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During the 2011 to 2012 school year, American public school officials in 19 states used corporal punishment 167,000 times.


We don’t know if that is 167,000 kids, or a smaller group of kids that received multiple punishments. What we do know is that at least 167,000 times in one school year, a school official hit a child. This punishment took place even in light of ample evidence suggesting that corporal punishment can increase aggression and hinder learning.

What follows is a primer for parents who want to better understand which states permit corporal punishment, which students are most likely to receive physical punishment, and the surprising heroes attempting to ban corporal punishment in their states.

The states that allow corporal punishment

Most of the debate surrounding corporal punishment focuses on public schools. That’s because all but two states – New Jersey and Iowa – allow corporal punishment in private schools.

The number of states allowing corporal punishment in public schools depends on which report you read. A report by the Society for Research in Child Development claims that 31 states, as well as the District of Colombia, specifically ban corporal punishment in public schools. The U.S. Department of Education put the numbers a bit differently, with only 28 states banning corporal punishment and 22 allowing it.

The discrepancy is explained by the extenuating circumstances allowed for in some state laws. For example, in Maine, corporal punishment was banned in 1975, but according to state law, school officials are permitted to use force against children when a child presents a danger to him or herself, or others. Some researchers count Maine and other states like it as permitting corporal punishment, even though the states themselves reported zero cases of corporal punishment in the nation’s most recent survey of corporal punishment.

A similar discrepancy occurs when counting the states that allow corporal punishment. Some put the number at 15. Others put the number at 19. That’s because some states specifically permit corporal punishment, while others simply have no legislation regarding corporal punishment.

No matter how researchers count, all agree that most of the corporal punishment in the country is concentrated in a handful of states. Just seven states: Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, and Mississippi, account for 80 percent of corporal punishment cases in the U.S. Texas and Mississippi alone count for 35 percent of corporal punishment cases.

Which kids get hit?

Corporal punishment is not evenly distributed across all groups.

A 2009 Human Rights Watch report found that students with disabilities make up 14 percent of the population, but 19 percent of the population of kids subjected to corporal punishment, meaning that they are physically disciplined at a higher rate than their peers.

A report in The Atlantic found that black students, who make up 16 percent of the public school population, accounted for 35 percent of corporal punishment cases, meaning that they were three times more likely to be paddled than their white peers.

The rates of corporal punishment for males are even more disproportional than those for race. Boys are about four times as likely as girls to receive physical discipline. In some districts, that rate is five times as many.

Can parents opt out of corporal punishment for their children?

In some school districts where corporal punishment is still used, parents are given the opportunity to opt out of physical punishment, usually by filing an annual form. In other school districts, parents are notified of a child’s misbehavior and then given the opportunity to approve or disapprove of corporal punishment. In some states, like Missouri, not all districts allow parents to opt out.

Even in states where parents do have the opportunity to opt out, they can feel as though they have no choice to let school officials hit their children. Shana Perez, whose five-year-old was paddled in 2016, highlights the problems of giving parents the ability to “opt out” of paddling by opting into other penalties such as out-of-school suspension.

Perez had already been arrested for truancy after keeping her sick son home from school for too many days, and so believed that she would be arrested if she did not allow him to be paddled for spitting at teachers while running around in the bus line. A choice between your child being hit by the principal and you being put in jail (and thus taken away from your child) is hardly a choice.

Paddling is offered as an impossible “choice”

Paddling is often an impossible choice for students who, much like their parents, also feel that they cannot “opt out.”

Many proponents of corporal punishment will argue that students always have a choice. At Robbinsville High School in North Carolina, principal David Matheson offers students a choice: paddling or in-school suspension. Most students, Matheson asserts, choose the paddling so that they don’t miss school. That choice is often pointed to by educators and legislators as proof that they’re not hurting kids. Kids are choosing their punishment, and many opt for the paddling.

In a debate over a 2017 Arkansas State Senate bill to ban corporal punishment, Senator Alan Clark used his own son as an example, saying that he would have had “fire in [his] eyes” if his son had been suspended for three days instead of paddled. Senator Joyce Elliott, who sponsored the bill, asserted that Clark had been “forced into a false choice” between suspension and paddling.

