August 20th, 2008
05:56 PM ET

Erica's News Note: Rude Awakening

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

Nothing like some shock and awe to get the day going.

Before my coffee even finished brewing, I was jolted awake, courtesy of this tidbit: more than 200,000 children were spanked or paddled in US schools last year. That’s according to a joint report from Human Rights Watch and the ACLU.

My initial reaction? “You’ve got to be kidding me! Who would PADDLE a kid, especially in this day and age, and in a school?!” I think my lower lip hit my chin.

I can’t remember ever seeing a paddle in any of the schools I attended. I don’t recall ever seeing a classmate spanked, either. I do remember my Dad’s horror stories of the French teacher who would grind her spiked heel into the foot of her students, and the ruler slaps on “Little House,” but I thought that was all in the past.

Corporal punishment in schools isn’t legal where I grew up, but in 21 states, it is. Wow.

Here are a few more stories that made my mouse stop in its tracks:

Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Renee

    Erica: You are a great Mom! Your son is so lucky to have you! Unfortunately if you saw the poll at CNN.com many people still agree that spanking is okay. Now we all know the on-line polls are not real accurate because you can vote 10 times if you choose.

    I have to agree with Annie Kate. You have to get creative with the children. My children have had to suffer with various extra chores, no TV or TIVO and no video games. I would expect in the future to have to take away a drivers license and other age-appropriate things.

    I think the best thing is that the child must know who the leader(s) of the home are at all times. The responsibility for raising a child rests with the parents.

    Too often people forget that it is both an honor and a priviledge to be a parent.

    August 21, 2008 at 9:00 am |
  2. Kevin

    Hi Erica,
    Spare the rod and spoil the child; old fashioned you say but ask any teacher what their #1 problem is with students-discipline! No wonder our education system is on the rocks; we cannot get and keep good teachers when every day is such a challenge to them. I am in my late sixties but I remember when I was in school no one committed the same infraction twice. When kids have no fear of retribution they have to learn the hard way when the become adults and the we create another problem- prison over crowding.

    August 21, 2008 at 1:53 am |
  3. Julie

    Seems to me the people on this blog who are the most ardent proponents for paddling and corporal punishment are the people who do not have children.

    The people who have children are split between not ever spanking or "letting the punishment fit the crime". I grew up in a family where children definitely got spanked. However, being the youngest I probably got the least spankings. Not because I was such an angel, but because I at least resolved not to do whatever my siblings did to get a spanking!

    Now, I don't know if this is because I"m a girl or if its just part of my personality or what, but those "stern talking to's" were worse than any spanking I ever got. To feel like you hurt your parents in some way was just something I couldn't deal with – so I tried to avoid.

    I'm saying all this to say that schools don't need corporal punishment. They need to create safe, enriching environments where the children can trust the teachers and build a relationship with them. If the children are engaged and feel safe, the discipline probles will be drastically minimized.

    August 21, 2008 at 12:52 am |
  4. Jim ,

    Bill in Neb, I have not had them spit or cuss at me but I have seen parents who let their kids get away with this kind of behavior in public
    MANY TIMES over the years & it has been my experiance that these kids grow up to be the ones hitting, spitting, & cussing out Law enforcement officers When the KID is the one in the wrong & breaking the law.

    August 21, 2008 at 12:40 am |
  5. Jim ,

    Heather – I was hit with a belt in my 45 years I have never hit another person – I have never been in a fist fight- . The Garbage parents let their kids watch on T.V, does more harm than having the hand of disipline applied to the seat of knowlagde.

    August 21, 2008 at 12:32 am |
  6. Genevieve M, TX

    As children, my mother was spanked, but my father was not. I was not ever spanked and my brother was 2-3 times, once was for throwing a toy truck at me (just because he felt like it?!?)

    As for school, my parents always signed "no" on the "corporal punshment document". By contrast, most (except for one or two) parents checked "yes". All the schools I have ever attended had parents sign such a document. The schools I attended were in Taiwan (DoDDS), Arizona, Panama (DoDDS), and Texas- in that order.

