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Spare the rod and spoil the child?
April 18, 2010 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Instead of letting corporal punishment fall out of fashion or banning it outright (like the majority of areas in the US have done) a small Texas city has brought back paddling and it sounds like it's working just fine. Is this a trend we can expect to see continuing? Or is it a punishment that might soon be federally banned?
posted by DoublePlus (113 comments total)

 
Define "working just fine".
posted by jokeefe at 9:18 AM on April 18, 2010 [12 favorites]


I can't help but wonder what the recidivism rate is. I'd imagine it's rather low...
posted by LSK at 9:20 AM on April 18, 2010


"it sounds like it's working just fine" has anyone asked the kids.

I love the use of the term "corporal punishment", it rolls off the tongue so much easier than "beating children with sticks".
posted by HuronBob at 9:20 AM on April 18, 2010 [40 favorites]


"I can't help but wonder what the recidivism rate is. I'd imagine it's rather low"...

You REALLY want to lower the recidivism rate? Just move right to capital punishment for spitballs...!
posted by HuronBob at 9:22 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Talking out of turn? That's a paddlin'. Lookin' out the window? That's a paddlin'. Staring at my sandals? That's a paddlin'. Paddlin' the school canoe? Oh, you better believe that's a paddlin'.
posted by mreleganza at 9:25 AM on April 18, 2010 [16 favorites]


I would like to suggest the tag "thatsapaddlin" for this post.
posted by Wild_Eep at 9:26 AM on April 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


And apparently, countries in Europe that have banned the practice for decades have not wanted to bring it back or have reported a teenage crime wave.

What if the uncomfortable truth is that it really doesn't matter much one way or the other? Neither side of the argument likes that, as the pro-corporals want to show that it's so effective that it's necessary, while the anti-corporals want to show that it's incredibly harmful. If it's not dramatically more effective than conventional punishment and not harmful, what's the point of the debate?
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:28 AM on April 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


aaaaand bam, you've created another generation of S&M enthusiasts.
posted by The Whelk at 9:29 AM on April 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


not that there's anything wrong with that
posted by The Whelk at 9:29 AM on April 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


Because an atmosphere of fear and state-sanctioned child abuse is exactly what school should be like.
posted by kafziel at 9:29 AM on April 18, 2010 [23 favorites]


"beating children with sticks" = "not harmful"

For some reason, there's a disconnect there for me.
posted by HuronBob at 9:30 AM on April 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


My question: who makes the paddles? How do they do contracting? Is there a period of testing different types of paddles? Are the paddles ergonomic for the teachers? Can you get custom built paddles? What about the dangers of RSI? Are the paddles sanitized between paddling? Are they giving training to teachers on the proper methods of paddling? What about children with spinal issues, would you also paddle them?

(I still wonder what qualifications & training happens in Singapore to be a caner...)
posted by yeloson at 9:31 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, is there any study on very pro-corporals having had lots of it growing up and now don't want anyone else to be "coddled", generational revenge and all that? I was also under the impression it's the kind of thing that only works once, then it just makes the person resentful and distrustful of the system that ...beats them.
posted by The Whelk at 9:32 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


In an era when students talk back to teachers, skip class and wear ever-more-risque clothing to school...

No source, no cites, just "kids today, amirite?" I guess we just assume they've got a SkankoSassBackClassSkip-o-Meter that they're getting readings from on all this, surely.

Yay, beating kids with wooden paddles! That'll cure all that skankin/sassback/class-skippin!

