Instigator / Pro

Spanking/paddling should be allowed as a form of punishment in American public schools.


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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After 2 votes and with 8 points ahead, the winner is...

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It turns out that some people struggle with the concept of what counts for "reasonable corporal punishment."

So, we'll simplify the topic: "Spanking/paddling should be allowed as a form of punishment in American public schools. "

Spanking/paddling as we're talking about is ONLY that which the law would permit a parent to do in the United States and nothing more.


Round 1: affirmative cases (absent any specific refutation of arguments made by the opposing side).

Round 2: rebuttals (and may introduce new evidence in support of such rebuttals).

Round 3: conclusions/voting issues (nothing new that wasn't in Rounds 1 & 2).

Round 1
This debate is about whether spanking/paddling should be allowed in American public schools.  

  • Observation: Let's not put the cart before the horse.
    • This debate isn't about whether spanking/paddling should be implemented in any specific way, used for specific conduct violations or should be mandatory.
    • Those would be the next steps, once we decide whether spanking/paddling should be allowed.  
  • 1. The failed status quo.
    • A. Student conduct violations; Current approach.
      • Most student conduct violations are for garden-variety misbehavior; not drugs, gangs or violent offenses. According to the empirical literature, offenses involving defiance and insubordination comprise the majority of causes for school discipline. (Bloomberg 2004, 2 (reviewing literature)). 
      • Few options are available to maintain appropriate classroom discipline: referral, in-/out-of-school suspension or expulsion. (Bloomberg 2004; Mizel 2016).
      • It seemingly never occurred to "educators" that taking problem kids out of the classroom and segregating them into groups with other misbehaving students might make the problems worse; even though that is amply reflected in the relevant literature. 
      • Prolonged time periods spent outside of the classroom and away from structured learning environments is particularly harmful to students most in need of structure and positive influence (Kirsch 2019).
        • ISS in particular “was associated with lower grade point averages and increased likelihood of high school dropout," (Cholewa 2019).
        • Out-of-school suspension results in similar outcomes (Bloomberg 2004).
    • B. Current approach fails. 
      • Short & Long term outcomes. 
        • Short term:
          • Failure to achieve intended purpose: To no one’s surprise, it turns out that referrals and in-/out-of-school suspension fail to deter student misconduct (Bloomberg 2004, 2-8). 
          • Bad situation, made worse: American Academy of Pediatrics 2003 warns that current measures such as suspension and expulsion “exacerbate academic deterioration, and when students are provided with no immediate educational alternative, student alienation, delinquency, crime and substance abuse may ensue,” (AAPS 2003).
        • Long term:
          • The "referral" or suspension-based discipline model contributes to the “school-to-prison” pipeline, to the detriment of students/society (Bloomberg 2004; Mizel 2016).
          • Student suspensions cause life-long harm to students and their communities.  (Batcher-Hicks 2019, 17-21).
            • According to Batcher-Hicks 2019, school suspensions result in overall declines in student achievement, lower lifelong educational attainment and adult criminal activity. 
            • In particular, schools with higher suspension rates are 15 to 20% more likely to be arrested and incarcerated as adults, are less likely to attend/complete college. 
          • Rosenbaum 2018 shows that “[p]rior to suspension, the suspended and non suspended youth did not differ on 60 pre-suspension variables including students’ self-reported delinquency and risk behaviors, parents’ reports of socioeconomic status, and administrators reports of school disciplinary policies."
            • Yet, [t]welve years after suspension (ages 25-32), suspended youth were less likely than matched non-suspended youth to have earned bachelor’s degrees or high school diplomas and were more likely to have been arrested and on probation, suggesting that suspension...explains negative outcomes.” (Rosenbaum 2018).
      • Status quo undermines the education system's goals.
        • Minorities hurt the most. 
          • Minority students are the most likely to be the most hurt by the current suspension-based discipline model (Mizel 2016).
          • According to Mizel 2016, latinos were most likely to receive office referral, and blacks most likely to be suspended or expelled. Likewise, boys were more much more likely than girls to receive office referral and to be suspended or expelled. 
            • Illustrative example: In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, 23% of middle school students are suspended each school year and suspensions are concentrated heavily among minority populations.
        • Boys in particular are left behind.
