NC one of 19 states that still allow paddling in schools

Posted September 15, 2014

— North Carolina is one of 19 states that still allow paddling in schools. There's no law against it, but the debate and the divide centers around whether or not it's effective.

Like many parents, Daisy Howarth didn't know corporal punishment still existed in some North Carolina schools.

“It’s so archaic, isn’t it?” she said. “It’s something they’d done in the 50s, and I thought we’d move beyond that.”

North Carolina law allows local school boards to determine whether corporal punishment will be permitted. The law stipulates that a child cannot be paddled in a classroom in front of other students, and the punishment must be carried out by a teacher, assistant principal or principal with a witness present.

While the decision on paddling is left up to school boards in each district, the state board of education signed a resolution last year opposing the punishment.

In rural Robeson County, paddling is allowed in six elementary schools. School board member Dwayne Smith says complaints are rare.

“First of all, you use it to let a child know what he's done is wrong, and if they do it again, they'll get the same thing,” Smith said. “If it's used the right way, it can be effective.”

Parents can opt out. A form is sent home at the beginning of each school year, but Smith says few parents exercise that option.

Tom Vitaglione, a senior fellow with advocacy group NC Child, has been lobbying school boards for decades to ban the practice. He contends studies show corporal punishment leads to more aggressive children and does nothing when it comes to education.

“There's been no evidence this makes a difference in terms of behavior or academic improvement,” he said. “In North Carolina, the end-of-year grades and graduation rates have been going up for the last decade. At the same time, use of corporal punishment dropped dramatically.”

The use of paddling in North Carolina schools has declined by as much as 50 percent in recent years, according to the state Department of Public Instruction. During the 2011-12 school year, more than 400 children were spanked in school. In 2012-13, that number went down to 203 students.

Fourth-graders were the most likely to be paddled, according to the 2012-13 statistics, and six children were spanked because of cellphone use.

Karen Smith, a parent and former teacher, says educators should not be able to spank students.

“I think that type of punishment, if it’s ever going to be done, should be done by parents, not teachers,” she said. 

States that allow corporal punishment in schools

Nineteen states (in red) have laws permitting corporal punishment in schools, according to The Center for Effective Discipline.


Corporal punishment in NC schools: 2012-13

Source: N.C. Department of Public Instruction

please wait
please wait
please wait
please wait
please wait

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Matt Price Sep 17, 2014
    user avatar

    I will say this again:

    There are those who believe that paddling a kid is child abuse. There will be those who believe that paddling a kid is fine.

    Society has gotten so sanitized that even telling a kid he did wrong is the same as child abuse.

    The first thing that is needed is standards be put into place, and when they cross the line, the parents and the youth understand, that your going to get it.

  • Doug Pawlak Sep 16, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Umm, because it's in the NC Constitution? Perhaps because our leaders in the past realized that everybody needed to be educated? Maybe because there's not a single successful nation in the world without a public school sytem?

  • John Phillips Sep 16, 2014
    user avatar

    Does this apply to the (admittedly small minority of) silly administrators who take a home-packed lunch away from a kid, or suspend a kid because his pop tart looked like a gun after several bites, or send a kid home because his shirt might offend a non-american, or force common core on the kids then wonder why parents don't get more involved with their kid's homework, or ....? I could paddle some of them, although it probably wouldn't do any good. (To any law enforcement officer, that is not a threat, just an opinion)

  • Matt Price Sep 16, 2014
    user avatar

    Looks like the administration needs to be spanked, as with the parents, and their kids.

    I have seen many of young uns who have had the rod spared and they have been spoiled. Sad to day, the decline in society is going to be complete. The Democrats think it is when a Republican gets into office, but really it is when the spoiled rotten kids are on the government dime because they are taught no morals, work ethic, or standards.

  • Kenneth Gordon Hart Sep 16, 2014
    user avatar

    All I can say is that nobody had better lay a hand or a paddle on my kid at school. He has had some truly terrible teachers who were actually genuinely horrible human beings, both in Raleigh's most expensive private school and in the public school system. Those people lacked the judgement skills and self control to appropriately administer physical punishment to anybody. This is one law that needs to be eliminated from NC immediately. What it teaches the child is that when an adult in authority is frustrated and angry, it is OK to hit somebody, especially if it is a person younger, smaller, and weaker than they are. Great life lesson - NOT. My mother was an "old-school" teacher for 30 years and somehow managed to never paddle any student.

  • nonPC Sep 16, 2014

    View quoted thread

    So why should I be forced to pay for your option?

  • Travis Upchurch Sep 16, 2014
    user avatar

    If you send your child to school and he or she cant sit and learn quietly either keep them home or expect them to come home with some hot spots on there behind!! enough expecting A teacher to teach to kids that dont want to learn and wants to keep everybody else form learning!! Bring back the good old days!!! if your kids are to good for a paddling KEEP THEM HOME!!!

  • Jason Conaway Sep 16, 2014
    user avatar

    They allow it, but no one still does it. They need to do more of it!

  • ospreysilver Sep 16, 2014

    NC has a total population of around 9 Million people and only 1.2% of these are Indian/Native, but apparently the NC School System is beating/paddling Indian kids at an astronomical rate. How is it legal to paddle/beat 128 Indian kids when they are smallest minority group in the state? There are only 3-4 counties that even have Indians. There are over 6Million white people, but only 51 of their kids were hit! I'm not saying its a racist policy because most of the Indian school districts have native teachers, but this level of difference focused on a single and very small minority population looks very abusive.

  • WolfPack00 Sep 16, 2014

    I was paddled in the 9th grade in Wake County in 1977.