Corporal punishment in schools: Is it good discipline or bad sex?
By Jordan Riak, October 2008

There is one aspect of corporal punishment which is rarely mentioned, but should be: its sexual side. Some people experience a profound need to dominate a defenseless victim, including the need to inflict pain and terror. This compulsion surely has its psychological roots in their own early experience of cruelty at some critical stage of their development.

Such people have been known to seek employment in schools that practice corporal punishment, a.k.a. "paddling," because those places give them free rein to indulge this perverse appetite. In an apparent attempt to guard against such impropriety, many schools require paddling to be done in the presence of a witness. But no one has ever explained what the witness is supposed to be witnessing or preventing, and there is nothing to prevent the paddler and the witness from being accomplices in an act of sexual battery. Team paddling only protects the adult perpetrators and their employer, not the child. For the child, who is a non-consenting, unequal party in the act, stimulation of the buttocks, painful or otherwise, is also sexual. It’s a felony when done to an unwilling adult.

In light of these dangers, why is corporal punishment of children legal? Why is it even applauded and encouraged in some circles? The answer isn’t complicated. People who hit children find affirmation in the fact that many others do it too. “After all,” they reason, “since it's a long-established practice, and part of official school policy, what can be so wrong?” This mutual reinforcement among child abusers calms doubts and assuages troubled consciences. One hand washes the other.

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