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School Discipline

Some Paddling Statistics

The statistics were collected for the Office of Civil Rights of
the U.S. Department of Education. They were collected every two
years, as similar ones still are. They were part of a survey
originally intended to monitor various school activities and special
needs from the point of view of racial discrimination, under Title
VI, but in the mid-1970s this was extended under Title IX to cover
sexual discrimination. Accordingly, from 1978 onwards school
disciplinary practices and so on were recorded separately for boys
and girls. There is no secret about the results — they are public
knowledge, available in various major libraries.

The figures published are worked out for individual school
districts, then for each state, then for the nation as a whole.
There are of course an enormous number of school districts in the
U.S.A., so that even though (for example) over 6000 school districts
were surveyed in 1978 and over 3000 in 1982, this was really just a
very large sampling. However, in the southern states, where there
is or was most c.p., there tended to be special concerns about
possible racial discrimination, so most school districts there were

The disciplinary measures — suspension and corporal punishment —
are each recorded for a school district as a whole, not for
individual schools. The schools are listed (public schools, that
is), but only for race/gender breakdown in enrollment.

Nobody would imagine that the c.p. figures, as reported by each
school, then added up and passed on by district superintendents, are
true totals of what actually went on. It is very unlikely that they
recorded the c.p. given in the lowest grades, or given by coaches in
and around the gym, and so on. Many principals and some
superintendents obviously didn’t (and don’t) believe that it is any
outsider’s goddam business how they keep order in their own schools.
But the overall picture is believable. The differences in the c.p.
rates from one state to another, and the gradual change over the
years, do ring true. If they are thought of as referring only to the
c.p. that principals would know about, as underestimates in general
and gross underestimates for some individual school districts, then
they are likely to be factual.

The c.p. figures are supposed to record the actual number of
students paddled in a year, regardless of how often, but some
principals and superintendents seem always to have been unclear about
this and to have reported the number of paddlings instead. There is
no way of knowing if they did so.

I’ll quote first the figures for the states which used most c.p.
in the school year 1977-8 (collected 1978). I’ll give the number of
students in the state recorded as having “received corporal
punishment administered by a principal or his/her designee as a
formal disciplinary measure”, then what percentage that is of the
public school enrollment in the state, then the male/female breakdown
of the “received corporal punishment” number (as percentages). For
example, in Mississippi 53,388 students were recorded as being
paddled out of an enrollment of 487,473, which gives just under 11%.
Of the 53,388 paddled, 40,628 were boys (76%) and 12,760 were girls

1. Florida 185,144 students got c.p. out of 1,513,285 enrolled,
which > 12.2% divided M 77% / F 23%

2. Arkansas 52,182 out of 442,294 > 11.8% divd. M 78% / F 22%

3. Mississippi 53,388 ” ” 487,473 > 10.95% ” M 76% / F 24%

4. Georgia 101,980 ” ” 1,067,669 > 9.6% ” M 79% / F 21%

5. Tennessee 81,747 ” ” 863,530 > 9.5% ” M 78% / F 22%

6. Oklahoma 50,272 ” ” 539,639 > 9.3% ” M 79% / F 21%

7. Texas 253,343 ” ” 2,808,985 > 9.0% ” M 82% / F 18%

8. Alabama 58,651 ” ” 761,928 > 7.7% ” M 81% / F 19%

9= Kentucky 40,999 ” ” 686,357 > 6.0% ” M 80% / F 20%

9= Sth Carolina 38,446 ” ” 638,574 > 6.0% ” M 80% / F 20%

11. New Mexico 15,929 ” ” 273,568 > 5.8% ” M 78% / F 22%

12. Ohio 108,607 ” ” 2,063,951 > 5.3% ” M 84% / F 16%

13. Nth Carolina 60,489 ” ” 1,170,311 > 5.2% ” M 82% / F 18%

14= Indiana 53,045 ” ” 1,108,976 > 4.8% ” M 85% / F 15%

14= W Virginia 18,953 ” ” 397,620 > 4.8% ” M 82% / F 18%

16. Louisiana 38,705 ” ” 817,226 > 4.7% ” M 83% / F 17%

17. Missouri 33,615 ” ” 883,665 > 3.8% ” M 80% / F 20%


How likely was it, then, according to the figures, that a boy or
girl student would get paddled in the school year? For each of ten
states I’ll give the number of boys recorded as being paddled as a
proportion of the male public school enrollment, then the same for
the girls. For example, in Arkansas 40,492 boys were recorded as
being paddled out of 226,590 boys enrolled, i.e. 17.9%, and 11,690
girls were recorded as being paddled out of 215,704, or 5.4%.