Has there been any day in the last three months that hasn't contained an embarrassing story about a bunch of medieval shit taking place here in Texas? Yi.
posted by emjaybee at 9:33 AM on April 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


I understand, yeloson, that they've avoided the equipment and training issues by contracting with Blackwater to provide the weapons paddles and doing the beating of children with sticks paddling. I think I also read that GWB is the primary consultant (thus the use of WMD for spitballs)
posted by HuronBob at 9:34 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


DoublePlus, I can't tell if you meant to poison your post with the "it's working just fine" bit, or if you were trying to be deadpan. But anyone with an extra thought to spare on the issue will acknowledge that even a temporary drop is school-defined misbehavior isn't going to get us to the point of saying that beating students for said school-defined misbehavior is "working just fine." That is, the long-term consequences of beating students over discipline issues are not going to be measured by counting school absences or detention time.
posted by argybarg at 9:34 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I went to a Catholic high school. Not in the 1940s or something, mind you, but in the mid'-90s. My freshman history teacher had been banned from teaching at public high school for beating up a student and slamming his head into a locker. We also had a German priest teaching one of the church history classes who at one point clocked a friend of mine in the face with a bible so hard that he flipped over backward and fell out out of his desk (my friend was short, and apparently the priest was attempting to just whack him in the chest, but that's not how it played out). I don't have a dog in this fight, because I don't have kids, and honestly I'd probably be against this in a public school, but after Catholic school it's hard for me to work up that much outrage.

To finish my anecdotal and irrelevant commentary, here are some references to paddling in prime time television cartoons.

Jasper Beardley on The Simpsons.

The Stonecutters initiation ritual on The Simpsons (featuring "Crossing the Desert," "The Unblinking Eye," and "The Paddling of the Swollen Ass with Paddles").

Paddlin' Peggy Hill on King of the Hill.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:36 AM on April 18, 2010


Sounds good to me.
posted by sciurus at 9:37 AM on April 18, 2010


Wait, after those experiences it's hard for you to work up outrage over corporal punishment in schools?
posted by argybarg at 9:38 AM on April 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Hitting children is wrong, no matter what stories you make up to make it sound okay.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:38 AM on April 18, 2010 [16 favorites]


It's a well-known fact that the "homebrew" industry is largely just a front for the seedy custom child-padding market.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:39 AM on April 18, 2010


Honestly, I'm surprised it's gotten this far. In the current a-pedo-under-every-bed climate, I'm a little shocked no one's read anything into what's motivating the teachers. I'm kind of suspicious myself.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:39 AM on April 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


That is! I'm suspicious of them. Surely I'M not suspicious! Right? RIGHT?!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:40 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"face with bible"...."butt with paddle"..."face with bible"...."butt with paddle"... hmmmmm????

Before I decide this, I need to know what version of the bible it is, and what type of wood the paddle is made of...
posted by HuronBob at 9:41 AM on April 18, 2010


Violence begets violence.

Hitting a kid to discipline them means that kid is being told that violence is a legitimate means of ensuring obedience.

I don't approve.
posted by knapah at 9:41 AM on April 18, 2010 [16 favorites]


Use Atari paddles instead. Like nunchaku. Won't hurt nearly as much but imagine the embarrassment of having your classmates laugh at you as the teacher wails. Of course you'll have to build in time and budget for martial arts training for the staff, but hey.
posted by cashman at 9:43 AM on April 18, 2010


I was going to do some jokey post linking to images and did a google image search for "school paddle".. now I'm just here to warn you all not to do that.....
posted by HuronBob at 9:44 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't get it. Wouldn't the social conservatives want to look at the society that created the hippies and want to do the opposite of that?
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:45 AM on April 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Incidentally, the vast majority of the child abuse cases that the Catholic Church in Ireland are having to deal with are to do with atrocious physical abuses related to corporal punishment, not sexual abuse.

Support beating children now, be condemned by history in the future.
posted by knapah at 9:46 AM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Incidentally, the vast majority of the child abuse cases that the Catholic Church in Ireland are having to deal with are to do with atrocious physical abuses related to corporal punishment

This is my surprised face.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:47 AM on April 18, 2010


In an era when students talk back to teachers, skip class and wear ever-more-risque clothing to school...

Which era is he talking about? I'm pretty sure that you could have said that about my schooling era in the seventies and my grandmother's in the twenties. There was never a golden age of student good behavior that paddling could bring back.
posted by octothorpe at 9:47 AM on April 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I don't get it. Wouldn't the social conservatives want to look at the society that created the hippies and want to do the opposite of that?