          • In school: According to national trend data, boys account for about about 70% of all school suspensions, receive lower grades, fail grades more often, present with more hyperactive-related disciplinary issues and are far more likely to be segregated into "special educational" programs (Jackson 2013).
          • Out of school: boys commit suicide 2-3 times more frequently than girls, account for about 80% of all high school drop-outs, fail to attend college at substantially higher rates than girls (college populations are only about 44% male) and are about a 1-1.5 yrs behind girls in achievement in reading and writing (Jackson 2013).
          • Current approaches to remediate these problems (promoting engagement, peer interaction, etc.) haven't helped  (see Whitmire 2011; Jackson 2013 (discussing harms, recommendations)).
      • It wasn't always this bad.  
        • While I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that not paddling students is what got us here, cross-cultural empirical data do not find these achievement gap issues before the second half of the 20th century (see, e.g., Hermann 2019), which is when public efforts against spanking/paddling really started to set in.
  • 2. Spanking/paddling: the reasonable alternative.
    • A. Old model wasn't broken; shouldn't have been "fixed."
      • Junk science animated the move against spanking/paddling.
        • The empirical literature clearly demonstrates no lasting harm resulting from spanking (see, e.g., Baumrind (Berkeley); Baumrind 2001; Scientific American). 
        • The public move against spanking/paddling largely came about as a result of junk science (e.g., Gershoff 2013; Sheehan 2008) devoid of evidence for alleged harms and lacking viable alternatives (Gunnoe 2019).
        • Baumrind 2002 warns that the majority of negative child-behavior outcomes alleged in the anti-spanking literature are based on “methodological weaknesses,” which I will address I am sure at greater length in the rounds to come.  (Baumrind 2002; see also Larzelere 2010, Baumrind 2001).
      • What the evidence actually says. 
        • The data on spanking/paddling obviates any basis for opposition to it; spanking/paddling is very much in kids’ best interest. (Fuller 2015).
        • In contrast to methodologically flawed research(e.g., Gershoff's life work) and politicized pop-psychology opposing spanking, less spanking is directly linked to more child abuse and more teen violence; while children who are spanked tend to have the highest levels of optimism, academic achievement and highest self-esteem. (Fuller 2015, 264-315; see also Larzelere & Baumrind 2010).
        • Kids who are spanked performed better in school, were more involved and optimistic in terms of their future, compared with those never spanked (CNN 2010).
    • B. Spanking/paddling: a tried and true method that works.
      • Nexus between discipline & the boys' achievement gap. 
        • According to the empirical literature, a "more disciplined school climate" is likely to improve boys' educational outcomes in the short and long term (Hermann 2019). 
      • School administrators agree that paddling is effective.
        • For example, Kenneth Whalum Jr., a board commissioner for Memphis City Schools in Tennessee, told CNN that, in his experience, “[o]ur public education is in a state of crisis because the current discipline system in this nation is being ineffectively implemented,” and “[c]orporal punishment would be an arrow in the quiver for teachers to use at their disposal. It’s the best way to get the system right,” (CNN 2010).
        • To wit, school districts are bringing spanking/paddling back. For example, in March 2020 the Pampa ISD in Texas voted to bring back spanking/paddling for the 2021 school year, following others throughout Texas with minimal opposition from parents or students (Miller 2020; see also NY Times 2018).
      • Student preferences & experiences.
        • Smithfield High School Principal Chad O’Brian told a local news outlet that “A lot of the children actually would rather take spanking/paddling.  When they get into detention or [in/out-of-school suspension] then they are going to start missing extra curricular activities, ball games can’t participate, can’t come to games and those kinds of things. They would rather just...get it over with,” (WBCI 2019).
        • Student accounts confirm that spanking/paddling, specifically paddling, motivated them to stay out of trouble. For example, Three Rivers ISD student Joseph Garcia said that being paddled wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  “It was kinda embarrassing. I Shouldn't have done thing I did. I'm now doing better changes and doing my best to stay out of trouble,” Garcia told a local news outlet (Garcia 2017).
        • Additionally, Ozen High School student Raleigh Johnson Reported that after being paddled for failing a class, the coach “got it through [Johnson’s] head” that grades were important, he told a local newspaper (Henry 2012).
        • Likewise, Julian Mansfield, a 19-year-old student agrees with his former high school’s use of spanking/paddling. He told CNN that the potential shame caused by spanking/paddling is more a deterrent than the threat of pain, unlike suspension or detention which does not involve the same level of embarrassment (CNN 2010).


