Saturday, May 8, 2010

In-school corporal punishment is an extremely bad idea

Wait a holy crap filled minute! You mean there are parents who want their children paddled at school? I do not keep up with the corporal punishment trends, so I plead stupid. I assumed that all public schools in the U.S. had banned paddling. Suffice it to say I was somewhat surprised when I read that “nostalgic” parents in Temple, Texas want the return of paddling. They believe a couple of whacks on a student’s backside cheeks will force them to act respectfully in the classroom.

When I attended elementary school I witnessed several of my classmates getting whipped with a strap. Fortunately, none of us girls fell victim to the strap. One afternoon we watched in horror as our homeroom teacher whipped a male student so long we were scared for him. I ran home and told my mother what happened. The next day she went to the school to talk to the teacher, warning her to never whip me. She told my teache if there was a problem with me in the classroom, she should send home a note. She would do the punishing. The boy’s mother never came to the school. We felt so sorry for him.

The teacher and her sister, who taught at the near-by high school, were known for punishing students by whipping them with a strap. Their favorite statement to misbehaving students was: “I will knock you into the middle of another week.” Both of the sisters were top heavy and unattractive.

Maybe my young eyes were fooling me, but I saw anger in the whacks landing on my classmate's behind. He did not always complete his homework; many times he was the class clown. But the punishment we witnessed was uncalled for. We did not call it paddling. We called it whipping, a half notch away from a beating. We did not know the technical term was “corporal punishment.”

The US Supreme Court declared in 1977 that paddling was lawful in schools. Thirty states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico were included in that number. Ohio outlawed the practice in 2009. In 2002, almost 1.4 of all corporal punishment took place in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama. It should be noted that Black males were most likely to get paddled as opposed to females and White males.

Today when parents spank their own children they are asking for trouble. The law labels them child abusers, and they are hauled off to jail and fined.  The time they spend in jail depends on the kids’ story of alleged abuse. Kids have been told to call 9-1-1 if they are hit, whipped or beat by their parents. I have heard kids threaten to call the police if they cannot have their way. This kiddy style blackmail has consequences for parents and children, many of whom are teenagers. They do not want to be disciplined, or told what to do. Children can curse and hit parents with no consequences to suffer. The law is more on the kids side than upholding the parents right to discipline their youngsters.

Temple, Texas parents are asking for a huge problem they may not be prepared to accept. They want schools to take over the responsibility of raising and disciplining their children, and educating them at the same time. Paddling a student in 2010 can present a dangerous situation for the person who does the paddling. Students do not take kindly to getting hit by their parents, let a teacher. They may associate paddling with disrespect. Of course incessant teasing will follow the paddling. This can cause anger in the student to swell,  manifesting itself in a dangerous, deadly way. This is especially true if the student seeks revenge against the teacher. Angry students do not think in terms of cause and affect and consequences.

Problems that I have with a teacher or principal administering corporal punishment are:

(A) Who trained this person to paddle a student?

(B) What will cause the paddler to increase, or decrease the paddling?

(C) What if the paddler is angry, taking the anger out on a student?

(D) Will someone be in the room with the paddler and the student?

(E) How quickly will the students' parents be notified of the paddling?

(F) What behavior will require corporal punishment?

(G) Will a female paddle a female student?

(H) Will a male paddle a male student?

(I) What about psychologists claiming that hitting makes a child violent? Does that assessment only apply to parents hitting their kid?

And lastly, the most dreaded subject no one wants to discuss: Race.

(A) Will white parents be unhappy if their kid is paddled by a black teacher or principal.

(B) Will black parents be equally unhappy if a white teacher or principal paddles their child?

(C) Will corporal punishment be administered evenly, with neither black, white, Hispanic or other students getting paddled the most?

The same parents who requested that the school paddle their kid will be the first parents to file a law suit if their child complains about getting hit too hard. Paddling is a bad idea. It should be completely outlawed in the school system. Respect should be taught in the home. Discipline should be practiced in the home. Schools are for teaching. Teachers cannot teach and be parents to unruly children who refuse to control their behavior.

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