Sparing the rod: JPS to bring back spanking?
The Clarion-Ledger, July 14, 2008

The Lamar County School District has removed corporal punishment as a disciplinary tool, calling it "antiquated," but at least one Jackson School Board member believes the capital's public schools should return to the practice.

"I haven't taken it off the table," JPS Board member Sollie Norwood said of his proposal last year to bring back spanking.

JPS stopped using corporal punishment in 1991 after determining it was ineffective in preventing students from misbehaving.

Twenty-eight states have banned spanking in schools. It is banned in every country in Western Europe, most countries in Eastern Europe, and in Canada, Japan, South Africa and New Zealand, among others.

But a majority of Mississippi public schools paddle, according to the state Department of Education. Mississippi schools reported using corporal punishment 47,727 times in the 2006-07 school year. But it could be higher.

National education experts say it doesn't work, that violence begets violence and affects behavior in a negative way.

Most U.S. school districts agree: 94 of the 100 largest school districts in the U.S. ban striking students (For more, see:

But a lot of Mississippians remember that if they got a licking at school, they got one at home, too, and it did affect their behavior in a positive, lasting way.

In 1995, JPS considered bringing back corporal punishment. It sent out a questionnaire to gauge public sentiment.

Of those who responded, better than 65 percent of parents said yes.

Even more revealing, perhaps, more than 87 percent of school staff said yes.

Majorities of both JPS and staff said they believed there were disciplinary problems in the schools and that the threat of swift, sure physical punishment would act as a corrective and deterrent. But the board declined to act.

With Jackson looking for a new superintendent, the issue could come up again. Superintendent Earl Watkins announced in April he would not seek to renew his contract when it expires in June 2009.

On Tuesday, the board is scheduled to discuss the progress of the committee it created last summer to study the effectiveness of all of the district's discipline tactics.

But it's doubtful Jackson would return to the old ways. In the intervening years, we've become more of a litigious society. A policy would have to be carefully crafted.

It would have to be part of an overall strategy with paddling as a last resort, when all other options have failed. Any policy should also allow parents opposing corporal punishment to opt out, using suspension from school as the alternative.

In your voice
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JordanRiak wrote:

There is one factor in the school corporal punishment debate that has been overlooked or avoided -- the sexual factor. I believe it warrants inclusion. Parents should ask themselves, "do I know who's spanking my child?" The following anecdote, based on actual events, is illustrative.

MALE TEACHER: You know the rules. The dress code is clear. Girls' skirt hemlines may not be higher than midway on the kneecap. If I can see more than half a kneecap, you're in violation. And I can see more than half a kneecap. So, you have a choice. It's either a three-day in-school suspension -- that means zeros on all tests, class work and homework during those three days -- or I can just close the office door and you can bend over and take three quick swats with the paddle. The choice is yours. Will it be swats or suspension? Come on. Make up your mind. Don't keep me waiting all day.


Jordan Riak


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