    None of the schools were "hard core" on spanking and the teachers at the Arizona school had some interesting alternative punishments for breaking rules. One of the stranger ones was that if you got caught chewing gum (a big no, no)- you had to sit outside (on a chair) at recess with your gum on your nose and moo out loud for 5 minutes. LOL

    August 21, 2008 at 12:04 am |
  7. Jonathan


    Talk of shock and awe! How come there's nothing mentioned on this blog )or your website) about John McCain's endorsement of a new military draft? He was asked about it by an audience member today at a forum in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I just saw it on your show. Please redirect the conversation. This is important news.

    Albuquerque, New Mexico

    August 20, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  8. Jolene

    Never was spanked at school (always the perfect angel ;)) and don't believe spanking should be allowed in schools but knew plenty of kids who were paddled.

    Perhaps I was never spanked at school because I learned how to behave at home. Whenever my older brother was bad and my mother would threaten to spank him, he would say to her: "Go ahead, hit me right here" and point to his face which always made her stop. Kids know how to play the game.

    Personally, I don't care for violence within the home, at school, or anywhere for that matter. I don't believe it teaches you anything but what pain feels like.

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    August 20, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  9. tony

    I can remember back when I was in school the principal's way of disciple was with a paddle. Being that it was a small school when the principal used his paddle it echoed throughout the hallways of the school. This sound alone was enough to scare you and it definitely made you stop and think.

    I am not sure that paddling is the answer but the schools have got to have some way of disciplining the kids of our society. I have two nieces both of which are teachers. When asked what they are allowed to do as far as disciple the answer from both is pretty much the same, nothing. Not only that but when they do try an enforce some sort of discipline to their kids who are the first ones to yell foul. That's right those parents who never seem to have time for their children or simply just don't want to be bothered.

    I guess what I am saying is maybe we really need to step back and give these teachers a break. So if that means bringing back the paddle so be it.

    August 20, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  10. Steve - southern Illinois

    In the early 70s when I was in high school someone stoled $10 from and all male metals class I was in. We were taken into a back room one at a time with a male teacher and strip searched including a cavity search. I wonder if it's too late to sue. I am not kidding.

    August 20, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  11. Saera El Paso, TX

    i remember when i was in first grade there was a teacher down the hall from my class who used to rap kids' knuckles with a metal ruler. he got suspended, but later quit. then in third through fifth grade i had a choir teacher who used to say he wished they still allowed teachers to belt kids when they answered a question incorrectly. needles to say he was scary, but never actually laid a hand on a kid. as far as i know, he's still teaching.

    August 20, 2008 at 9:59 pm |
  12. Annie Kate

    Teachers and parents paddled kids when I was growing up – it was called discipline and it was used often. I didn't spank my children very often (maybe once or twice) and it was for major disobedience. I realized quite early on that my son at least could be beat like a gong and it wouldn't make any difference. I had to be more creative with punishments – I quickly learned that there were some things that the kids just hated to do – like cleaning bathrooms. So that was my favorite punishment to dole out – a week of cleaning the bathroom every day. I had the cleanest bathrooms in the neighborhood!

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 20, 2008 at 9:45 pm |
  13. Sharon

    When they took corpoal punishment out of most schools. The schools went wild.

    One of the reasons most people fear their children going to public school.

    Since many children do not get any discipline of any kind at home. Are not taught to respect people in authority, others children or themselves. How to behave, what is right and wrong etc,.

    August 20, 2008 at 9:43 pm |
  14. JC- Los Angeles

    Erica, I completely agree that the paddling and spanking of students does not belong in any classroom or modern society.

    What I find almost as troubling is the reference to "Little House." I believe it's been close to thirty years since the likes of Nellie Olsen and Half Pint have entered my mind.

    Thanks for taking me back to a simpler and gentler time.

    August 20, 2008 at 8:48 pm |
  15. Claire

    I went to school in the south and that was how it was. Paddles hung in a lot of teacher's rooms and they were allowed to paddle. I saw it administered to girls, boys, black, white and hispanic.