Strategic and Ethical issues with Corporal Punishment

I am assuming, having read Pro's case, that this will include the psychologically abusive (would-be-legal, yet abusive) aspects of corporal punishment. The idea being not just to spank and paddle to cause pain itself but to humiliate the subject, embarassing them as everyone knows what they went through, perhaps even doing it over-the-clothes for all to see (Pro will clarify the details I'm sure, I can't rebuke anything here but the specifics should be a point of discussion).

Issue 1: Does the student/pupil know why they're being punished?

One of the issues even with detention but certainly with spanking and paddling is that the punishment vs reward system of how a school shapes students' behaviour should focus quite a bit on making the punished understand why they're being treated that way. A huge issue with punishments that specifically focus on sadistic deterrence as the central tenet of their formation is that they take all the focus of the student away from the 'why'.

I do not doubt that Pro will say 'if I spank you and make clear why I'm doing that to you, you will know.' The issue is that the student rarely will genuinely do so on a subconscious level. More so than any other means of punishment, pain-inducing punishment as well as humiliation inducing punishment results in the student's mind focusing almost entirely on the negative experience, not on the 'why am I here and do I really deserve this' aspect.

I won't give a source/reference for this, I am pretty sure it's self-evidently true since that is also what proponents of it like about it (how intense the negative experience is). The students remember the pain and experience, not the 'why' and certainly not the type of thinking that will lead to asking themselves 'are these punishers actually good guys/women who just want what's best for me?'

This leads immediately into the second issue.

Issue 2: Masochists and antisocial sadists will be 'made' at worst but definitely 'pushed along the way' much more than they otherwise would if this is a commonplace practise in their schooling life.

To be clear, there is nothing morally wrong with what consenting adults (which the students aren't old enough to be yet) doing something they mutually enjoy in a sexual experience. The issue is what you are actually doing to these students isn't helping them nearly as much as it's harming them. At the very best, you've scared them deeply but at worst imagine the two following types of student psyches:

  1. Enjoys the punishment and learns to crave abuse and pain.
  2. Was just a rebellious guy with a swagger about him but becomes deeply, dangerously sadistic and furious at the world for the experiences he goes through both physically and in the sense of humiliation.
These students definitely exist.

Teachers and principals sometimes say, "These kids come from homes where they are hit and they don't respond to anything else." But that's even more reason to make schools a safe, civilized refuge where children can learn that there are better ways of getting along together and no one inflicts physical hurt on anyone else. Abused children often grow up to abuse their own offspring; schools could do far-reaching good by immersing them in other kinds of behavior.

What corporal punishment does teach children is that violence is acceptable by the strong against the weak and that hitting is an officially sanctioned way to resolve problems. It creates smoldering resentments that interfere with learning. It pushes some youngsters into a kind of chronic, macho rebellion against school, as evidenced by the fact that the same youngsters often are beaten repeatedly. It can lead to deep-seated psychological problems. Even decades later, many adults still remember fearing school because they dreaded the humiliation and hurt of being paddled, even if they never were.

That corporal punishment has great potential for harm is tacitly acknowledged by laws and regulations that supposedly govern its use in many states. Some states, for example, rule that children cannot be hit in the face. Some limit paddling to administrators, not teachers, and require that an adult witness be present. At least one requires that no other youngsters be present during the punishment, an admission of the humiliation involved.

A new Canadian study reviewed two decades of research on spanking and found not only that " study has found physical punishment to have a long-term positive effect, and most studies have found negative effects."

Depression, aggression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, drug and alcohol use, and "general psychological maladjustment." were among the problems seen in children who were spanked. As children who have been spanked become adults, they are more likely to become aggressive themselves since they have seen adults solving problems aggressively. According to the authors, "...virtually without exception, these studies found that physical punishment was associated with higher levels of aggression against parents, siblings, peers, and spouses."

There are a variety of mechanisms to explain these psychological changes. It is certain that physical punishment disrupts the important emotional connection between parent and child. In this way, spanking is not a one-time, isolated event. It changes the child's relationship with the parent.

Imaging studies have also shown some important changes in the brains of children who were punished physically. Decreases in the gray matter of the brain have been seen in regions connected to IQ. And the dopamine system that plays a role in drug addiction risk is altered in kids who were the subjects of physical punishment.
Luckily, studies have also shown that when parents are given help to stop physically punishing their kids, their kids' difficult behaviors also decrease. This suggests that not only is there a cause-and-effect relationship between parents' use of physical punishment and negative behaviors in kids, but that once parents stop using this form of discipline, kids' behaviors actually improve.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend the use of physical punishment on kids, since they say it is "the least effective way to discipline." More effective and healthier methods of discipline include timeouts, logical consequences, or behavior penalties. See the AAP website for recommendations on the best ways discourage bad behaviors in your kids and encourage the good ones.

Third Issue: The most 'disruptive' students are often the ones with mental disorders or trouble at home. 

The nature of corporal punishment is that it runs 100% on the 'stick' and not the 'carrot' end of the spectrum when it comes to altering behaviour. The types of students who most often trigger punishment in schools are those that have at the very least got ADD/ADHD but usually have more issues, perhaps are abused and/or neglected at home and 'act out' in school. If you only focus on scaring the crap out of them and encouraging them to perceive violence as a socially acceptable practise, they will most likely either become the worst bullies in the school or perhaps wait it out and act on the psychological damage in adulthood.

A 2008 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)/Human Rights Watch report found that corporal punishment in public schools is routine in many parts of the US, and that almost a quarter-of-a-million school children were subjected to this violent, degrading punishment in the 2006-2007 school year.3 Twenty states permit corporal punishment; in states where the practice is permitted, hundreds of school districts make routine use of it. Corporal punishment comes with risk of serious physical injury and lasting mental trauma. Studies show that beatings can damage the trust between educator and student, corrode the educational environment, and leave the student unable to learn effectively, making it more likely that she will drop out of school.

