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Dr Stacey Patton

Stacey Patton, Ph.D.

  • Media, Journalism, Film & Communication
  • School of Communications


Dr. Stacey Patton is an award-winning journalist, author, historian and nationally recognized child advocate whose research focuses on the intersections of race and parenting in American life, child welfare issues, education, corporal punishment in homes and schools, and the foster care and school-to-prison pipelines.  Her writings on race, culture, higher education, and child welfare issues have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC News, Al Jazeera,, NewsOne, Madame Noire, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.  She has appeared on ABC News, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and Democracy Now.  

Dr. Patton is the author of That Mean Old Yesterday, Spare the Kids: Why Whupping Children Won't Save Black America, and the forthcoming books, Strung Up: The Lynching of Black Children in Jim Crow America, and Not My Cat, a children's story.  She is also the creator of a forthcoming 3-D medical animation and child abuse prevention app called "When You Hit Me."  

Education & Expertise


African American History

Rutgers University


New York University


Race and Childhood

As a nationally-recognized child advocate, Dr. Patton travels the country delivering keynotes and professional trainings focused on combating racial disparities in child abuse cases, criminal prosecutions for child abuse, foster care placements, the over prescribing of psychotropic medications to children of color in foster care, the school- and foster care-to-prison pipelines, corporal punishment in public schools, diversion and restorative justice programs. She works as an intermediary between social service and law enforcement agencies seeking to improve services to communities of color.

Dr. Patton also provides workshops for youth in care, and those aging out, with a primary focus on enhancing their communications and conflict-resolution skills, and developing strategies to help them prepare for productive lives. Her trainings have reached thousands of children and professionals since 2010. For her efforts, in 2016 the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children bestowed her with the Outstanding Service and Advancement of Cultural Competency in Child Maltreatment Prevention and Intervention Award.

She earned her Ph.D. in African American history from Rutgers University. Her dissertation, “Why Black Children Can’t Grow Up: The Construction of Racial Childhood in America, 1880-1954,” focuses on how the acceleration of Black children’s maturity into perceived adulthood is a core feature of anti-black racism both institutionally and socially. She examines how the racialization of the life stages of the child – embryonic development, birth, infancy, adolescence, and puberty – were seized by medical practitioners, psychologists, social scientists, educators, child welfare and juvenile justice professionals who used their respective disciplines to promote discriminatory polices targeted at Black children. Those policies indelibly shaped Black parents’ sometimes harmful counterintuitive discipline practices, which explain how African American children have come to experience disproportionately high rates of abuse and fatalities in our contemporary culture.



Visual Journalism

Interactive Editing

Multimedia Storytelling

Digital Media Literacy

Related Articles

Selected Publications

Creative Works or Campaigns

When You Hit ME – an interactive 3D medical animation app designed to help pediatricians, clinicians and child welfare professionals teach parents about the biological harms of hitting children.

Articles – Refereed (print or e-Journals)

“The First Mark of Pain.” Toward A Methodological Reorientation of Social Theory, Race and Corporal Punishment in American Life.  Sociology Compass, 2021.

Other General Articles

Selected Coverage of Higher Education Issues

Historians Face New Pressures to Track Where Their Ph.D.’s Work, The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 12, 2012.

Black Studies: “Swaggering Into the Future,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 12, 2012.

From Graduate School to Welfare, The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 6, 2012. Who’s Afraid of Black Sexuality? The Chronicle Review, December 3, 2012.

Some Say It’s Time to Put A Warning Label on Graduate School, The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 9, 2012.

“I’m the Biggest Man On Campus”: Academia Can Be a Challenging Place for Overweight Professors, Vitae—The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 3, 2014.

On the Internet, Nobody Knows You’re the Wrong Professor, Vitae – The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 2, 2014.

As College of Charleston’s President Speaks on Confederate Flag, Faculty Question His Timing and Message, The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 26, 2015.

