The Crime of Punishment: Racial and Gender Disparities in the Use of Corporal Punishment in U.S. Public Schools

By Gregory, James F. | The Journal of Negro Education, Fall 1995 | Go to article overview

The Crime of Punishment: Racial and Gender Disparities in the Use of Corporal Punishment in U.S. Public Schools


Gregory, James F., The Journal of Negro Education


Anecdotal evidence has long suggested that boys in general and African American males in particular are disproportionately represented among students who receive corporal punishment (CP) in school. Until 1994, no national data disaggregated by race and gender were available to determine if African American boys are indeed subjected to physical discipline at excessive rates. This study provides the first analysis of such race/gender-disaggregated data; it also lamentably confirms the popular belief. The incidence of African American males receiving CP was found to be extremely high, as was the likelihood ratio comparing Black male students' CP rates to those for other race/gender cohorts, especially White females. Limitations of the data set and implications of the findings are discussed.

INTRODUCTION

The song of American education has long been sung to the tune of the hickory stick. Hyman (1990a) cites a schoolmaster in Boston in 1850 as claiming it took 65 beatings a day to keep the pedagogical process of a program serving 400 students running smoothly. In 1876, the school board of Newark, New Jersey, recorded 9,408 administrations of physical discipline, including actual floggings, for a system of 10,000 pupils.

In the present epoch, the U.S. Supreme Court's 1977 ruling in Ingraham v. Wright deemed that the hitting of pupils by school personnel was not a violation of children's Constitutional guarantees to due process or to protection from cruel and unusual punishment (Hyman,1990b). In the waning years of the 20th century, however, both the rationale for and the incidence of corporal punishment (CP) appear to have declined. By 1995, some 26 states had banned the practice altogether ("Student Spankings OK'd," 1995). Nonetheless, corporal punishment-i.e., the hitting of a child by an adult-survives in much of America's public educational system, and a large number of American adults, especially teachers, continue to support the use of physical discipline in the country's elementary and secondary schools (Brown & Payne, 1988; Elam, 1989).

Given this reality, many questions arise: What kinds of physical discipline are being used in our schools? Who receives such punitive measures? Who administers it? Are all children equally likely to get hit? What are the demographics of corporal punishment? These are the questions the present study seeks to answer.

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

There is one very obvious element regarding the use of corporal punishment in elementary and secondary programs that makes it unique and thus worthy of special consideration, and it is that the recipients of this form of punishment are still, by definition, children. Despite the distressing nature of the practice of corporal punishment, and given the current popular rhetoric of concern for children's well-being emanating from both the right and the left, the literature regarding it is surprisingly scant. Moreover, the information that is available seems at times to fly in the face of popular conceptions.

For example, contrary to popular belief, many incidents of physical discipline that take place in either the classroom or the principal's office do not necessarily involve mere mild spankings. Hyman (1990b) provides a chilling litany of violent measures taken by adults against children in America's schools: twisting children's arms; banging their heads on desks; ramming them up against lockers or walls; and punching, slapping, kicking, and shaking them into submission. Instruments that reportedly have been used to inflict CP include wooden paddles, rubber hoses, leather straps and belts, switches, sticks, rods, ropes, straight pins, plastic baseball bats, and arrows (Hyman, 1990b).

Who exactly is the most likely adult to use CP? The literature is not altogether clear, though Rose (1984) found that female principals are more likely to report using physical discipline than are their male peers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Crime of Punishment: Racial and Gender Disparities in the Use of Corporal Punishment in U.S. Public Schools
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.