Congressional Hearing on Corporal Punishment in Schools

The House Committee on Education and Labor, Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities, chaired by Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), recently held a hearing on “Corporal Punishment in Schools and its Effect on Academic Success.”  McCarthy explained that over 220,000 students were paddled in schools in the United States in the 2006-2007school year, according to the most recent data available from the U.S Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR).

Teachers and school administrators from across the country testified including Wynell Gilbert, a teacher at Erwin High School in Center Point, Alabama. He described a program developed by the American Federation of Teachers that trains teachers to “run effective, orderly, safe, and respectful classrooms” without the use of corporal punishment. It was also noted that research does not indicate that corporal punishment leads to better behaved students or enhanced classroom control. For the full hearing transcript click here

According to Representative McCarthy, corporal punishment is permitted in 20 states and OCR statistics indicate that a disproportionate number of those paddled are African-American or disabled students and are likely to be in kindergarten through the 8th grade. McCarthy stated that she plans to introduce legislation to end paddling in schools, observing that federal statutes already prohibit physical punishment in prisons, jails, and medical facilities. NASW has long been opposed to the physical punishment of children in schools. To read about NASW’S policy statement on this and other school social work issues, go to

NASW has co-signed a letter with the National Child Abuse Coalition, recognizing Representative McCarthy’s efforts to address corporal punishment in schools. To read the full sign on letter, click here.

For more information on NASW’s work in child abuse prevention, go to the Child Welfare or Children Adolescents and Young Adults section, Credentials, and Practice Standards.

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