Paddle (spanking)

For other uses, see paddle (disambiguation)

A spanking paddle is an implement used to strike a person on the buttocks. The act of striking a person with a paddle is known as "paddling". A paddling may be for punishment (normally of a student at school), or as an initiation or hazing ritual, or for erotic purposes.

A paddle has two parts: a handle and a blade. Most paddles are designed to be held with one hand, but a larger paddle may be designed to be held with two hands.[1] The blade is typically 3 to wide, 1/2 inch thick, and 1 to in length.

In the great majority of cases, the paddle is aimed at the recipient's buttocks; rarely, the back of the thighs might also be targeted.[2]

Spanking paddles are made of wood, or occasionally plastic.[3] Paddles used for school punishments may be roughly hewn from commonly available wood.[4] The paddles used for fraternity and sorority initiation ceremonies are often professionally made and engraved with organizational symbols and slogans.[5] Paddles used for erotic stimulation are sometimes made of leather.[6]


History of the paddle

The paddle may have been originally invented for the punishment of slaves as a way of causing intense pain without doing any permanent damage to the recipient.[7] It is not only in former slave states that the paddle has been used in schools. It is not known why or exactly when it became the normal implement for corporal punishment in US schools.

Scope of use

Paddling is mainly used in many parts of the United States as a means to discipline misbehaving school students. Paddling is also used in some homes to punish children.[8][9] The results of a national household survey indicate that paddling is a discipline technique that 10% of parents are "very likely to use".[10]

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. Some schools allow the use of paddles that have holes in them,[11] while other schools prohibit the use of paddles that have holes.[12][13] A paddle that has numerous holes through the wide surface of its blade[14] encounters less air resistance as it is swung through the air. Such a paddle can therefore be swung faster and can, on impact, cause higher levels of pain.

Paddling can damage the capillaries in a person's skin. Such damage may result in internal bleeding and the formation of a hematoma, a collection of blood outside the blood vessels. A hematoma (or bruise) caused by a paddling may be visible on a person's skin "even a month later".[15] Whether or not particular bruises constitute evidence of "serious injury" and "abuse"[16] or "child maltreatment"[17] may be litigated and settled in a court of law.

There have been cases in the past when paddling was administered incorrectly or excessively. Partly in order to avoid this danger, in the majority of U.S. schools, paddling is more strictly regulated than in the past, many schools publishing detailed rules in their student handbooks.[18] It is usually a requirement that a professional witness be present. Nowadays there is often a maximum of three swats (or "licks" or "pops"). In the past, paddlings of up to seven licks were not unknown. Practice has gradually moved from paddlings in the classroom or hallway to paddlings administered out of the sight of other students, typically in the principal's office. "Hallway" paddlings could typically be seen by other students, administrators or even outsiders visiting the school.

In 1981 a 17-year-old student claimed bleeding wounds as a result of a school paddling.[19] It was alleged that the assistant principal who had administered the punishment had held and swung the paddle with two hands. In order to prevent such claims, nowadays a school district might require the handle of a spanking paddle to be "just large enough for a normal one-hand grip".[20] Or a rule might provide that the handle shall not be more than long (just large enough to be held with one hand).[21]

In 1982 a nine-year-old student was hit with a wooden paddle that was cracked.[22] This causing a bleeding wound that became a permanent scar. To avoid this, nowadays some school districts have adopted rules which prohibit using paddles that have cracks in them. For example, the policies of Bloomfield School District provide that, "Corporal punishment will be administered by spanking the buttocks of a student with a flat-surfaced paddle which is smoothly sanded and has no cracks or holes and that will cause no more than temporary pain and not inflict permanent damage to the body."[23]

A paddling is typically administered with two or more school employees present. The student may be ordered to bend over a chair[24] or desk and, in that position, receive the prescribed number of strokes of the paddle. Paddling usually occurs in an office but may sometimes occur in a hallway. In the vast majority of cases the punishment is delivered across the lower seat of the student's trousers or skirt.

In order to avoid allegations of sexual abuse, many school districts nowadays require that a female teacher be present during the paddling of a female student.[25] A school might also recommend "that female staff members administer corporal punishment to female students (middle and high school)".[26] Or a school board might prescribe that a "female principal(s) or designee shall spank or paddle female students" and that a "male principal(s) or designee shall spank or paddle male students."[27]

As of September 2009, 21 states allow corporal punishment in public schools. See School corporal punishment for further information.

