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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.

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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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As mamas, we naturally become the magic-makers for our families. We sing the songs that make the waits seem shorter, dispense the kisses that help boo-boos hurt less, carry the seemingly bottomless bags of treasures, and find ways to turn even the most hum-drum days into something memorable.

Sometimes it's on a family vacation or when exploring a new locale, but often it's in our own backyards or living rooms. Here are 12 ways to create magical moments with kids no matter where your adventures take you.


1. Keep it simple

Mary Poppins may be practically perfect in every way, but―trust us―your most magical memories don't require perfection. Spend the morning building blanket forts or break out the cookie cutters to serve their sandwich in a fun shape and you'll quickly learn that, for kids, the most magical moments are often the simplest.

2. Get on their level

Sometimes creating a memorable moment can be as easy as getting down on the floor and playing with your children. So don't be afraid to get on your hands and knees, to swing from the monkey bars, or turn watching your favorite movie into an ultimate snuggle sesh.

3. Reimagine the ordinary

As Mary says, "the cover is not the book." Teach your child to see the world beyond initial impressions by encouraging them to imagine a whole new world as you play―a world where the laundry basket can be a pirate ship or a pile of blankets can be a castle.

4. Get a little messy

Stomp in muddy puddles. Break out the finger paint. Bake a cake and don't worry about frosting drips on the counter. The messes will wait, mama. For now, let your children―and yourself―live in these moments that will all too soon become favorite memories.

5. Throw out the plan

The best-laid plans...are rarely the most exciting. And often the most magical moments happen by accident. So let go of the plan, embrace the unexpected, and remember that your child doesn't care if the day goes according to the schedule.

6. Take it outside

There's never a wrong time of year to make magic outside. Take a stroll through a spring rainstorm, catch the first winter snowflakes on your tongue, or camp out under a meteor shower this summer. Mother Nature is a natural at creating experiences you'll both remember forever.

7. Share your childhood memories

Chances are if you found it magical as a child, then your kids will too. Introduce your favorite books and movies (pro tip: Plan a double feature with an original like Mary Poppins followed with the sequel, Mary Poppins Returns!) or book a trip to your favorite family vacation spot from the past. You could even try to recreate photos from your old childhood with your kids so you can hang on to the memory forever.

8. Just add music

Even when you're doing something as humdrum as prepping dinner or tidying up the living room, a little music has a way of upping the fun factor. Tell Alexa to cue up your favorite station for a spontaneous family dance party or use your child's favorite movie soundtrack for a quick game of "Clean and Freeze" to pick up toys at the end of the day.

9. Say "yes"

Sometimes it can feel like you're constantly telling your child "no." While it's not possible to grant every request (sorry, kiddo, still can't let you drive the car!), plan a "yes" day for a little extra magic. That means every (reasonable) request gets an affirmative response for 24 hours. Trust us―they'll never forget it.

10. Let them take the lead

A day planned by your kid―can you imagine that? Instead of trying to plan what you think will lead to the best memories, put your kid in the driver's seat by letting them make the itinerary. If you have more than one child, break up the planning so one gets to pick the activity while the other chooses your lunch menu. You just might end up with a day you never expected.

11. Ask more questions

Odds are, your child might not remember every activity you plan―but they will remember the moments you made them feel special. By focusing the conversation on your little one―their likes, dislikes, goals, or even just craziest dreams―you teach them that their perspective matters and that you are their biggest fan.

12. Turn a bad day around

Not every magical moment will start from something good. But the days where things don't go to plan can often turn out to be the greatest memories, especially when you find a way to turn even a negative experience into a positive memory. So don't get discouraged if you wake up to rain clouds on your beach day or drop the eggs on the floor before breakfast―take a cue from Mary Poppins and find a way to turn the whole day a little "turtle."

Mary Poppins Returns available now on Digital & out on Blue-ray March 19! Let the magic begin in your house with a night where everything is possible—even the impossible ✨

After a pregnancy that is best described as uncomfortable, Jessica Simpson is finally done "Jess-tating" and is now a mama of three.

Baby Birdie Mae Johnson joined siblings Ace and Maxwell on Tuesday, March 19, Simpson announced via Instagram.

Simpson's third child weighed in at 10 pounds, 13 ounces.

Birdie's name is no surprise to Jessica's Instagram followers, who saw numerous references to the name in her baby shower photos and IG stories in the last few weeks.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to experts.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

At this moment in time, Simpson and her husband, former NFL player Eric Johnson, are probably busy counting little fingers and toes , which is great news because it means Simpson's toes can finally deflate. She's had a terrible time with swollen feet during this pregnancy, and was also hospitalized multiple times due to bronchitis in her final trimester.

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We're so glad to see Simpson's little Birdie has finally arrived!

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Spring is officially here and if you're looking for a way to celebrate the change in the season, why not treat the kids to some ice cream, mama?

DQ locations across the country (but not the ones in malls) are giving away free small vanilla cones today, March 20! So pack up the kids and get to a DQ near you.

