Spankings with a paddle, or corporal punishment as it is described at most schools, is not a new method of student discipline, and Mississippi has one of the nationís highest rates of its use. In the past year there have been 57,953 cases of corporal punishment in 110 of the stateís 152 school districts according to the state Department of Education.
An 11-year-old is now seeking $500,000 in a lawsuit against the Greenwood Public School District, claiming he was severely paddled. His attorney said there are photos showing deep bruises and suggested the child may have suffered kidney damage. Just last month, the guardian of a 6-year-old filed another $500,000 lawsuit against the Leflore County School District for such paddlings.
Unarguably, paddling a child to the point of organ damage is inappropriate, if not brutal. No one can blame the parents for seeking legal action, though suing a school district for half a million dollars is a bit excessive for a bruised bottom.
To me, that is only an example of parents using their kidís misfortunes as an opportunity to make a lot of money.
Iím not saying they should not have taken any action in regards to this matter. It just makes sense to confront the teacher who administered the punishment and discuss it instead of suing a school board for a ridiculous sum of money.
Of course the matter of corporal punishment in of itself is a completely different discussion. Should it be outlawed or should it continue to be enforced? Now, Iíve been paddled several times over the years, both at school and at home and Iím okay. Hell, I think corporal punishment should be enforced. Spare the rod and spoil the child.
Iím tired of hearing from parents that they will never hit their child. I believe you hit someone out of anger and spank a child for reasons of punishment. I agree that it should only be used as a last resort when a stern warning or session in timeout is ineffective. I also agree that the child must understand why he or she is being punished before theyíre actually paddled.
I think parents overestimate the lasting effects of corporal punishment and forget the simple reason that it exists in the first place. For one must realize that once children make the decision to do wrong, they invite the punishment upon themselves.
Itís not done out of anger, but out of respect for them to learn the difference between right and wrong. We give them the choice between the easy way and the hard way of doing things. Sadly, sometimes they choose the latter.
Zero tolerance for weapons and violence is the standard that should apply to everyone in educational settings. Teachers included.
To those who argue that the teacher's paddle is not really a weapon, but rather a legitimate teaching tool, I suggest they try including one with their carry-on luggage when boarding an airplane, or try entering a courtroom with one. They'll be stopped in their tracks, and for good reason. Make no mistake: beating schoolchildren on their pelvic area with a wooden board causes more problems than it corrects — if it corrects any at all. It does for a child's development exactly what wife beating does for a marriage. Were that not the case, teacher-training programs would include instruction in the "correct method" for hitting students.
What corporal punishment does accomplish is to degrade the teaching profession, drive good people away, and make the teaching field a safe haven for the dangerously unfit. Its net effect on schools is a negative one. The more that schools indulge in paddling, the higher the dropout rate, along with all the social ills that follow, e.g., gang activity, addiction, mental health problems, unenployment, etc.
The time is long over due for our lawmakers and education policy makers to apply the zero-tolerance rule universally. When paddlers complain, as some inevitably will, they should be advised to look beyond their classroom walls and see how schoolchildren are managed violence free throughout the civilized world. They should look and learn from the 30 states where corporal punishment in schools is forbidden by law. If they can't learn, they can't teach. The only remedy then is for them to pack up their weapons and move on. Surely, they can find more suitable employment elsewhere, away from children. Far away.
Jordan Riak, October 27 2009
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