Students with disabilities—who are entitled to appropriate, inclusive educational programs that give them the opportunity to thrive—are subjected to violent discipline at disproportionately high rates. Students with disabilities make up 19 percent of those who receive corporal punishment, yet just 14 percent of the nationwide student population. Human rights law protects students with disabilities from violence and cruel and inhuman treatment, and guarantees them non-discriminatory access to an inclusive education. Furthermore, as President Obama noted when signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on July 24, 2009, US law has attempted to ensure that "children with disabilities were no longer excluded ... and then no longer denied the opportunity to learn the same skills in the same classroom as other children."4 Yet in countless US public schools, students with disabilities—who already face barriers to attaining a quality education—face physical violence that further discourages them from reaching their full potential.


Consent of voters and taxpayers

There is a major issue if you legalise this, from a logistical standpoint in a democracy. People are forced to pay tax, forced but in the case of democracy they consent via who they vote into power. If you genuinely make it become a mainstream punishment in public schools, you are forcing many citizens who are ethically opposed to corporal punishment to fund it against their will, though this won't be true if there's a party candidate who opposes it... Though, I don't think this is good regardless.

The world is moving very much away from corporal punishment but this is especially true in 'Western Society' which America is part of.

Round 2
As per the structure of this debate, R2 is limited to rebuttals. 

The structure of CON's argument is difficult to follow.  But generally, he discusses: (a) strategic and ethical issues with corporal punishment; and (b) taxpayer consent.  The gravamen of his case focuses on the first, however.   First, I address threshold issues.  Then, I respond to his argument.

Threshold Issues:

  1. This debate is about whether spanking/paddling should be allowed as a form of punishment in American public schools. 
  2. Thus, to win, CON carries the BOP to establish that spanking/paddling should NOT be allowed as a form of punishment in American public schools.  
  3. CON is correct that the spanking/paddling at issue in this debate is limited to only that which would be permitted by American law, either in American public schools located in states that allow it or akin to that level of force the law permits parents to utilize for the same purpose.  Here, the school is acting in loco parentis; the scope of disciplinary authority would be congruent with that of parents, absent statutory or policy-based restraint. 
  4. For the purposes of this debate, we should assume however that spanking/paddling would be carried out more along the lines of what you'd expect in Texas (e.g., Pampa ISD and others, see sources in R1) as opposed to something like out of American Horror Story.  

CON's Arguments:

