New Mexico Bans Spanking Children In Schools

Public schools in New Mexico can no longer spank or paddle students to discipline them under legislation signed into law on April 6 by Governor Susana Martinez.

Corporal Punishment Still Legal In 19 U.S. States

That leaves 19 states where corporal punishment in schools is still legal, but abolishing it in New Mexico is definitely progress.

A Child Hit Every 23 Seconds

As I wrote here, a few weeks ago, in the 2006 – 2007 school year, 222,517 students were paddled in U.S. public schools. That averages one child being hit in school every 23 seconds.

This ban passed in the House by a vote of 36 to 31 and in the Senate 22 to 17.

As reported by Reuters,

Opponents of the New Mexico ban argued that school officials need the threat of physical punishment to maintain discipline and that policies ought to be up to local school boards, not the state.

Two-thirds of New Mexico’s school districts had already banned corporal punishment, which can range from denying children permission to go to the bathroom to hitting them, said Tara Ford, co-director of Pegasus Legal Services for Children, a non-profit.

There were 705 incidents of corporal punishment in New Mexico in 2006, the last year such statistics were gathered, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Poor and Minority Children, Those With Disabilities Targeted Most?

Also at issue is who gets spanked. Poor and minority children and children with disabilities including autism are much more likely than other children to receive corporal punishment in schools, said Jim Jackson, Executive Director of Disability Rights New Mexico, as first reported by Reuters.

The state of Texas may be the next to explore this issue. Last month a high school junior in Witchita Falls, Texas, received three swats to his buttocks so severe that he wound up in the hospital (“Schools Under Pressure to Spare the Rod Forever,” New York Times, Mar. 30). His offense was skipping detention at his high school.

Resolve Problems Without Resorting To Violence

Students need to learn rules about behavior as much as they need to learn rules about any subject. But just as certain pedagogical practices are better than others, so too are certain discipline practices. Students need to learn how to resolve problems without resorting to violence.

All teachers know that without a good behavior management plan in the classroom, they can’t teach. We spend a lot of time at the beginning of the school year setting up and enforcing that plan. But the ultimate goal is to have our students learn how to take responsibility for themselves and gain a sense of inner discipline.

Physical Abuse Is An Admission Of Failure

Not only is paddling physically and emotionally dangerous, it also transfers the disciplinary action away from the student, and does not help the student grow from his or her mistakes. Paddling is an admission of failure, and it has no place in our schools.

Thank you, New Mexico.

Related Stories:

Beating Children Is Still Legal in 20 U.S. States

Every 23 Seconds A Child Is Beaten At School


Photo credit: iStock


New G.
W. C7 years ago

Thank you for the good news.

John Kramer
John Kramer7 years ago

All 50 states should ban corporal punishment is all academic and religious institutions. It is time to educate parents, child care workers, teachers and clergy how to discipline children without using violence. I am glad New Mexico banned corporal punishment in school. It is a step in the right direction.

Olga L.
Olga Leonenko7 years ago

I am living in Canada. and was in absolute shock that it is still legal in the USA! And that 13% of Care community believe it's fine!

Sarah M.
Sarah M8 years ago

i can't believe this abuse is still occurring

Betsy M.
Betsy M8 years ago

Fortunately, actual physical punishment is going away (except for children who are minority or disabled), but the mentality that you have to punish and humiliate children into being good is not.

April Thompson
April Thompson8 years ago

DeLuca, corporal punishment is not throwing someone done the stairs-that is outright abuse! I am for corporal punishment because there are too many children ( starting at age 3 and above) who are disrespectful, rude, selfish, backtalking brats! One quick squat on their behinds or hands will be all that is necessary- just to get their attention. Parents are not doing their jobs- raising their children to respect others, have manners, be polite, and think about others' feelings and right from wrong! They are too worried about paying for their McMansions, luxury cars, etc.! I, for one am tired of seeing kids in public behaving like brats! My soon to be 4 year old needs very little discipline because he knows what my husband and I expect of him- he is a happy, well-adjusted little boy who has manners (says please, thank you, may I, etc.), says sorry after doing something wrong, and shares with others! If he ever talked back to a teacher rudely and even tried to hit, kick, bite, etc. at a teacher- he would never try it again because as his parents we would squat his behind and take away his toys!! As a child, I only got smacked once, but I deserved it- called my mentally-retarded cousin - a stupid retard- I am very thankful that my mother did this because I never called anyone that ever again! Abuse is kicking, punching, biting! Unless a child has developmental issues like autism, then there is no reason for him to act like a brat! Bratty children grow up to be bratty adults!

Emma Peach
Emma Peach8 years ago

WTF??? I'm shocked it's still legal anywhere!!!! Thats soo fucking backwards.. I mean America has the cheek to step in to other peoples business like Middle eastern politics and human rights but don't look after there own?? Thats just shameful and i'd be so embarrassed !!! The most vulnerable get hit.. So many of these kids get abused at home in some form or another which makes them act out at school and they get abused there too!!! STOP IT!! If my child were spanked at school i'd go to prison for sure but the asshole who did it would be taking the express elevator to Hell

K s Goh
KS Goh8 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Ameer T.
Ameer T8 years ago

You spend millions of tax dollars on teacher training programs and it all comes down to the cane?

Aren't there any child psychaitrists or consulatants in America? can't someone still answer why children act the way they do?

Ameer T.
Ameer T8 years ago

My God, even in Afghanistan and Pakistan childern are not canned in schools.

Shame on you America and shame on your civility. No wonder America is producing statistics such as:

50 percent of adult Americans cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level.

20 percent of Americans are functionally illiterate and read below a 5th grade level.

Approximately 50 percent of Americans read so poorly that they are unable to perform simple tasks such as balancing a checkbook and reading prescription drug labels.

Only 3% of Americans read books.

Less than 15% of Americans under the age of 40 read newspapers.

Not even taking into consideration the Fruedian aspect of the result of spankings IT IS a widely marketed porn fetish as well.
It is an insult to the human intelligence that humans need to be caged, hit and denied natural needs to be made to understand things.

Teachers just wont have to invest time and effort into understanding your child if he/ she has Autism or if he/ she is the next Einstein who merly thinks out of the box. The cane, while trying to pull below average students upto to the mark, also brings down the geniuses down to the average mark. The cane is the great equalizer, the averager adding yet another kid as another brick in the wall.

And to the Catholic schools i would like to ask, was Jesus hitting his Disciples when he was teching them the complexities of life?