Legislators like Elliott, as well as researchers across the country, are arguing for a third choice: non-punitive disciplinary methods.

Kids working to change the system

2017 has not been a good year for legislators looking to stop corporal punishment. This year, proposed bans have been defeated in Arkansas, Colorado, and Louisiana.

However, it has been a good year for students looking to corporal punishment for an education…in the legislative system.

In Arizona, high school student Taylor Garman was inspired by the Shana Perez’s viral video. She contacted State Senator Don Shooter about her research, and the two are now working to craft a bill banning corporal punishment.

Alex Young, a student from Louisville, Kentucky, led a group of students to write a bill for the Kentucky Youth Assembly. When his proposed corporal punishment ban passed the assembly, he took it to state representative Jim Wayne, who helped Young revise the bill and introduced it in February 2017. Although the bill was defeated, Young and his fellow students are still busy contacting state Republicans in order to find a co-sponsor who will help them re-introduce the bill in 2018.

You and your kids can read the existing corporal punishment laws for each state and territory here. If you’re unpleasantly surprised about what you find, maybe it’s time to follow in Garman’s and Young’s footsteps and contact your local representatives.

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We've had some struggles, you and me. In my teens, we were just getting to know each other. It was a rocky road at times, like when people referred to you as "big boned." I was learning how to properly fuel you by giving you the right foods. How to be active, to keep you strong and in good shape. I wish I knew then what I do now about you and what a true blessing you are. But that's something that has come with the gift of motherhood.

In my 20's, we became more well-acquainted. I knew how to care for you. After I got engaged, we worked so hard together to get into "wedding shape." And, looking back now, I totally took that six pack—okay, four pack—for granted. (But I have the pictures to prove it.)

Now that I'm in my 30's (how did my 30's happen so fast, btw?) with two kids, I'm coming to terms with my new postpartum body.

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If there are two things a mama is guaranteed to love, it's Target plus adorable and functional baby products. Target's exclusive baby brand Cloud Island has been a favorite destination for cute and affordable baby clothing and décor for nearly two years and because of that success, they're now expanding into baby essentials. 🙌

The new collection features 30 affordable products starting at $0.99 and going up to $21.99 with most items priced under $10—that's about 30-40% less expensive than other products in the market. Mamas can now enjoy adding diapers, wipes, feeding products and toiletries to their cart alongside clothing and accessories from a brand they already know and love.


The best part? The Target team has ensured that the affordability factor doesn't cut down on durability by working with hundreds of parents to create and test the collection. The wipes are ultra-thick and made with 99% water and plant-based ingredients, while the toiletries are dermatologist-approved. With a Tri-Wrap fold, the diapers offer 12-hour leak protection and a snug fit so parents don't have to sacrifice safety or functionality.

So when can you start shopping? Starting on January 20, customers can shop the collection across all stores and online. We can't wait to see how this beloved brand expands in the future.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Many people experience the "winter blues," which are often worst in northern climates from November to March, when people have less access to sunlight, the outdoors and their communities. Another 4% develops Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of clinical depression that often requires formal treatment.

If you have the winter blues, you may feel “blah," sad, tired, anxious or be in a worse mood than usual. You may struggle with overeating, loss of libido, work or sleep issues. But fear not—it is possible to find your joy in the winter, mama.

Here are eight ways to feel better:

1. Take a walk

Research has shown that walking on your lunch break just three times per week can reduce tension, relax you and improve your enthusiasm. If you are working from 9 to 5, the only window you have to access natural sunlight may be your lunch hour, so head outside for a 20 minute brisk but energizing walk!

If you are home, bundle up with your kids midday—when the weather is often warmest—and play in the snow, go for a short walk, play soccer, race each other, or do something else to burn energy and keep you all warm. If you dress for the weather, you'll all feel refreshed after some fresh air.