  • Strategic/Ethical Issues:
    • CON asks whether students know why they would be punished. 
      • This is collateral to the issue of whether spanking/paddling should be permitted as a form of punishment because it goes to "how" such forms of punishment could be implemented as opposed to "whether" to implement them in the first place.  
      • But relevancy aside, the answer is yes.  When students are punished in American public schools, records of it are kept in various ways. 
        • Typically, in the form of a "referral" which is a document in which the student's infraction is recorded along with subsequent actions (if any) that are taken.  So, if a student interferes with another student's learning by, for example, shouting an obscenity in class, and that student was referred for spanking/paddling --- almost always at the hand of an administrator, and always in the presence of at least one other adult witness (according to the practice in Texas and Georgia) --- a "referral" detailing the time, place and date of the incident would be written.  Thereafter, the punishment would be recorded likely on the same document.  Students are given copies of these documents.  They are allowed to read them.  And often, students are required to have their parents sign referrals acknowledging their awareness of what occurred and what actions the school took in response.  
        • But even absent a referral, students are always told.  As a practice, here. 
    • CON asks what's best for the student.
      • That's a fair question; and the issue here is whether corporal punishment should be permitted, not required.  Permitting something and requiring something are not the same things.  
      • Typically, as is the case in Georgia and many areas of Texas (although not in Florida), parents are given the chance to "opt out" of their child being corporally punished; or "opt in" as it were.  The default option in those states does tend to be in favor of corporal punishment, however.  
      • This matters because regardless of whether it's an opt-in or opt-out system, parents have veto power.  So, if you're a grade-school student and your parent --- who should "know what's best" for you, or is at least recognized by the law as having that status --- does not want you to be subject to corporal punishment, e.g., spanking/paddling, they can veto.  
    • CON asks whether masochists/sadists will be "made worse" by spanking/paddling. 
      • I am unaware of, and CON has provided no evidence/data indicating that spanking fetishes are developed as a result of students having been subject to corporal punishment in public schools.  If he has such evidence, he should provide it. 
        • Spanking is a very common fetish, if not one of the most common according to the psychological literature, however; and its prevalence has increased generally since the public move away from spanking --- this suggests that the absence of spanking being used as a form of disipline is in fact what drives its fetishization. 
        • Further, the empirical literature on this subject I'm familiar with tends to associate sexual fetishism with other factors (e.g.,  Labrecque 2020). 
      • As to the "cycle of violence" point CON makes, there is no evidence that corporal punishment in public schools contributes to cyclical violence passed from generation to generation. 
        • But even if it did --- which it does not --- there remain other factors to consider, such as cyclical poverty and the school-to-prison pipeline created by the lack of discipline in schools and households alike (see R1 sources). 
        • The basic idea is that if kids don't have structure/disipline, they're doomed for life.  The current approach fails to provide that, and as a result the harms I outlined in R1 prevail.  What is proposed here is one way that some schools have broken that cycle. 
      • "Long-term positive effects" are clearly shown in the data.  For example, As Baumrind's analysis indicates, children with the highest optimism, academic achievement and self-esteem were spanked (see, e.g., Fuller 2015 at 311; and related Baumrind sources, as well as others from R1).  By spanking early, further punishment became less necessary later on and therefore indicating that future misbehaviour was averted.  
        • And the testimonial evidence supports.  As I established in R1, corporal punishment is a tried and true method that works. The empirical literature clearly links a more disciplined school climate with improved educational outcomes, especially in boys who tend to misbehave the most (Hermann 2019). 
        • Both students themselves and school administrators agree corporal punishment is effective, too.  I cited unrefuted evidence for each (e.g., CNN 2010, Miller 2020, WBCI 2019, Garcia 2017 and Henry 2012).  CON characterized them as a "minority," yet I never held them out as being representative.  What I said was that the trend against corporal punishment was reversing, as various schools increasingly are bringing corporal punishment back (e.g., Pampa ISD, in Texas).  
      • "Higher levels of Aggression, etc." are only seen when you shift the scope from "spanking" or "paddling" (i.e., legal corporal punishment) to "physical punishment," in general.  Note the scope shift:  from "spanking" or "paddling" to "physical" punishment; the latter is WAY broader than the former, which is why the correlation studies to which CON alludes purport to find a link between physical punishment and other woes.
        • Further to this point, nearly every single weak correlation study linking spanking to to some "harm" traces its roots to Gershoff, in one form or another (see R1).  But Gershoff's many "meta-analysies," and the entirety of her life's work fail to support that claim.  Gershoff is a quack; her "studies" are junk science, and I warned CON about this in R1.  Indeed, her own peers (e.g., Baumrind sources) criticize her findings' reliability. 
        • While Gershoff (and others) purports to be making claims about ONLY spanking, the data-sets from which she draws co-mingle spanking with beating with a stick, closed-fist punching, open-hand face slapping, beating with an electrical cord,  as well as hitting, punching and kicking that would leave identifiable bruises on a child's body (e.g., Fuller 2015, citing Baumrind) at 282-83, n.198 and throughout the article).
        • In fact, "in contrast to the inadequate...methods" of Gershoff, Baumrind et al. plainly and clearly demonstrate that when you focus only on spanking (i.e., reasonable corporal punishment, which is what this debate is about) causes no such lasting harms (see Fuller 2015 at 306-315 and all footnotes, including in particular those citing to Baumrind). 
      • Yet in fact, it turns out that when you ban spanking you have a counter-intuitive result, according to the data in, e.g., Sweden (American data says the same, btw.).    After Sweden banned spanking, child abuse rates increased almost 500% (Fuller 2015 at 269-70,  n.132).  Relatedly, Sweden's spanking ban (noted above) also ushered that country's single most significant increase in teenage criminality and violence in the 20th century (Fuller 2015 at 271-73).
    • The most disruptive students. 
      • CON posits that the most disruptive students are those with mental disorders or trouble at home.  That does not, however, mean that they are most likely to suffer any kind of acute harm as a result of being subject to corporal punishment at school; or even that they necessarily would be paddled or spanked.   
      • Nothing about this resolution prohibits schools from implementing policies that prohibit or restrict spanking/paddling against high-risk students, such as those who have mental disorders or who come from abusive households.  In fact, each of Texas, Florida and Georgia have such policies in place for exactly this reason. 
  • Taxpayer Consent:
    • As stated above, parents who don't want their kids to be corporally punished have opt-out rights; they can veto the school's right to spank/paddle their kid.  This option solves CON's identified harm relating to taxpayer consent.  

Round 2: rebuttals (and may introduce new evidence in support of such rebuttals).
This implies I am allowed to also rebuke Pro's rebuttals, not just his R1.

"Failed Status Quo"... As if the old status quo was better...

