Would you let a teacher paddle your child for misbehaving, like talking back? What about your high-school kid, for cheating on a test? That’s the latest hot button issue, ever since a high profile case put a spotlight on corporal punishment in schools.

The debate was sparked after a 15-year-old Texas girl got caught letting another student copy her homework. As punishment, her mother consented to her daughter being paddled by the vice principal. But when her daughter came home with welts and bruises, the mother was outraged.

Now the whole country is fired up about the issue. Supporters say that corporal punishment motivates kids to be on their best behavior, and there’s nothing as effective.

But critics point to studies that show that corporal punishment has zero effect on behavior. Not to mention loads of downsides. Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff from the University of Texas has analyzed numerous studies on corporal punishment. And she says the more kids are spanked, the more they act out. And other studies show children who receive regular physical punishment grow into violent adults, because they think violence is acceptable.

Another downside of corporal punishment? It shrinks brainpower! A University of New Hampshire study found that kids who were spanked had lower IQs than kids who weren’t, up to 5 points!

And some teachers who use corporal punishment are so rough that they’re considered abusive – and kids have suffered blood clots, muscle damage and blisters.

Right now, corporal punishment is legal in 19 states. But there are plenty of countries where it’s outlawed – not just at school, but even in the home! The US Congress is now considering banning corporal punishment in all schools.