Secretary King sent a letter to governors and Chief State School Officers urging them to end the use of corporal punishment in schools, a practice linked to harmful short-term and long-term outcomes for students. “Our schools are bound by a sacred trust to safeguard the well-being, safety, and extraordinary potential of the children and youth within the communities they serve,” he said. “While some may argue corporal punishment is a tradition in some school communities, society has evolved, and past practice alone is no justification. No school can be considered safe or supportive if its students are fearful of being physically punished. We strongly urge states to eliminate the use of corporal punishment in schools -- a practice that educators, civil rights advocates, medical professionals, and researchers agree is harmful to students and which the data shows us…disproportionally impacts students of color and students with disabilities” (audio recording of press call).
Corporal punishment has been banned in 28 states and the District of Columbia and abandoned by individual districts in many others. Nevertheless, more than 110,000 students across the country were subjected to corporal punishment during the 2013-14 school year, according to the latest version of the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). (This map shows where the use of corporal punishment occurs nationwide.) What is more alarming is that the CRDC shows corporal punishment is used overwhelmingly on male students and more commonly administered to African-American students and students with disabilities of all genders.