Something important in analysing Pro's arguments here is to appreciate that we have already tried corporal punishment as recently as just one generation ago in many countries (you could be brutally spanked and harmed in almost all non-social-democratic nations as recently as 1970s-1980s, it was only in the 90s that it properly became outlawed in the more empathetic and concerned societies, it is still legal in many parts of Asia but nations such as India are trying to make it socially unacceptable). The reason this is important to note is that we can compare the overall output and effectiveness of corporal punishment against newer systems, rather than just go 'status quo isn't flawless, let's revert because it will be better' as a reflex solution.

Let's actually look at the outcomes and side effects of corporal punishment vs other methods:

Research has also shown that more students of color and students with disabilities experience instances of corporal punishment more than their peers. The research shows that children who are beaten and abused are more likely to be prone to depression, low self-esteem and suicide. The simple fact that corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure is not part of any education curriculum indicates that educators at every level know that it has no place in the classroom. Discipline can and should be taught be example and non-physical consequences.

Most leading professional associations oppose corporal punishment in all its forms. Corporal punishment is not allowed in the military, mental institutions or prisons, either. 
Aside from the infliction of pain and the physical injuries which often result from the use physical punishments, these violent disciplinary methods also impact students' academic achievement and long-term well-being.[6] 

Harsh physical punishments do not improve students' in-school behavior or academic performance.  In fact, one recent study found that in states where corporal punishment is frequently used, schools have performed worse academically than those in states that prohibit corporal punishment.[16]  While most states demonstrated improvements in their American College Testing (ACT) scores from 1994 to 2008, "as a group, states that paddled the most improved their scores the least."[17] At the same time "the ten states with the longest histories of forbidding corporal punishment improved the most" with improvement rates three times higher than those states which reported frequent use of corporal punishment.[18]

Many children who have been subjected to hitting, paddling or other harsh disciplinary practices have reported subsequent problems with depression, fear and anger.[19]  These students frequently withdraw from school activities and disengage academically.[20] The Society for Adolescent Medicine has found that victims of corporal punishment often develop "deteriorating peer relationships, difficulty with concentration, lowered school achievement, antisocial behavior, intense dislike of authority, somatic complaints, a tendency for school avoidance and school drop-out, and other evidence of negative high-risk adolescent behavior."[21]  One Mississippi student interviewed for A Violent Education described the effects of corporal punishment on his attitude towards school:
  • "[Y]ou could get a paddling for almost anything. I hated it. It was used as a way to degrade, embarrass students. . . I said I'd never take another paddling, it's humiliating, it's degrading. Some teachers like to paddle students. Paddling causes you to lose respect for a person, stop listening to them."[22]
Corporal punishment places parents and teachers in positions where they may have to choose between educational advancement and students' physical well-being.  For instance, some parents who learn that their children are being struck at public school find themselves without recourse, unable to effectively opt-out from the practice, and unable to obtain legal or other redress when their children have been paddled against their wishes.  Ultimately some parents find that the only way they can protect their children from physical harm is to withdraw them from school altogether.[23]  Similarly, teachers who work in schools where corporal punishment is administered are often reluctant to send disruptive students out of the classroom because they are afraid the students will be beaten.[24] 

Moreover, a public school's use of corporal punishment affects every student in that school, including those who are not personally subjected to hitting or paddling.  The prevalent use of physical violence against students creates an overall threatening school atmosphere that impacts students' ability to perform academically.[25]  Often, children who experience or witness physical violence will themselves develop disruptive and violent behaviors, further disturbing their classmates' learning as well as their own.[26]
Corporal punishment is a destructive form of discipline that is ineffective in producing educational environments in which students can thrive. Rather than relying on harsh and threatening disciplinary tactics, schools and teachers should be encouraged to develop positive behavior supports (PBS), which have proven effective in reducing the need for harsh discipline while supporting a safe and productive learning environment.[27] The Positive Behavior for Safe and Effective Schools Act (H.R. 2597) would help states and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) create positive learning environments by allowing them to use Title I funds to develop PBS practices.  This bill would also require the Department of Education to provide assistance and support so that states may fully realize the potential of supportive and flexible behavior discipline practices. By abandoning ineffective and brutal disciplinary practices, and by encouraging the adoption of PBS methods, our nation can provide opportunities for all students to achieve academic success in a supportive and safe school environment.
HRW (other sources inside the quote)

In summary, this simultaneously supports a huge portion of my Round 1 while rebuking the idea that this ever would be better than the Status Quo.
  1. Students learn to embrace violence and see it as a healthy part of life, particularly those who are most volatile who inevitably will render punishments more often (and are more sensitive to it too).
  2. Students struggle to psychologically stay sane and focused on their work, since lowkey they're terrified as a baseline emotion. If the general mood is fear and anxiety, they won't be as efficient at their work without health side effects at best (academically speaking) or loss of output in grade attainment at worst (academically speaking).
  3. Troublemakers will have even more incentive to commit truancy and avoid school at all costs, especially if they're also victims of bullying. Those bullies will in turn be more hostile and violent to them if the dare to snitch as the bullies will not only think violence is acceptable but will have received a sadistic punishment they won't forgive the victim for making them experience.
It's a very vicious cycle. The entire atmosphere of the school is unpleasant and brutally 'conform or suffer the consequences'. This stifles the atmosphere required for creativity and highly passionate work of any kind, students will learn to fear school rather than enjoy it.