Rachel Dolezal Case Leaves a Campus Bewildered and Some Scholars Disgusted, The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 17, 2015.

Daring to Speak of Black Women. The Chronicle Review, July 6, 2015.

Selected National Media Commentary

“Montclair’s Hidden History.” The New York Times, October 14, 2007.

“Why Blacks Aren’t Embracing Occupy Wall Street.” The Washington Post, Nov. 16, 2011.

“A Plea to Let N.J. Adoptees Find Themselves.” New Jersey Star-Ledger, May 22, 2011.

“Some Blacks See Discipline As A Duty. The NAACP Should Not Agree.” The Washington Post, June 22, 2012.

“A Video Survey of Police Interactions: Inequality in Black and White.” The, September 6, 2014.

“Understanding Black America and the Spanking Debate.” BBC News Magazine, September 20, 2014.

“What It Really Means To Hit A Child.” Al Jazeera America, September 24, 2014.

“In America, Black Children Don’t Get To Be Children.” The Washington Post, November 26, 2014.

“Why Is America Celebrating the Beating of a Black Child?” The Washington Post, April 29, 2015.

“What Happened In South Carolina Is A Daily Risk For Black Children.” The Washington Post, October 28, 2015.

“Sorry, ‘Deplorables’: Being Called Racist Doesn’t Mean You’re Being Oppressed.” The Washington Post, September 15, 2016.

“Stop Beating Black Children.” The New York Times, March 10, 2017.

“Don’t Be a Fast Girl” — How Hitting Your Daughter Can Trigger Early Puberty – Mutha Magazine, March 4, 2017.

“’I'll Bust You In the Head Till the White Meat Shows’: Stand-up comedy, black families and corporal punishment.” Salon, March 25, 2017.

“Turning H&M’s Racist Image Around on White Kids Won’t Fix Anything.” The Washington Post, January 12, 2018.

“Arming Teachers Would Put Black and Latino Kids In Danger.” The Washington Post, February 27, 2018.

“We can’t ignore race in the tragic story of Devonte Hart and his white adoptive mothers.” The Washington Post, April 6, 2018.

“There’s no cost to white people who call 911 about black people. There should be.” The Washington Post, May 16, 2018.

“Charleston’s apology for slavery is just empty symbolism.” The Washington Post, June 25, 2018.

“When black students are beaten in school – and black educators are to blame.” The Washington Post, February 20, 2019.

“There’s no point responding to Trump’s race-baiting. He won’t stop.” The Washington Post, July 30, 2019.

“In A Warning Against Spanking, Some Pediatricians See an Attack on Black Families.” The New York Times, August 27, 2019.

“Don’t be fooled by seemingly good cops kneeling at protests – it’s a stunt.”  TheGrio, June 4, 2020.

“White people are speaking up at protests.  How do we know they mean what they say?” The Washington Post, June 2, 2020.

“Police say deaths of Black people by hanging are suicides.  Many Black people aren’t so sure.” The Washington Post, June 22, 2020.

“Grinch Scaring Black children for fun and photo ops is actually traumatizing.” TheGrio, December 21, 2020.

“Police berating boy, 5, spotlights abuse and neglect of Black children.” TheGrio, March 29, 2021.

“Cher’s George Floyd tweet of white fantasy is part of a dangerous pathology.” TheGrio, April 6, 2021.

“The foster care system and others failed Ma’Khia Bryant – and black kids like her.” TheGrio, April 23, 2021.

“Ma’Khia Bryant and how funerals for young Black lives have become public spectacle.” NewsOne, May 6, 2021.

“Black Children Are Not Being Killed Because They Are ‘Adultified;’ They’re Murdered Because They’re Black.” Madame Noire, June 3, 2021.

"TikTok confession of alleged lynching recalls history of Black trauma and white lies," TheGrio, September 18, 2021.