Boys first, “top ten” states:

1. Florida 141,661 boys paddled out of 775,374 enrolled, > 18.2%

2. Arkansas 40,492 ” ” ” ” 226,590 ” > 17.9%

3. Mississippi 40,628 ” ” ” ” 249,626 ” > 16.3%

4. Georgia 80,877 ” ” ” ” 547,272 ” > 14.8%

5. Texas 207,625 ” ” ” ” 1,443,825 ” > 14.4%

6. Tennessee 63,526 ” ” ” ” 443,729 ” > 14.3%

7. Oklahoma 39,501 ” ” ” ” 277,760 ” > 14.2%

8. Alabama 47,352 ” ” ” ” 392,624 ” > 12.1%

9. Sth Carolina 30,927 ” ” ” ” 328,500 ” > 9.4%

10.Kentucky 32,906 ” ” ” ” 351,921 ” > 9.3%

And for girls, “top ten” states:

1. Florida 43,483 girls paddled out of 737,911 enrolled > 5.9%

2. Arkansas 11,690 ” ” ” ” 215,704 ” > 5.4%

3. Mississippi 12,760 ” ” ” ” 237,847 ” > 5.36%

4. Tennessee 18,221 ” ” ” ” 419,801 ” > 4.3%

5. Oklahoma 10,771 ” ” ” ” 261,879 ” > 4.1%

6. Georgia 21,103 ” ” ” ” 520,397 ” > 4.06%

7. Texas 45,718 ” ” ” ” 1,365,160 ” > 3.3%

8. Alabama 11,299 ” ” ” ” 369,304 ” > 3.1%

9= Kentucky 8,093 ” ” ” ” 334,436 ” > 2.4%

9= Sth Carolina 7,519 ” ” ” ” 310,074 ” > 2.4%


All this, to repeat, is for the 1977-8 school year. It shows
Florida as the heaviest-paddling state per head. As regards girls in
particular, Florida is made out to be almost twice as ready to use
the paddle as, say, Texas or Alabama. It may be that principals and
superintendents in FL were unusually honest in reporting the facts,
but it is hard to see why, considering the hostility to c.p. that
must have been already building up in the state. And in general it
is very hard to imagine why anyone, anywhere, would report to the
Office of Civil Rights paddlings that had not occurred.

The figures for individual school districts in Florida are
available, and naturally they show big differences between one
district and another. Dade County, the largest and the most
Hispanic, records very little c.p., as you can well believe. Some
small school districts elsewhere in the state compensate with quite
drastic figures.


I think you touched upon the fact that the smaller districts used far more CP than the large dist. did.The smaller dist. are generally located in the rural areas and the parents were usually farmers and blue collar workers who go to church every Sunday and believe in the old spare the rod mentality. They would be far more accepting of CP in the schools than city dwellers would be.

Another point you touched upon was the fact that the stats do not include use of CP by teachers in the classroom, which usually would be only two or three swats whereas the Principal always gave four to six swats or more.If the CP use by teachers and coaches was included, the numbers would be quadrupled or higher. I think most teachers would want to handle as much discipline as possible in the classroom so as not to look incapable of maintaining order in their own class. And almost any student would prefer a couple of swats from the teacher to a trip to the Principal. I think in the larger schools and school dist. only the Principal would be authorized to use CP.

I’ve seen some other stats. on corpun relating to schools that give high school students a choice between swats and detention. It shows that the older the students get the more likely they are to choose CP over detention.The surprising thing is that girls in their junior and senior years chose swats over 50% of the time.That was just in Texas. I don’t recall any figures for other states.


During Summer of 1999 I taught in a summer school program run by Miami-Dade school district for 6th-9th grade — though some of the kids were up to 16 years old.

The kids came came from several schools in the poorest and most crime-ridden (High-risk) parts of the Miami area. I’m not sure if the students had to have been extra troubled to get into this program but a few of them (almost 95% black btw) had quite serious issues and reputations for violence — none of them had been in Juve. but many of them knew of other kids who were. There was one boy in particular who scared everyone — the other kids as well as all the teachers — he had a mean, threatening way of looking at you. This was my first teaching experience in the US and I was easily scared. The girls were much less threatening — their biggest issue was sex — many would come to school wearing the trashiest outfits possible — The female teachers were told to offer these girls “fashion advice” regarding more modest dressing and getting boys and to keep a look out in the bathrooms for vomiting — signs of pregnancy or eating disorders. Amongst both boys and girls there were a some who had psychological issues — like depression or who showed manic, obsessive behaviors.

So regarding discipline — there was no punishment except for expulsion of the program. The two directors (they were authority figures) had an “I’m tough and will not hesitate to bust your ass — but I love you act” were respected. The teachers were just seen as people to help the students learn — possbile mentor — not authority exactly. Even though there were many “perks” in this program like computer classes, swimming, and other activities only available on the posh University of Miami campus, there was never any withholding of those activities privileges for misbehavior. In the case of classroom discipline – if an issue with a student came up — there were special counselors — who would be immediately called to talk with the student who would be immediately moved out of the class.
Some of the students had a regular counselor/case worker that they met with everyday regardless.
In general the kids were pretty good during class — once two girls got in a fight in my class — but there never were serious incidents — just a general feeling of depression prevailed amongst students and teachers. I’ve haven’t taught in the US since.