Now, I can rebuke most of the rest of Pro's case by retiterating the point of how it's vulnerable students that end up the most targeted and affected by corporal punishment.

Students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately subjected to corporal punishment, hampering their access to a supportive learning environment.  According to the Department of Education, while African Americans make up 17.1 percent of public school students nationwide, they accounted for 35.6 percent of those who were paddled during the 2006-2007 school year.[8] In A Violent Education and Impairing Education, two joint reports published by the ACLU and HRW detailing the effects of corporal punishment in public schools, interviewees noted the disproportionate application of corporal punishment.[9] [10]
Evidence shows that students with disabilities are also disproportionally subjected to corporal punishment. The Department of Education has reported that although students with disabilities constitute 13.7 percent of all public school students, they make up 18.8 percent of those who are subjected to corporal punishment.[11]  In many of these cases, students were punished for exhibiting behaviors related to their disabilities, such as autism or Tourette's syndrome.[12]  The effects of corporal punishment on students with disabilities can dramatically impact their behavior and hamper their academic performance. In Impairing Education, parents and grandparents of students with disabilities noted the changes in behavior and barriers to educational achievement stemming from the use of corporal punishment.[14][15] 

Hitting any student should be an unacceptable practice, but the disproportionate application of corporal punishment further undermines the educational environment for minority groups and students with disabilities.[15]  A federal prohibition on corporal punishment in public schools is necessary to protect students from the discriminatory impact and the academic harms which it brings.       

What motive is there to endure this bad parts of corporal punishment for the good?

None, at all.
Round 3
This debate was about whether spanking/paddling should be allowed as a form of punishment in American public schools.  To win this debate, all I had to do was establish that it should be permitted.  CON had to establish that it should never be permitted.

These are the voting issues:

