The study shows that more than 200,000 schoolchildren are paddled, spanked or subjected to other physical punishment each year, and disabled students get a disproportionate share of the treatment.
The Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union, the two watchdog groups that prepared the report, are pressing federal and state lawmakers to extend a corporal punishment ban nationwide and enact an immediate moratorium on physical punishment of students with disabilities.
In federal Department of Education data, 223,190 public school students nationwide were reported to have been paddled during the 2006-07 school year. Of these, at least 19 percent — about 41,972 students — had disabilities. Nationwide, students with disabilities make up 14 percent of all students.
As recently as the 1970s, only two states had laws banning corporal punishment, but 28 others have since passed similar legislation. Corporal punishment is still permitted in some form in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.
However, some teachers and officials believe that a protocol for punishment is an issue for individual schools — not state or federal government — to decide.