    Personally, I disagree with physically striking a child. No one in my family ever was and we turned out just fine. Teaching a child that hitting another is how you solve things seems barbaric. However, it's up to each parent how they will deal with it but it should be a parent's decision not a schools. I would loose it if anyone hit my child while at school.

    August 20, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  16. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    The lady left a 14 yr old in the car when she went into the casino? Why not just leave them home? The 14 yr old could babysit the little one. A cop that drinks? Does a dolphin like to swim? Of course cops drink......some of the worst drinkers. Then they come down on others and give them DUI's. Pretty ridiculous.............

    August 20, 2008 at 8:34 pm |
  17. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    When I was in first grade my mom figured I was an out of control little kid so made me bring a belt to school to give to my teacher , Mrs. Engen, and tell her to use it if she had to...........I waited til last to leave for the day and gave it to her.........she said" Oh Kent, we won't be needing that." I had a crush on my teacher.....Lol...........that was tough...........No I never saw any spanking going on in MN where I grew up............

    August 20, 2008 at 8:31 pm |
  18. lampe

    I don't believe in paddling, but that being said, we need for these teachers to be able to do something other than tell parents. Why, because 7 times out of 10, these kids have parents, who are busy doing their own thing, living their own lifes to care about these kids. If these poor kids, get no discipline, at home, or at school, then where will they get it, I'll tell you in prison.

    August 20, 2008 at 8:28 pm |
  19. stan in charleston

    as i recall i was spanked/paddled 6 or 8 times in my school career and needed every one of them if for no other reason than to maintain a clear line of authority. if my folks found out i'd get another one when dad got home from work. i think paddling, when administered properly, is an effective disciplinary tool. it didn't hurt me.

    August 20, 2008 at 8:07 pm |
  20. Bill in Nebraska


    I fully understand what you are saying with your post. I too was paddled when it was needed and punished when the crime was bad enough. I have no criminal past and I like to think that I am a caring and rounded person. However, your claim about kids not being disiplined does not hold water. There is one huge flaw in it. POPULATION. Take the ratio's and look at them. We are at about the same levels we were at that time by population. Punishment to children does not always make for a good child and thus adult. There are far more adults that were punished as children that have grown up to be very bad people than ones that have grown up to be pilers of society. There simply is never a reason to strike a child. We are the adults and we know how to deal with things and not take our anger out on children.

    Now as for kids yelling at you and spitting on you, that would be a flaw in you. If you deal with children in the correct way you will never have a problem. You, as the adult, just have to do your job and teach them and love them. It really is kind of simple but in the end it is the truth.


    August 20, 2008 at 8:00 pm |
  21. Deeter

    Starting elementary school in 1962, I saw so much abuse by certain teachers. My 1st grade teacher paddled (harshly, very hard) each student that missed a word in the reading group one day. They received a strike for each missed word. My sister's 1st grade teacher made her stand in front of the class and spank herself with the paddle for talking. My sister forever hated school after that. My husband was beat so badly by a principle that he had bruises on his backside, but was afraid to tell his parents because they were big believers in corporal punishment. He is scarred pychologically forever because of the stupid reasons he was beat at home and school. He was not a bad child. So, what adults were allowed to do to their children and students in the past is a big reason rules are so liberal today.

    August 20, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  22. Joy in Seattle

    To be the only parent in this forum to say this... GOOD!

    Spanking and paddling is a tool that should be wielded justly and rarely. Use it too often and it loses it's power. Use it not at all and we parents cease to have any. It also cannot be the only tool of discipline. Somehow, we lost the important fact that school isn't just to teach kids reading, math, and history. They also need to learn social interactions, teamwork, and discipline.

    If you teach a child that there are consiquences for there actions at a young age, they won't learn it the hard way when they are young adults destroying their lives with bad grads, dropping out, unprotected sex, and drugs. Our schools are plagued with fights, explusions, teenage pregancy, and high drop out rates. Reinstating corporal punishment won't completely get rid of that, but it sure will improve the bahavior of children before they get to high school.

    It's not about abuse. It's about hurting them a little to prevent serious, long term pain in the future.

