Just another Mississippi school paddling
Reported to PTAVE, January 21, 2007

In January 2004, at an elementary school in Mississippi, Johnny was sent by his classroom teacher to the Principal's office to be punished. Johnny, who was 10-years-old at the time, did not know the reason for the punishment.

Johnny after paddling

Photo supplied by Johnny's family and used here with their approval.

He describes the instrument used on him as "a big solid wooden paddle." He remembers the first three blows of the paddle and clenching his teeth while trying not to cry. He says that the Principal, Mr. C., said he was going to bring him back for more. The next thing he remembers is being on the floor and regaining consciousness while Mr. C and a teacher were standing over him. He does not remember if he blacked out as result of the final blow of the paddle or because he hit his head after being knocked to the floor. Johnny landed face down on a thinly-carpeted concrete surface. The school nurse was not on duty at the time.

Johnny's mother was called to the school. She came immediately and drove him straight to emergency room where he was examined, X-rayed and given a CT scan. He had no fractures, but suffered serious bruising.

The school board refused to compensate Johnny's family for their medical bills nor accept any responsibility for the events at school. The family contacted several lawyers, all of whom told them nothing could be done and declined the case. Mr. C. continues as Principal at the time of this writing.

Since the incident, Johnny has experienced recurring nightmares. His parents have noticed he exhibits more anger and rage, and seems, in his mother's words, to have "lost his childhood." To this day, he doesn't know the reason for his beating.

Mississippi Division of Family and Children's Services, Child Protective Services (CPS) says the following about punishment-related injuries:

"In regard to physical abuse, it is important to understand that although parents, guardians and custodians are legally allowed to utilize corporal punishment, they are not allowed to cause bruises... Any evidence of such will constitute abuse..." Source: www.mdhs.state.ms.us/fcs_prot.html

The hospital where Johnny was examined failed to report the incident to CPS.


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