Although it is not high on the list of political priorities, the Department of Education under the Biden administration is calling for the end of corporal punishment in school. The federal agency sent a letter to governors and other education officials about their concerns.
Corporal punishment may include spanking, hitting, paddling, or other forms of physical punishment.
Miguel Cardona, the agency’s cabinet secretary, said it is “unacceptable” that corporal punishment remains legal in 23 of the U.S.’s 50 states. Cardona wrote that corporal punishment unfairly targets students with disabilities and non-white students, “Despite years of research linking corporal punishment to poorer psychological, behavioral, and academic outcomes, tens of thousands of children and youth are subjected to beating and hitting or other forms of physical harm in school every academic year, with students of color and students with disabilities disproportionately affected.”
The cabinet official added that corporal punishment is “associated with higher rates of mental health issues, including mood, anxiety, and other personality disorders; drug and alcohol use disorders; higher rates of aggression, antisocial behavior, and other externalizing problems; and lower cognitive ability relating to verbal capacity, brain development, and academic achievement.”
For context, the Department of Education issued similar statements during the Obama administration in 2014 and 2016, but not during the Trump administration.