    August 20, 2008 at 7:42 pm |
  23. Megan Dresslar

    Helloooo Erica,
    I can remember that time my mom sometimes spank me but not lot, one time I was in school just one spank, I was puinshed by school....oh wow! I never thought before my life...... that is so scary one.
    Anyway, I found out that Congresswoman Jones had died of her brain aneurysm on website CNN around 10 mintues ago.. that is so sad for her family and friend and colleague of democrats... My thoughts and prayer with Ohio State and Washington D.C. I am thankful to Congresswoman Jones who was so amazing woman I see her on TV. I hope that Ohio will have cope of Jones death.
    @ Joann in Ohio and Bloggers
    I hope you will know her sometimes my hearts go to you too!
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, Wa

    August 20, 2008 at 7:40 pm |
  24. Heather,Ca,US

    I don't understand what the you know what is wrong with people! Hi Erica.People who hit children don't seem to realize that those children will grow up to hit people. There are very good reason's why children might have problems in school.They are scientific,psychological and sometimes something could be happening at home that the child is not able to articulate at such a young age. It's always just lovely to know children are being physically abused and humuliated and it's sanctioned policy by the school district.I think there are some really selfish people who have their heads screwed on backwards.Being a teacher is any honor and being a parent whether that means the mother,father or grandparent the child always comes first! Sorry that means no gambling granny! I don't know about you Erca, but I think teachers and parents and anyone wanting to be a parent needs to have a psychological evaluation.

    August 20, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  25. Melissa, Los Angeles

    Thank you Jim!

    August 20, 2008 at 7:35 pm |
  26. Sharon from Indy

    Paddling a child is humiliating for the child. The child feels powerless against the abuse.

    I did spank my children's hands when they were about to put a scissors into a light socket, but I would not allow another adult to spank them due to a dress code or playground restriction.

    In addition, when the paddler is paddling, is it about discipline or punishment? There is a difference.

    August 20, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  27. Darla

    I was also spanked by my parents and at school and I haven't turned out to be some criminal nor was I juvenile delinquent. Now I am not for beating the mess out of children, but sometimes they do need an attitude adjustment. And yes I do spank my child. Time outs and grounding does not always remedy problems.

    I think the problems in our schools now is that the principles don't have the leverage over children like they used to. Just being afraid of being spanked by the principle was enough to keep me inline. Last school year I go to check my child out of school and sheriff's deputies were there tending to a unruly kid. The sheriff deputy told the 4th or 5th grader to go sit in the principle's office and he he misbehaved again the principle would spank him. (he was half joking). The first thing out of that kids mouth was "she can't touch me." I didn't see a cops head spin so fast. Where is the respect of authorities that kids once had.

    August 20, 2008 at 7:25 pm |
  28. Mike in NYC

    Larry wrote:

    "You can bet every one of those kids was black and paddled by a white teacher."

    Who was pushed past the point of not caring about the inevitable cries of "racism," at which time they finally doled out the discipline that these kids were not getting from their parents. (Excuse me, that's "parent" in most cases.)

    August 20, 2008 at 7:15 pm |
  29. Jim ,

    Hi Erica,
    Let me ask you a question- who was the wisest man? Did you say
    Solomen? If you did let me ask you are you wiser than He is?
    Try reading what he said- " Spare the Rod & SPOIL the child" When I was young & did wrong I got my Fathers Belt & geuss what? I STAYED OUT OF TROUBLE., & as a consequence learned QUICKLY When He was a Child & got in trouble it was the WOOD SHED & a hickory switch – Guess What? HE STAYED OUT OF TROUBLE.
    Today if I did as My GrandFather I'd be arrested for child abuse & what do we wind up with as a result of no disipline???? KIDS GETTING INTO TROUBLE You have my email, send me a note & I will send you
    a Copy of SCHOOL DISIPLINE only 100 years ago- Go back & check Juvinille delinquency rates then & now & guess what you'lll find-
    We have a lot more undisiplined BRATS running around, & NO I do NOT have Kids Nor will I because I won't put up with being cussed out or spit on by a kid.If You want to put up with it be my guest.

