Study finds minorities more likely to be paddled

A quarter of a million schoolchildren got them last year - and blacks, American Indians and kids with disabilities got a disproportionate share of the punishment. That's according to a study by a human rights group.

The study released today by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union used Education Department data to show that, while paddling has been declining, racial disparity persists. Researchers also interviewed students, parents and school personnel in Texas and Mississippi. States that account for 40% of the 223,190 kids who were paddled at least once in the 2006-2007 school year.

Even little kids can be paddled. Heather Porter of Crockett, Texas, was startled to hear her little boy, then age 3, say he'd been spanked at school. Porter was never told, despite a policy at the public preschool that parents be notified.

Porter could have filled out a form telling the school not to paddle her son, if only she had realized he might be paddled. Yet many parents find that such forms are ignored, the study said.

A majority of states have outlawed corporal punishment, but it remains widespread across the South. Behind Texas, which leads the nation in paddling, ranked Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida and Missouri.

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