And if you can't make it today, from March 21 through March 31, DQ's got a deal where small cones will be just 50 cents (but you have to download the DQ mobile app to claim that one).

Another chain, Pennsylvania-based Rita's Italian Ice is also dishing up freebies today, so if DQ's not your thing you can grab a free cup of Italian ice instead.

We're so excited that ice cream season is here and snowsuit season is behind us. Just a few short weeks and the kids will be jumping through the sprinklers.

Welcome back, spring. We've missed you!

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The woman who basically single-handedly taught the world to embrace vulnerability and imperfection is coming to Netflix and we cannot wait to binge whatever Brené Brown's special will serve up because we'll probably be better people after watching it.

It drops on April 19 and is called Brené Brown: The Call to Courage. If it has even a fraction of the impact of her books or the viral Ted talk that made her a household name, it's going to be life and culture changing.

Announcing the special on Instagram Brown says she "cannot believe" she's about to be "breaking some boundaries over at Netflix" with the 77-minute special.

Netflix describes the special as a discussion of "what it takes to choose courage over comfort in a culture defined by scarcity, fear and uncertainty" and it sounds exactly like what we need right now.

April 19 is still pretty far away though, so if you need some of Brown's wisdom now, check out her books on Amazon or watch (or rewatch) the 2010 Ted Talk that put her—and our culture's relationship with vulnerability and shame—in the national spotlight.

The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown

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If Marie Kondo's Netflix show got people tidying up, Brown's Netflix special is sure to be the catalyst for some courageous choices this spring.

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My husband and I recently had a date night that included being away from our son overnight for the first time since he was born three years ago (but don't let your heads run away with a fantasy—we literally slept because we were exhausted #thisiswhatwecallfunnow). It was a combination of a late night work event, a feeling that we had to do something just for the two of us, and simple convenience. It would have taken hours to get home from the end of a very long day when we could just check into a hotel overnight and get home early the next day.

But before that night, I fretted about what to do. How would childcare work? No one besides me or my husband has put our son to bed, and we have never not been there when he wakes up in the morning.

Enter: Grandma.

I knew if there was any chance of this being successful, the only person that could pull it off is one of my son's favorite people—his grandmother. Grammy cakes. Gramma. We rely so much on these extended support systems to give us comfort and confidence as parents and put our kids at ease. Technically, we could parent without their support, but I'm so glad we don't have to.

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So as we walked out the door, leaving Grandma with my son for one night, I realized how lucky we are that she gets it...

She gets it because she always comes bearing delicious snacks. And usually a small toy or crayons in her bag for just the right moment when it's needed.

She gets it because she comes with all of the warmth and love of his parents but none of the baggage. None of the first time parent jitters and all of the understanding that most kids just have simple needs: to eat, play and sleep.

She gets it because she understands what I need too. The reassurance that my baby will be safe. And cared for.

She gets it because she's been in my shoes before. Decades ago, she was a nervous new mama too and felt the same worries. She's been exactly where we are.

She gets it because she shoos us away as we nervously say goodbye, calling out cheerfully, "Have fun, I've got this." And I know that she does.

She gets it because she will get down on the floor with him to play Legos—even though sometimes it's a little difficult to get back up.

She gets it because she will fumble around with our AppleTV—so different from her remote at home—to find him just the right video on Youtube that he's looking for.

She gets it because she diligently takes notes when we go through the multi-step bedtime routine that we've elaborately concocted, passing no judgment, and promising that she'll follow along as best as she can.

She gets it because she'll break the routine and lay next to him in bed when my son gets upset, singing softly in his ear until she sees his eyelids droop heavy and finally fall asleep.

She gets it because she'll text us to let us know when he's fallen asleep because she knows we'll be wondering.

She gets it because just like our son trusts us as his mom and dad, Grandma is his safe space. My son feels at ease with her—and that relaxes me, too.

She gets it because when we come home from our "big night out" the house will be clean. Our toddler's play table that always has some sort of sticky jelly residue on it will be spotless. The dishwasher empty. (Side note: She is my hero.)

She gets it because she shows up whenever we ask. Even when it means having to rearrange her schedule. Even when it means she has to sleep in our home instead of her own.

She gets it because even though she has her own life, she makes sure to be as involved in ours as she can. But that doesn't mean she gives unsolicited advice. It means that she's there. She comes to us or lets us come to her. Whenever we need her.

She gets it because she takes care of us, too. She's there to chat with at the end of a long day. To commiserate on how hard motherhood and working and life can be, but to also gently remind me, "These are the best days."

After every time Grandma comes over, she always leaves a family that feels so content. Fulfilled by her presence. The caretaking and nourishment (mental and food-wise) and warmth that accompanies her.

We know this is a privilege. We know we're beyond lucky that she is present and wants to be involved and gets it. We know that sometimes life doesn't work out like this and sometimes Grandma lives far away or is no longer here, or just doesn't get it. So we hold on. And appreciate every moment.

As Grandma leaves, I hug her tight and tell her, "I can't thank you enough. We couldn't have done this without you." Because we can't. And we wouldn't want to.

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