parents are more involved and they are called to either come pick the child up or the rest of the class is insulated from the unruly child.

    I hope you all do not think that I support beating children, just something to get there attention rather than suspend them for the same behavior.

  4. From the article:

    “We’re rural central Texas. We’re very well educated, but still there are those core values. Churches are full on Sundays,” Hancock said. “This is a tool we’d like in the toolbox for responding to discipline issues.”


    Gotta love them core values of highly religious folks who believe in beating on children when they don’t behave the way the adults think they should.

    Children learn by the examples adults set for them. Got a problem? Revert to violence! Just think what we’re teaching kids when we paddle them because they arrived at school late.

    Sure glad I taught in a state where children weren’t paddled on school property by educators. Shame on any educator who would do such a thing!


    Wouldn’t the schools have to get written permission from children’s parents before they could subject the children to corporal punishment?

  5. It would seem that an analysis of the source of the behavior would be the most socially developed path to take.

    One would not want to punish sickness, instead an astute social engineer would want to treat sickness with medication or therapy.

  6. Corporal punishment constitutes battery. The only defense in the law to battery is self-defense. This rule should apply even if the victim is a child.

  7. Texas is the US capitol of capital punishment. Is it any surprise they like to beat as much as to kill?

  8. Mespo:

    You are correct, of course.

    Earlier this year, I wrote about the mother who was arrested for spanking her child on an airplane:

    There is no difference if the assault is carried out by a random stranger, a school administrator, a member of the clergy, or a parent. The physical act alone is an offense, and there can be no adequate justification for it.

    That was wrong. It is worse to the child and society when perpetrated by government.

  9. Maaarrghk!,

    I love you like a brother (or sister) but on this subject I must disagree.

    Self image and dignity are very illusive concepts which we strive, as adults, to teach all our children. Corporal punishment in a public setting is counter productive to that effort.

    I could go on with many examples but I’m sure you know what I mean. Suffice it to say that if I were to smack any child for any reason, my own self-image would suffer greatly and I would find no dignity in the act.

  10. Amen to Mespo, Swarthmore. I never improved after getting hit. There is no place in society for hitting children for any reason. It is a sanctioned form of child abuse and I thought it was a dying form of abuse until our old friends in Texas are trying to bring it back.

  11. Hitting children is not the parent’s role either although some parents seem to think it is an appropriate form of discipline. They think it is sanctioned by the bible.

  12. puzzling:

    “It doesn’t matter if it’s effective or not. Inflicting physical brutality on children is not the role of government.”


    Likely, it is the role of no one.

  13. “Responsibly administered” beatings and brutality?

    If pain help humans to learn, shouldn’t judicial punishments include canings and electrocution?

    If it’s acceptable for the government to beat children for wearing so-called inappropriate clothing, what about 10 lashes for illegal parkers and 20 lashes for speeding tickets? 50 lashes for late tax payments, and 100 lashes per quarter while imprisoned for felonies?

    It doesn’t matter if it’s effective or not. Inflicting physical brutality on children is not the role of government.

  14. “… I was not surprised that there is not a single piece of research that proves in any way that responsibly administered corporal punishment does not work or that it harms kids in any way.”


    It would seem to me that when you are advocating unregulated (yet, “responsible”) beating of children by ill-trained, unsupervised, occasionally opposite gender government officials, the heavy burden rests upon you to show the overwhelming benefits of such barbarism. But then again, perhaps you subscribe to a more primitive form of discipline. Sharia law comes to mind. That seems to work, too – and it has the desired conservative benefit of forming an obsequious population.

  15. Corporal punishment does no harm? So bruises and welts are “doing no harm”? I have been hit many times by the Nuns in grade school and it hurt every time. I have had my head hit against a desk by a high school teacher and guess what, it hurt! There is no need for corporal punishment and the only thing that it accomplishes is fear in the child and anger in the child. The adult is also teaching the child that hitting someone else is an acceptable means of conduct. Why would anyone want to emulate anything that is done in Texas? We are in the 21st century…..at least some of us are.

  16. Let’s see how it works. I get the feeling that a lot of anti-smacking nutters are going to get an unpleasant surprise.

    Having recently read an article by one of the UK’s leading sociologists (Frank Furedi), I was not surprised that there is not a single piece of research that proves in any way that responsibly administered corporal punishment does not work or that it harms kids in any way.

    We have gone down the anti-smacking route here and it has not worked. Standards in our schools are going down across the board because Teachers are no longer allowed to control or punish unruly pupils.

  17. If a teacher tried to paddle me, I would take him upside the head with a baseball bat.

  18. As a person that received my fair share. I am not opposed to it, in some situations. I remember when I was in HS we had a smoking lounge. We had to have parents sign permission slips. We had designated time and space areas. I decided to slip out after Gym on to the area and got caught. I was given three options, by the coach that caught me, 1) Suspension, 2) Paddling, 3) Smoking permit pulled.

    Well geeze, I was cool and took the licks.

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