Social discipline

  • Some university or college traditions enforce(d) rules by paddling offenders. In the University of Missouri until World War II,[28] 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, as part of their hazing rituals. Due to modern anti-hazing laws and regulations, this has declined. This entire subculture is peculiar to North America.

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 spanking pyramid or paddle machine. A paddle machine can be used in conjunction with a spanking bench. Numerous celebrities, including Jessica Jaymes, Jennifer Krum, Haydn Porter, Tabitha Stevens and Victoria Zdrok, have mounted Howard Stern's spanking bench to be paddled by his paddle machine, the "Robospanker".[29]

See also


  1. Image of a very large spanking paddle that was designed to be held with two hands.
  2. "The act of punishment is to be conducted in such a manner that the area of contact will lie between and include the buttocks and the back of the thigh". Student Handbook (2009), p. 19. Tipton County Schools, Texas.
  3. "Corporal punishment shall be administered using an instrument (paddle) made of wood or plastic of reasonable width, length, and thickness. (The paddle shall not be more than 1/4" x 3" x 18".)" Policy On Line: Student Discipline, p. 2. Tyler Independent School District, Texas.
  4. Image of a roughly hewn schoolhouse paddle.
  5. Image of a decorated sorority paddle (in use).
  6. Leather paddles.
  7. Scott, George Ryley (1938). The history of corporal punishment: a survey of flagellation in its historical, anthropological, and sociological aspects, 2nd Edition, T. W. Laurie, London.
  8. Dad Found Not Guilty In Paddling Case. WLWT, News 5, Cincinnati, Ohio. February 17, 2010.
  9. In 2005, a father in Minnesota used a paddle to strike his son 36 times. Minnesota Supreme Court, May 30, 2008.
  10. C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital (2010). "Speak or Spank? More Parents Choose Reasoning Than Physical Discipline". National Poll on Children's Health, Vol. 9, Issue 4, April 16, 2010.
  11. Human Rights Watch (2008). A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in US Public Schools, p. 84.
  12. "A paddle made of wood with no holes or splinters shall be used in administering corporal punishment..." Rapides Parish School Board (2005). Parish Policy Handbook and Student Code of Conduct.
  13. "The punishment shall consist of no more than three swats on the buttocks with a smooth surface paddle free of holes and/or cracks." Calhoun County Schools. 2006-2007 Student Handbook and Code of Student Conduct.
  14. Image of a spanking paddle with 10 holes through the wide surface of its blade.
  15. Waters, Rob (2009). Corporal Punishment and Trauma.
  16. In re: C.B., J.B., Th.B., & Ti.B., North Carolina Court of Appeals, August 15, 2006.
  17. Arkansas Department of Human Services v. Shelly Holman, Arkansas Court of Appeals, October 4, 2006.
  18. Corporal punishment regulations of individual schools or school districts (external links to present-day school handbooks) at World Corporal Punishment Research.
  19. Testimony of Shelly S. Gaspersohn at a meeting of the United States Senate's Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice, October 17, 1984.
  20. Santa Rosa County School District (2009). Code of Student Conduct, p. 59.
  21. Alexander City Schools (2010). Student/Parent Information Guide and Code of Conduct, 2009-2010 School Year, p. 47.
  22. Garcia v. Miera. United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, April 28, 1987.
  23. See the fifth paragraph of section J-4661 of the Policy Manual and Administrative Regulations of the Bloomfield School District, New Mexico.
  24. "He [a school principal] told her [an 18-year-old student] to bend over a chair with her buttocks raised." Sacks, Deana Pollard (2009). "State Actors Beating Children: A Call For Judicial Relief". University of California Davis Law Review, 42, p. 1167.
  25. The Burke County Public Schools paddling policy provides that, "In the event of corporal punishment being administered to a female student, a female teacher shall at all times be present".
  26. St. Johns County School District (2010). Student Code of Conduct 2010-2011, p. 34.
  27. Chapel Hill ISD Board Amends Corporal Punishment Policy. Television station KYTX, April 22, 2009.
  28. 'Paddle Lines' at David R. Francis Quadrangle, "Mizzou Traditions" web page.
  29. Image of Haydn Porter kneeling on a spanking bench and being paddled by a paddle machine during A Spanking New Year, the January 4, 2007 episode of The Howard Stern Show.