To the Editor:
Spanking or paddling a child is an act of violence, and violence, no matter how you attempt to justify it, causes emotional damage.
When children live in fear, their healthy futures are compromised, though they may appear "well-behaved" on the outside.
Some readers support spanking because teachers need to feel safe. Even ignoring the ironic omission of the students' need to feel safe, school-inflicted violence incites older students to lash out in anger at their teachers.
If this were not reason enough to abolish these practices, a large number of children's behavioral issues have underlying health-related causes. It is difficult to get school support services (occupational therapy, counseling, etc.) for these children.
The list of supported conditions is very short, while the number of behavior-influencing disabilities is quite large. Many special-needs children aren't identified in the early years of schooling. Many children are being spanked, paddled and shamed by the teachers they are supposed to trust because they have disabilities.
Rather than using fear as an educational tool, parents and educators need to learn to employ understanding, insight, discussion, trust, patience, love, respect, modeling of the preceding qualities, specific knowledge of each child, engaging the individual in meaningful activities and, when all else fails, willingness to recognize their own shortcomings and utilize professional resources in the community.
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