  • Why PRO wins this debate:
    • 1.  I established that the status quo has failed; being defined by by short and long term harms to students.
      • In many states, spanking/paddling is not permitted.  There, student conduct violations are addressed only by one or more of referrals, in-school or out-of-school suspension.
        • I cited unrefuted evidence that referrals, in-school and out-of-school suspension fail to deter student conduct violations in American public schools.
          • I cited unrefuted evidence that referrals or suspension-based approaches to student punishment worsen student misbehavior. 
        • CON's R3 point about student discipline in Asia in fact supports my point, if one considers the relative academic successes of students in Asia versus the United States.   
          • In my opinion, Asian countries take corporal punishment much too far, but the results in terms of their academic performance speaks for itself. 
          • Even still, this is insufficient to refute anything I've said.  
      • I cited unrefuted evidence that in the short term, referrals or suspensions worsen student outcomes in school, including in their academic  performance; and result in greater student delinquency and substance abuse.
      • I cited unrefuted evidence that in the long term, referrals and suspensions contribute to substantially worsened student outcomes in life and to communities. 
        • In particular, the academic literature clearly reflects the link between referrals or suspensions and:
          • Declines in student lifetime educational attainment;
          • Higher adult criminal activity;
          • Higher probability of future arrest; and 
          • Higher probability of incarceration.
        • I cited unrefuted evidence that minorities and the mentally challenged in particular are the most likely to be the most harmed by the current status quo, and are without question the most frequently suspended. 
          • Their life outcomes are especially acutely hurt by the current approach to student discipline.   
          • CON's R3 point about how minorities are more likely to be subject to corporal punishment fails to consider the greater harm caused by their being suspended from school, in the short and long terms.  
          • CON fails to establish, and indeed did not even try, to dispute that minorities are already disadvantaged in the status quo; and thus the harm to which he points is not only non-unique, it is worse in the CON world.  
        • I cited unrefuted evidence that the status quo has created an achievement gap between boys and girls, whereby the current approach to discipline leaves boys behind, sustaining the worst student performance and life outcomes.
    • 2. I established that spanking/paddling was a reasonable alternative, and should therefore be permitted as a form of punishment in American public schools.
      • I cited unrefuted evidence (including without irony the very underlying data-sets that CON later pointed to, e.g., Gershoff) that the all the that purport to talk about "harms" that are "associated" with spanking/paddling in any context are junk science.  
        • I cited unrefuted evidence that the public move against spanking/paddling was based on specious correlation studies devoid of evidence that spanking actually causes any harm short or long term.
          • But even if you bought that spanking DID cause harm, you're weighing weak correlations cited by CON against the empirical evidence that the status quo's harms are worse.   
          • After all, I cited unrefuted evidence that, in contrast to methodologically flawed research (e.g., Gershoff) and pop-psychology opposing spanking, less spanking is directly linked to more child abuse and more teen violence; while children who are spanked tend to have the highest levels of optimism, academic achievement and highest self-esteem. (Fuller 2015, 264-315; see also Larzelere & Baumrind 2010).
          • So even if you take CON at his word --- which you should not do --- I am still winning this debate, because the sole impacts he cites are non-unique.  
        • And to the extent he can point to any harm, the causal link between referrals/suspensions and short/long term harms is much clearer than any specious association identified in CON's methodologically flawed correlation studies.   
          • In direct contrast, Kids who are spanked performed better in school, were more involved and optimistic in terms of their future, compared with those never spanked (CNN 2010).
          • CON's R3 point about ACT scores conflates "children who have been subject to hitting, paddling or other [unspecified] harsh disciplinary practices" report "problems with depression, fear and anger."   
          • There, CON compares apples to eggplants.  The data-set on which that set of conclusions is based focused primarily on children who were subject to actual physical abuse in their homes by their parents, as opposed to spanking/paddling as a form of discipline in schools. 
          • It also fails to consider the degree of infliction; as in, of course a kid whose parent beat them daily would have mental health issues, and such kids were included in CON's data-set.  But that is NOT the punishment mechanism advocated for by PRO.  Not even close.  
        • Again, I cited unrefuted evidence that spanking/paddling is effective, based on the experience of students, teachers and school administrators. 
        • Further, I cited unrefuted evidence that spanking/paddling improves student conduct and academic performance, also based on the experience of students, teachers and school administrators. 
    • 3. CON indisputably failed to establish that spanking/paddling should not be permitted as a form of punishment in American public schools.
      • CON focused on ethical issues.  I am winning the ethical issues point because:
        • (a) it is irrelevant to the debate, oriented to questions of "how" rather than "whether it should be at all";
        • (b) even if implementation issues were relevant, spanking/paddling can be carried out under circumstances that prevent the harms CON merely speculated about, based on the experiences of both Texas and Georgia (see R2);  and
        • (c) CON made no argument tending to support that Texas/Georgia have not adequately addressed the concerns he raised about implementation.
      • CON touched on what's best for students.
        • Maintaining the status quo is clearly not what's best for students, based on the unrefuted evidence I established (see R1).
        • As I established in R1-R2, what's best for any student must be understood in the context of his or her short and long-term interests, which DO NOT favor maintaining the status quo.
        • What is best for students is improving their academic performance and student conduct, which spanking/paddling accomplishes according to the unrefuted evidence I cited in R1-R2. 
      • CON alluded to cyclical violence/higher aggression.
        • I established in R1-R2 that the status quo more directly and proximately contributes to cyclical violence, adult criminality and aggregated societal harm.
        • CON has no evidence whatsoever that spanking/paddling entail the same harms maniesting at either the individual or societal levels.
        • Nor could he, because the data clearly indicate otherwise.  In fact, banning spanking/paddling is itself associated with increased harm/abuse/criminality against children and commited by tenagers, (see R2 (Sweden)). 
    • Thus, you are voting for PRO on:
      • Status quo's failure, in terms of dealing with student conduct violations 
        • Short-term and long-term harm to students and society
        • Harm to minorities and how to prevent
        • Minorities & Achievement gap
      • Spanking/paddling is a reasonable alternative.
        • Ain't broke/don't fix
          • Evidence says spanking works, as confirmed by student/teacher/administrator experiences; only junk/fake science says otherwise
          • Evidence says spanking causes no lasting harm, as confirmed by student/teacher/administrator experiences; only junk/fake science says otherwise

Spanking/paddling has the following flaws:
  1. It forces the one undergoing it to experience so intensely that they remember the negative experience much more than the reason why they're there. This is supported by my Round 2 rebuttals that centered around how poorly it gas any actual positive long-term effect at making nicer, kinder, happier and healthier students.
  2. Ir normalises violence+humiliation and teaches the toyng that an adult unleashing rheir rage this way is someone to respect and aspire to be like. The long-term damage and increased aggression or masochism in the punished is plentiful.
  3. The type of students who don't conform best or react most predictably to corporal punishment are the disabled, idsordered and/or trouble-at-home neglected and abused type of students. Those most vulnerable are those harshest hit (pun intended).
  4. The taxpayers won't all consent tonthe abuse, that's for sure. This is to be allowed and envouraged in public schools, as per the description of this debate. That means the schools with the poorest students/pupils who may have the most trouble at home are going to be abusing the students who need and respond best to kinder repercussions ans rewards (this is physical and emotional abuse disguised as a legitimate punishment). These kids and adolescents in rough areas have it bad enough at home and on the streers.