In Search of the Famous Fine Line
Eric Perlin's response to a paddling-apologist who
claims there is a fine line between punishment and abuse

You say there is a fine line between punishment and abuse, and that good teachers know exactly where that line is. Well, could you tell me where that line is? I've been wanting to know for years but no one has been willing to tell me. I'll take a guess that three swats is discipline and four swats is abuse. If my guess is accurate, then the following story could be a true one:
Fourth grade teacher Mr. Jones returned to his classroom after stepping out for a few minutes to find the entire class misbehaving. He had warned them that if anyone left their seat without permission, they would be paddled, and all 24 of his students had done just that. So, Mr. Jones paddled each student.

The first twelve students received four swats each. When Mr. Jones realized how long this collective paddling was taking, he decided to save a bit of time by giving only three swats each to the remaining twelve students.

The students who had received four swats were severely traumatized. When they grew up, they had recurring nightmares of the paddling. Of this group, two wound up in prison, four became alcoholics, three were committed to mental hospitals, and three committed suicide.

However, the twelve students who received only three swats rather than four, learned to be more respectful to authority and to strive to do well in school. These twelve students grew up to be model citizens, achieved lucrative careers, and experienced no adverse effects whatsoever from the paddling. End of story.

If the above sounds ridiculous, it means that there really is no clear-cut "fine line" and that a little bit of poison is still poison. However, if the "fine line" really exists, then the above story should be entirely believable. You be the judge.

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