How Do Indianapolis Parents Feel about Schools Paddling Their Children?

While scrolling on Twitter one day, I saw a post I almost couldn’t believe, “Texas school district  approves paddling misbehaving students.”  I almost threw my phone because I was in disbelief.  Have we really run out of strategies to curve misbehavior that we have to resort to corporal punishment? Three Rivers Independent School board in South Texas approved the use of paddles to administer corporal punishment. According to the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, corporal punishment is defined as “deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping or any other physical force used as a means of discipline.” 

According to the report parents have the opportunity to opt in or out of the policy. Parents can opt out through written or verbal consent. Onceparents opt out, their child(ren) cannot be paddled. If parents do not opt out, their child(ren) will receive one paddle for the infraction when they misbehave in school. 

Corporal punishment is still legal in Indiana.  WTHR reported:  


Indiana state law allows corporal punishment, though most districts have locally decided to use other forms of discipline. In fact, the law lets school staff “take any disciplinary action necessary to promote student conduct” in the same manner a parent may.


An analysis of U.S. Department of Education data performed by Indiana Public Media found 30 schools across 17 public school districts recorded a total of 239 instances of corporal punishment in the 2013-14 school year, which is the most recent data available.

I wanted to know from Indianapolis residents, who have school age children, whether or not they would opt in or out if this policy was implemented at their child(ren)’s school.   


Opt Out:

Ashley Ushi, mother of daughter and son in private school  

Of course I would opt out. Discipline and training begins at home.   I strongly believe that parents are their child's first teachers.  To put the discipline of your child into the hands of another - all it says is to a child is you don't care about me enough to protect me when someone is hurting me. A lot of times, the discipline by an individual to a person that is not their child could yield abuse which is not in the best interest of the child.  Children may feel scared to be in these situations. Can you imagine being a child in school where an administrator is allowed to discipline you with a paddle and then have to go back to class after this happened? The pain! There is the humiliation because all of the students will know.

Brandon Brooks, father of son and daughter

I’d opt out… I don’t think the school personnel love my kids enough to spank them. If teachers were in the community that they teach in, I think I might be okay with it. If they were in my community there would be a sense of accountability for all parties involved.

LaNiece Holifield, mother of 5th grade daughter

I would opt out because I have a ten year old daughter that is headed to 5th grade.  She is a lot bigger than most ten year olds, weight and height, so they may use excessive force and I am not having that.  Plus, it’s way more effective if they call me because she knows mom doesn’t play!

Shawnta Barnes, mother of public school 1st grade twin sons

I would opt out because of implicit bias in the classroom.  I am a mother of two Black boys and research has shown that Black boys are disciplined at a disproportionate rate as compared to other students.  If a school decided to paddle, I believe black children would be paddled at higher rates.  When my sons were in Pre-K 3, an assistant was fired for verbally abusing one of my sons.  It took my son a while to trust school personnel.  If either one of them were paddled, I believe it would be a detriment to their education because they would lose trust.  Also, I believe corporal punished is an overused discipline tactic. Many times parents use this as a easy fix and the child never understands what he or she did wrong or is taught how to make different choices in the future.

Mother of public school 7th grade son

Opt out.  

1. My son doesn’t do well with physical discipline… it doesn’t register.

2. It is more effective if the teacher calls me instead of thinking they will get him to do what they want through physical discipline.

3. I think it’s inappropriate for a school to discipline my child like that. My son attends a public school, but did attend a charter up until 5th grade. That was stressful and challenging and that is why I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.

Charter school mother of 3rd grader son

Not these days - I would opt out. I would rather come up there or send someone I trust to come handle it especially at the school my child attends where black children are the majority and black teachers are the minority.

Mother of 6th grade daughter and 2nd grade son

I would opt out… we are living in different time and there are so many other forms of discipline. What worked back then is not as effective now. I don’t even paddle my own children. We do time out; I take electronics and things of that nature.

Father of 3rd grade daughter

As a father to a 3rd grade girl I would say no.  As a man, I don’t want my daughter being comfortable with an adult, man or woman, hitting her as a disciplinary tactic.


Opt In:

James Conner, father of 8th grade son and 3rd grade daughter

I would opt in. I am a father of both a son and a daughter. I do discipline my children at home. I trust the school I send my children to and would ok with them being paddled. I have a son who only responds well when he is being disciplined physically. My daughter does not get in much trouble, but when she does at home she does get popped on her bottom and she doesn’t typically repeat the behavior.

Eric Smith, father of 5th grade son

I would allow the school to paddle my child. I do not want my child being hit multiple times, but one paddle would work for me. I believe kids act the way they act in school because they do not get paddled. I was paddled when I was in school and it kept me from getting in trouble.

Mother of 7th grade son

I would opt in. I would only agree to the principal being the one who does the paddling. It would also have to be only one. I would opt in because I would rather my child be paddled than being suspended from school. My child attends a school where they get suspended for small infractions and I would definitely take a paddling over him sitting at home.

Mother of 4th grade daughter

When my daughter gets out of line, I spank her. I would allow the school to paddle her if she gets out of line. They would first need to call me and I will agree to it depending on what she did. I would prefer it is a woman who does it and not a man. 


My Thoughts

I do not have kids so answering this question was hard for me.  As a teacher, I see the value in the paddle. Often, it is the physical discipline students respond to. I am not referring to beating a child, but a tap of pain to let them know that the behavior they are exhibiting is not appropriate. I do feel that tap must come from a place of love. The power behind a parent disciplining their child is behind the strike is love. They are doing this to teach their child(ren) a lesson. 

Now let me put the parent hat on. As mentioned in the comments above, discipline and training begins at home. The reason this is even a topic and that school districts especially in Texas have moved to this measure is the lack of trust schools have for parents disciplining their child(ren). Regardless as a potential future father, I would not feel comfortable with someone putting his or her hands on my child.



David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.