This was a bit of an extra-special program — but I never even knew that the state of Florida officially sanctioned CP!! — Miami-Dade county standards being significantly different than districts more North or it is an understatement. Jeb Bush can just eat his heart out.


aro; Did these classes take place on the University campus? If so,they would never allow CP to be used on their campus.It seems like I have read recently about protests in the Miami-Dade Co. area over the use of CP in the public schools and there may be something on the corpun site about that.

The schools in my area seem to have councelors for students of all ages. This is something that did not exist when I was in school. There were councilors in High School but not for younger kids.Teaching seems to have changed a lot since I was there.My son has separate teachers for math and reading and a third teacher for everything else and he’s only in 1st grade.
This method must work very well for him, because he is at the top of his class.


the program was held on the U Miami campus that year and the following — but not before or after — they rotated sites. U Miami’s policies notwithstanding (this is a real word? — I’ve never spelled it out before) I can’t imagine any of the teachers considering CP — those kids might have had friends take us out in a drive-by — I exaggerate slightly — but I’m sure CP would have brought the devil out of most of them — or cowed them completely. The director — who was a real principal during the regular term did seem like someone who might have wielded a flaming paddle — but it was obvious that no one feared that option — he was great with the kids. When the teachers were briefed — it was never said “contrary to the regular school year because we’re on U Miami’s campus there’s no CP. CP was never mentioned — if it was an option druing the school year– I never heard anything about it — I did hear about how we couldn’t send anyone to detention in the summer prog. as opposed to during the local school year.

I’ll have to look up the Miami-Dade stuff on Corpun. Perhaps at less high-risk area schools — maybe in Liberty City:)

At U. Miami the music department required some students to participate in 6 hours of straight-tone chorale rehearsal a week — this was corporal punishment — especially since the conductor behaved like a German Dictator humiliating singers whenever he could and he had a TA stand at the door and write up latecomers.


APB News, New York, 3 March 1999
Teacher charged with child abuse
Allegedly Beat First-Graders With 21-Inch Paint Stick
By Valerie Kalfrin

MIAMI ( — A first-grade teacher faces federal child abuse charges tonight for allegedly using “Mr. Stick” — a 21-inch stick used to stir paint — to discipline her students, authorities said.

Assistant state attorneys Don Ungurait and Mindy Paurowski told they are still evaluating the evidence against Mariefrance Milhomme and will make a decision to file formal charges against her by March 22.

“Corporal punishment is not per se illegal in schools; it’s a violation of school policy. At issue here is the circumstances under which she struck the children,” Ungurait said, adding that the woman faces a maximum of 30 years in prison if convicted of all counts.

Milhomme, a 29-year-old Pembroke Pines resident who school officials said taught at Henry E.S. Reeves Elementary School for two years, was arrested Monday on six counts of “child abuse resulting in no great harm” after an anonymous call to the school prompted an investigation, authorities said.

Caught on hidden camera
The Miami-Dade County Public Schools Police Department, which handles allegations against employees, eventually placed a security camera in Milhomme’s classroom closet, Lt. Dorene Baker said.

According to the arrest affidavit, Milhomme “directed a student to a closet inside her classroom,” where the camera recorded her closing the door and beating the student with a 21-inch, heavy-duty paint stirrer with “Mr. Stick” written on it.

Milhomme spent Monday morning in Turner Guilford Knight jail and was released on $30,000 bond that afternoon, Baker said.

She has been assigned to the school district’s regional administrative office pending the outcome of the investigation, said Dr. Henry C. Fraind, deputy superintendent of the 350,000-student school district.

None of the children was seriously injured, the affidavit said, but the beatings “could reasonably be expected to result in the physical or mental injury to the children.” The document also said the students interviewed “consistently described the beatings” and told investigators they cried.

‘The lady knew better’
“County guidelines clearly state that a teacher cannot use corporal punishment to discipline a child,” Fraind said. “We have a preponderance of evidence that the teacher did it. … The lady knew better.”

Fraind said a number of parents have been supportive of the teacher, a sentiment echoed by Edward Tobin, Milhomme’s Miami attorney, in published reports.

“I know she is well-liked by all of the parents, and she does a great job,” he was quoted as saying. “She’s a hard worker, and she will be exonerated.” was unable to reach the attorney for additional comment this afternoon. A woman answering the phone at Milhomme’s house said the teacher was not home.

Valerie Kalfrin is an staff writer

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