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Journal of Public Management & Social Policy

Abstract

Corporal punishment in schools has been criticized for many reasons related to lower student achievement, delinquency, and mental health, but is still legal in 19 states. Attitudes towards corporal punishment have been linked to political leanings, fundamentalist religion, socioeconomic status, and rurality. In this study, I test whether political culture and voting patterns are predictive of the legality and frequency of corporal punishment use in schools, utilizing data from the Office for Civil Rights. Independent of median household income, educational attainment, state demographics, and the share of Evangelical Protestants, states with more Republican votes are more likely to legalize school corporal punishment. However, the main driver of the frequency of corporal punishment use is the prevalence of evangelical Protestants in the state.

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