Episode 35: School or prison? School-sanctioned corporal punishment with Tate Aldrich

Nineteen states in the US still allow corporal punishment in the classroom. Shocking, right? As parents, teachers, and adults who care about the welfare of our children, we have to be willing to come together and take action to protect our kids against violence.  

Much of corporal punishment is rooted in racism, specifically anti-black oppression. Black and brown children are disproportionately punished at school and an integral part of the school to prison pipeline is corporal punishment and the perpetuation of trauma. 

During the enslavement of black people in the south, white people perpetuated a false idea that black people could endure more pain than white people. If we think these anti-black biases haven’t been passed down to future principals, police officers, political leaders, etc… we’re kidding ourselves!

As parents raising the next generation of thought leaders, we must look at the violence for what it is…. a remnant of enslavement.

I send my daughter, Gia, to school to learn how to interact with others in a social environment, not to be brutalized with violence. Imagine what children are learning from teachers who paddle them?

 Tate Aldrich is a former teacher and administrator, as well as the Founding Director of Arkansans Against School Paddling, an educational watchdog and advocacy group whose goal is a legislative ban on school-sanctioned corporal punishment. 

“We’re not just fighting some education tradition… we’re fighting, as you know, a really complicated cultural issue.”

Gathering data and spreading this information is the key to banning corporal punishment. 

Tate sheds light on the reality of corporal punishment in American schools, highlighting the fact that 70% of corporal punishment takes place in only 4 US states: Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Texas. Hmmm, I wonder why! On top of that, school districts are notorious for not recording incidents of paddling. 

“If the institution doesn’t want to recognize or address a problem, they’re not going to collect data on it.”

Students learn more in school than what’s in the curriculum. So, my question is: Why are schools not willing to let go of this traumatic form of punishment? 

In 1979, Sweden banned corporal punishment in homes and schools, which led to a drastic decrease in parents’ acceptance of it over the next two decades (down to 8% from 53%). “Changing the law, saying ‘we don’t endorse this kind of behavior,’ will slowly change the way people understand their parenting,” Tate says.

If we want to make a difference in the lives of our children, it starts with the school handbooks.

Though school districts have extremely complicated bureaucracies, there are resources and toolkits you can take advantage of to better navigate this issue so you can keep your children safe. 

If you’re homeschooling, awesome..but that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved with public school issues. What’s happening to other children matters just as much as what’s happening to our own because when we live in community, trauma and violence creates a harmful ripple effect that has the potential to also affect you and your family. 

Let your voice be part of this mission.

Tips for Getting Involved in Banning Corporal Punishment:

  • Visit BanPaddlingAR.com and follow them on social media to stay updated and to access their tools and resources. Contact Arkansans Against School Paddling via their website to receive your free toolkit!
  • Equip yourself with facts and recognize logical fallacies so that you can educate your community.
  • Invoke the mission of your school district to elevate discourse with school officials and help your school seek best practices.
  • No matter where you stand as an ally, don’t be contentious or aggressive. Approach conversations with love and with your children’s best interest in mind.
  • Write to your elected officials, share the data, and express your concerns.

Remember, our children’s welfare starts with us and requires patience, perseverance, and love.

Stay tuned for more info on my upcoming Non-Violent Communication and Discipline Workshops!


About Tate Aldrich:

Tate Aldrich is a former award-winning high school teacher and administrator, and he is the Founding Director of Arkansans Against School Paddling, an educational watchdog and advocacy group whose goal is a legislative ban on school-sanctioned corporal punishment. He currently works at the University of Arkansas.

To connect further with Tate and support his mission to ban paddling in schools:

Visit his website: https://banpaddlingar.com 

Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/banpaddlingar 

Connect with him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BanPaddlingAR