    August 20, 2008 at 7:05 pm |
  30. deborah davis

    so many children , are in trouble or jail because of this nonsense of paddling , kids should be paddled inorder to show them who is running things in the home. I was paddled as a child, and appreciate it now ( as a fourty two year old, i have good character , no criminal history , and career), i think of it as a family legacey to paddle, for example my son is twenty years old , enlisted with the United States Marine Corps, ( thanks for paddles)

    August 20, 2008 at 6:56 pm |
  31. Alexander

    I am against the idea of paddling as well. In fact, I don't see the real need for any real physical contact, at all. There are plenty of other ways to resolve issues of all sorts. Hmm, not a very nice grandmother there, now is she? More examples of bad behavior by people who are in places of trust, referring to both teachers and the grandmother in this news note. On a happier note, hope your evening is going well.: ) Take care, Erica.: )

    August 20, 2008 at 6:47 pm |
  32. Lilibeth

    Erica, I was spanked when I was a kid. My parents did the spanking, not the teachers, and it happened until the 3rd grade (I was never paddled, though). I was spanked not lightly, but not too hard either, enough to make me think what I’d done wrong. I can see why you would be upset with this, but to tell you the truth, I’m not bitter from it. My parents would assert that a combination of (non-abusive) spanking and a good talking to is an ideal combination for child discipline. I don’t know whether that’s true or not or whether it works for everybody, but I ended up OK. I credit my parents for who I am today. I have a good sense of what’s right and wrong, I follow the Golden Rule and treat everyone with dignity and respect. I have a good work ethic and a lot of people turn to me for advice because they respect my opinion and they also think that I’m a good listener. I’m a good person and am very successful in my career. I guess my point is the spanking didn’t scar me because it wasn’t abusive. Again, everyone has a different opinion on this, so to each their own. When the spanking becomes extreme is where I draw the line.

    See you tonight,

    Edmonds, Washington

    August 20, 2008 at 6:38 pm |
  33. Bill in Nebraska


    As a child I grew up in both L.A. and Seattle. I went to school in both. I am now 40 and back then they could do what ever they wanted to us kids in school. It really is shocking to see that it is still going on though.

    I was lucky and had a mother that would not stand for it in any way. My father really didn't care either way but, MOM... I remember the first time a Principal told my brother and myself that because we had ventured out to the parking lot, that he was going to have to paddle us. We told him to call our mother at work. He did and told my mother what he was about to do and she came through the phone. We were in Simi Valley California and she was working in Burbank. She made it to our school in less than 30 minutes. To this day we still have no idea how she did it. lol.

    Needless to say, the Principal never had the chance to "paddle" us. Our mother showed up with the school super and the Principal was informed to let us go. We had learned out lesson. A week later he was fired for what he tried to do to us.

    In Seattle I had a gym teacher that tried to "paddle" me with one of those boards that has holes in it to give the teacher more power. He was going to do this because I was not waring my gym uniform that day. So I told this clown that if he tried this it would be a career decision for him. He didn't listen to me and by days end he was taken from the school in hand cuffs for taking the paddle to me. I called my mother at work to let her know and once again she went off and did what any good parent would do. She got the fool fired.

    To this day I still do not understand why any school would allow this kind of thing. What in the world can a school age child to that can cause a fully grown adult to strike them? I can't think of a thing that they could do. I am just glad that in this day and age that if it ever happens to my nephew that I will know just what to do and how to get the teacher removed and thrown in jail if I need to.


    August 20, 2008 at 6:35 pm |
  34. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Erica,
    I went to a Catholic school. There were no paddles, only Nuns armed and ready with that evil eye look they were so good at. If we acted up, one look and we zipped our lips. No need for paddles there.
    I guess if you are on the lam it's best to nix the warm and toasty fireside chats! Take Care

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    August 20, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  35. Larry

    You can bet every one of those kids was black and paddled by a white teacher.

    August 20, 2008 at 6:15 pm |
  36. Stacy

    From what I remember, my elementary school principal kept a paddle hanging in his office. This was in the 80's.

    August 20, 2008 at 6:07 pm |