2. Embrace light

Research suggests that a full-spectrum light box or lamp, which mimics sunlight, can significantly improve the symptoms of the winter blues and has a similar effect to an antidepressant. Bright light at a certain time every day activates a part of the brain that can help restore normal circadian rhythms. While light treatment may not be beneficial for everyone (such as people who have bipolar disorder), it may be a beneficial tool for some.

3. Plan a winter trip

It may be helpful to plan a getaway for January or February. Plan to take it very easy, as one research study found that passive vacation activities, including relaxing, "savoring," and sleeping had greater effects on health and well-being than other activities. Engaging in passive activities on vacation also makes it more likely that your health and well-being will remain improved for a longer duration after you go back to work.

Don't overschedule your trip. Relax at a beach, a pool, or a cabin instead of waiting in long roller coaster lines or visiting packed museums. Consider visiting or traveling with family to help with child care, build quiet time into your vacation routine, and build in a day of rest, recovery, and laundry catch-up when you return.

4. Give in to being cozy

Sometimes people mistake the natural slowness of winter as a problem within themselves. By making a concerted effort to savor the slowness, rest and retreat that complement winter, you can see your reduction in activity as a natural and needed phase.

Research suggests that naps help you release stress. Other research suggests that when your brain has time to rest, be idle, and daydream, you are better able to engage in "active, internally focused psychosocial mental processing," which is important for socioemotional health.

Make a "cozy basket" filled with your favorite DVDs, bubble bath or Epsom salts, lemon balm tea (which is great for “blues,") or chamomile tea (which is calming and comforting), citrus oils (which are good for boosting mood), a blanket or a favorite book or two. If you start to feel the blues, treat yourself.

If your child is napping or having quiet time in the early afternoon, rest for a full 30 minutes instead of racing around doing chores. If you're at work, keep a few mood-boosting items (like lavender spray, tea, lotion, or upbeat music) nearby and work them into your day. If you can't use them at work, claim the first 30 minutes after your kids are asleep to nurture yourself and re-energize before you tackle dishes, laundry, or other chores.

5. See your friends

Because of the complex demands of modern life, it can be hard to see or keep up with friends or family. The winter can make it even harder. While you interact with your kids throughout the day, human interaction with other adults (not just through social media!) can act as a protective layer to keep the winter blues at bay.

Plan a monthly dinner with friends, go on a monthly date night if you have a partner, go to a book club, get a drink after work with a coworker, visit a friend on Sunday nights, or plan get-togethers with extended family. Research suggests that social interactions are significantly related to well-being.

Realize that given most families' packed schedules, you may need to consistently take the lead in bringing people together. Your friends will probably thank you, too.

6. Get (at least) 10 minutes of fresh air

A number of research studies have shown positive effects of nature on well-being, including mental restoration, immune health, and memory. It works wonders for your mood to get outside in winter, even if it's just for 10 minutes 2 to 3 times per week. You might walk, snowshoe, shovel, go sledding or go ice-skating. If you can't get outside, you might try these specific yoga poses for the winter blues.

7. Add a ritual

Adding a ritual to your winter, such as movie night, game night, hot chocolate after playing outside, homemade soup on Sundays, or visiting with a different friend every Saturday morning for breakfast, can add beauty and flow to the seemingly long months of winter. Research has suggested that family rituals and traditions, such as Sunday dinner, provide times for togetherness and strengthening relationships.

8. Talk to a professional

Counseling, which helps you identify the connections between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, can be extremely helpful for the winter blues (especially when you are also experiencing anxiety or stress). A counselor can assist you with identifying and honoring feelings, replacing negative messages with positive ones, or shifting behaviors. A counselor may also help you indulge into winter as a time of retreat, slowness, planning, and reflecting. You may choose to use the winter to get clear on what you'd like to manifest in spring.

The opposite of the winter blues is not the absence of the winter blues—it's taking great pleasure in the unique contribution of a time of cold, darkness, retreat, planning, reflecting, being cozy and hibernating. Nurturing yourself and your relationships can help you move toward winter joy.

Weary mama,

You are incredibly strong. You are so very capable.

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