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For other uses, see paddle (disambiguation)

A spanking paddle is a wooden instrument with a long, flat face and narrow neck, existing in various sizes and dimensions, used to administer corporal punishment to the buttocks, especially in North America. It is rarely found in the rest of the English-speaking world, where the same purpose is typically served by a rattan cane.


Scope of use

Paddling is mainly used in many parts of the United States as a means to discipline misbehaving school students. It might also still be found and used in some homes to punish children.

Paddling as punishment in U.S. schools

The paddle is the almost invariable implement in US schools that still allow corporal punishment for student misconduct. Typically, with two or more administrators present, the student is told to bend over a desk or chair and receives the prescribed number of strokes of the paddle, normally in an office, but sometimes in a hallway. In the vast majority of cases the punishment is delivered across the lower seat of the student's normal trousers or jeans.

In the majority of U.S. schools, paddling is more strictly regulated than in the past, some schools publishing detailed rules in their student handbooks.[1] Nowadays there is often a maximum of three swats (or "licks" or "pops"). Until fairly recently, paddlings of up to seven licks were not unknown. Practice has gradually moved from paddlings that other students might witness accidentally or intentionally to paddlings administered out of the sight of other students, typically in the principal's office. Most "hallway" paddlings were the ones that could be viewed by other students, administrators or outsiders visiting the school.

Most urban public school systems in the United States have banned all forms of corporal punishment. Statistics collected by the federal government show that the use of the paddle has been declining consistently, in all states where it is used, over at least the past 20 years. Some private schools also still use corporal punishment.

As of September 2009, 20 states allow corporal punishment in schools.[2] Approximately 350,000 cases of physical punishment are reported in schools each year.[3] Statistics show that black and Hispanic students are more likely to be paddled than white students, possibly because minority-race parents are more inclined to approve of it.[4] Male students receive about 75 to 85% of all corporal punishment.[5]

Social discipline

  • Some university or college traditions enforce(d) rules by paddling offenders. In the University of Missouri until World War II,[6] any freshman found on the 'quad', the most prestigious square on campus, had to offer his 'insolent' posterior for punishment along a paddle line formed by swatting seniors.
  • Fraternities and sororities are commonly associated with paddling of members, especially new members or pledges. Due to modern anti-hazing laws and regulations, this has declined. This entire subculture is peculiar to North America, and unknown in the British world.

Other play and traditions

The paddle is also a favorite implement for non-disciplinary "fun" spankings, as also for paddle games (such as trading blows) or a paddle machine or spanking pyramid.

See also


  1. ^ Corporal punishment regulations of individual schools or school districts (external links to present-day school handbooks) at World Corporal Punishment Research.
  2. ^ "Corporal Punishment and Paddling Statistics by State and Race", Center for Effective Discipline.
  3. ^ Owen, S.S. (2005). The relationship between social capital and corporal punishment in schools: A theoretical inquiry. Youth and Society, 37, 85-112.
  4. ^ Horn, I.B., Joseph, J.G., Cheng, T.L. "Nonabusive Physical Punishment and Child Behavior among African-American Children: A Systematic Review", in Journal of the National Medical Association, September 2004, Vol. 96, No. 9. ISSN 00279684
  5. ^ Gregory, James F., "Crime of punishment: Racial and gender disparities in the use of corporal punishment in U.S. public schools", The Journal of Negro Education, Fall 1995.
  6. ^ 'Paddle Lines' at David R. Francis Quadrangle, "Mizzou Traditions" web page.

External links

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