PADDLING: A practice that belongs in the dark ages
A letter to the editor by The Rev. Thomas E. Sagendorf, September 27, 2006


September 27, 2006

Letter to the Editor
Dayton Herald News

Dear Editor:

I am aware of the national news event in which a 5-year-old boy was paddled in a Dayton school and now, in terror, doesnít want to return to school. Having twin grandchildren of the same age who began school last week, I have a keen sense of how appalling and sick is this event.

The practice of paddling is a long-outdated exercise that has been abandoned by quality school systems throughout the country. In fact, the practice is outlawed in 28 of our fifty states. In addition, physical punishment in schools has been forbidden in all European countries and is even disappearing in the Third World. The reason is simple. Doing violence to children is not only ineffective but also counterproductive in establishing a strong educational environment. Itís a practice that belongs in the dark ages. Very dark ages!

Paddling in schools provides a convenient haven for teachers and administrators who are incompetent, violent, vindictive and even emotionally disturbed. The results can be long term. Students who are so abused can suffer severe emotional problems and may show up later in life as violent and destructive members of society. Itís safe to say that many adults in our penal system were hit repeatedly by parents and teachers under the guise of discipline.

Having grown up in a school where the principal seemed to enjoy terrorizing and brutalizing children with his paddle, I know how off base it is to posit any positive value in this practice. As a kid, I feared going to school every day. And, even then, I realized that our principal was a coward and fool (as are all adults who get their kicks from hitting kids). His paddle spoke more about his fragile ego than keeping order in our school.

Surely the citizens of Dayton, TN are more conscientious than to subject their children to this kind of disgraceful child abuse!

Yours truly,

The Rev. Thomas E. Sagendorf
United Methodist Clergy
Hamilton, Indiana


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