DALLAS (Reuters) – More than 200,000 children were hit as punishment in U.S. schools last year and in the South more blacks than whites are struck, two human rights groups said in a report released on Wednesday.
Texas accounted for a quarter of the instances of corporal punishment in the 2006-2007 school year, according to the study compiled by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The report, titled “A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in U.S. Public Schools,” plays into a debate in America about the effectiveness of corporal punishment and its role in the classroom and home.
Twenty-one U.S. states still permit the use of corporal punishment in schools. In Texas and Mississippi children as young as 3 are struck for transgressions as minor as gum chewing, the report says.
The punishment often involves hitting a child on the buttocks with a long wooden board, or paddle.
In 13 states in the U.S. South where corporal punishment is the most prevalent, African-American girls are twice as likely to be hit as their white counterparts, according to the 125-page report.
“African-American students are punished at 1.4 times the rate that would be expected given their numbers in the student population,” the groups said in a statement.
Citing U.S. Department of Education data, the report said 223,190 students nationwide received corporal punishment at least once in the 2006-2007 school year. This included 49,197 students in Texas, the largest number of any state.