“The Neglect of 4 Texas Brothers Proves That the Village It Takes To Raise A Black Child Is the Same Village That Stands By And Watches Them Die.” Madame Noire, November 24, 2021.

Kyle Rittenhouse Is Proof That White Women Birth White Supremacy While Black Mothers Birth Its Victims," MadameNoire, November 4, 2021.

"Justice Amy Barrett Thinks Adoption In Lieu Of Abortion Is A Fairy Tale, But It’s Not To Millions Of Black Moms And Adoptees," MadameNoire, December 3, 2021.

“A Year Later, This Black Reporter Recalls Being Caught Up in the Siege On Capitol Hill,” Madame Noire, January 6, 2022.

"Judah’s Revenge: A Young Girl Resists Slavery By Killing Massa’s Children," MadameNoire, March 16, 2022.

“Racing Against Time”: The Quest To Hold Carolyn Bryant Donham Accountable For Emmett Till’s Lynching, NewsOne, July 6, 2022.

"Was It Necessary To Rape ‘The Woman King’? Must Black women be victims of violation or degradation for them to be motivated as patriots and heroes?" NewsOne, September 25, 2022.

“A Wisconsin district debates the effects of terminating school police,” Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, November 14, 2022.

"Corporal Punishment: It’s Time To Admit That Beating Kids Isn’t The Solution To Crime," NewsOne, January 18, 2023.

"America Loves To Watch A Good Lynching: Tyre Nichols Is Proof," MadameNoire, February 3, 2023.


That Mean Old Yesterday – A Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007.

Spare The Kids: Why Whupping Children Won’t Save Black America. Beacon Press, March 2017.

Strung Up: The Lynching of Black Children in Jim Crow America.  Beacon Press, forthcoming.

Not My Cat (a children's book). Simon & Schuster, forthcoming Spring 2024.

Book Chapters, Reviews and Forwards

Book Chapters

“How Right-Wing Media Outlets Are Fighting Real Diversity in Academe,” in Presumed Incompetent Volume II, edited by Yolanda Flores Niemann, Gabriella Gutierrez y Muhs, and Carmen G. Gonzalez. Colorado State University Press, April 2020.

“Rethinking the ‘Culture Defense’ in American Child Abuse Cases,” in The Legacy of Race for Children: Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, edited by Margaret C. Stevenson, Bette L. Bottoms, and Kelly C. Burke. Oxford University Press, July 2020.

“The Children of Children: Why the Adultification Thesis is a Misguided Trap for Black Children and Families,” Trust Kids!” Stories on Youth Autonomy and Confronting Adult Supremacy, edited by Carla Bergman. AK Press, November 2022.

Book Reviews

Fierce Angels: The Strong Black Woman in American Life and Culture by Sheri Parks and Behind the Mask of the Strong Black Woman: A Voice and the Embodiment of a Costly Performance by Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant in Women’s Review of Books, January/February 2011 Issue.

Reasoning From Race: Feminism, Law, and the Civil Rights Revolution by Serena Mayeri, in Women’s Review of Books, November 2011 Issue.

Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia

edited by Gabriella Gutierrez y Muhs, Yolanda Flores Niemann, Carmen Gonzalez, and Angela Harris, in Women’s Review of Books, August 2013 Issue.

The Third Pillar of Slavery: A Review of Ebony and Ivory: Race, Slavery and the Troubled History of America’s Universities by Craig Steven Wilder in Women’s Review of Books, January 2014 Issue.

Raising Government Children: A History of Foster Care and the American Welfare State by Catherine E. Rymph, in Women’s Review of Books, Spring 2018 Issue.

Professional Newsletters and Reports

Corporal Punishment in Black Communities: Not an Intrinsic Cultural Tradition But Racial Trauma. Insights into the historical roots of African parenting. Journal of the American Psychological Association, April 2017.

The State of Racial Disparities in Charleston County, South Carolina 2000-2015 prepared for The College of Charleston Race and Social Justice Initiative, 2017.