If you let people do more or less what they want then they won't spend their time plotting to overthrow the system. If you beat and discipline them and seek to make them into automatons, then you've turned on a pressure cooker.
posted by knapah at 9:48 AM on April 18, 2010


I'm a bit disturbed that they cite risque clothing as a paddlable offense. Doesn't that essentially boil down to adults whapping kids because the adult found them too sexy? In what culture is that acceptable?
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:50 AM on April 18, 2010 [20 favorites]


argybarg, I wasn't trying to spoil the post or anything. I just said, "it sounds like it's working just fine" because of this quote from my first link:

Since paddling was brought back to the city's 14 schools by a unanimous board vote in May, behavior at Temple's single high school has changed dramatically, Wright said, even though only one student in the school system has been paddled.
posted by DoublePlus at 9:51 AM on April 18, 2010


fail.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:52 AM on April 18, 2010


In a private, Protestant pre-school I was once paddled for saying the word "butt." As in, a teacher playfully (?) lifted a student onto his shoulder, and I said (quite truthfully after the student's pants got pulled down a bit in the process): "I can see his butt!"

So I got sent to put my nose in the corner for the duration of class, then paddled after class.

I guess I'm still a little bitter about it, since even at four or five years old, I knew there was nothing wrong with what I did, and I got whipped anyway.

All it really did, I think, was confirm in my young mind that authorities could use force arbitrarily against whomever they like, without needing to offer reasons why what was done should not be done.

I think if you teach kids that they will be punished for bad behavior when (and only when) they get caught, you've failed to provide them for reasons to behave themselves whenever no one is watching. (Obviously this particular teacher could have offered no good reason for my paddling, and I suspect he enjoyed it, and had some serious issues of his own.)

Treat kids like they can't reason and you might end up with kids who aren't accustomed to, or amenable to, being reasoned with.
posted by edguardo at 9:52 AM on April 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


Hitting a kid to discipline them means that kid is being told that violence is a legitimate means of ensuring obedience.

Violence *IS* a legitimate means of ensuring obedience, and it's why we sanction many authority figures (police, military, riot squad, prison wardens, security guards, even bouncers) with the ability to exercise violence if/when necessary. I think the question is whether teachers need this as a tool to address mischief rather than more serious and disruptive behaviours the others deal with
posted by Kirk Grim at 9:54 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, the vast majority of the child abuse cases that the Catholic Church in Ireland are having to deal with are to do with atrocious physical abuses related to corporal punishment, not sexual abuse.

The support for this statement is found where?

Parochial schools have a long history of dishing out corporal punishment. Mostly by nuns - not priests. Don't conflate these issues. Unlike victims of sexual abuse, I can certainly say that I deserved every one of the paddlings I got.
posted by three blind mice at 9:55 AM on April 18, 2010


"Violence *IS* a legitimate means of ensuring obedience"....

Your understanding of the word "legitimate" is very different than mine...
posted by HuronBob at 9:58 AM on April 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wait, after those experiences it's hard for you to work up outrage over corporal punishment in schools?

Yeah, I think it's because I'm so inured to the idea. I hope people aren't misreading me and thinking that I'm trying to "make up...stories" to justify this or that I somehow support the idea of corporal punishment, because I absolutely don't. I think it's more like I'm seeing people's shocked reactions and thinking, "Well, yeah, you guys didn't know this was going on already, all over the country?"
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:59 AM on April 18, 2010


As in: "according to law"?
posted by Kirk Grim at 10:00 AM on April 18, 2010


Grim....

See, you do use it differently... I was thinking of the definition "in accordance with the laws of reasoning; logically inferable; logical"

(or, maybe "born in wedlock")
posted by HuronBob at 10:02 AM on April 18, 2010


In an era when students talk back to teachers, skip class and wear ever-more-risque clothing to school...

Which era is he talking about?


Yeah, I've never heard anyone say, "Today's kids are so much better behaved than we were when I was a kid!" Like, ever.

“Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.”
--Socrates

posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:03 AM on April 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


Huron...

then I can dig it.
posted by Kirk Grim at 10:05 AM on April 18, 2010


I was skimming the article, not getting too upset about it, until I got to the part where this was all taking place in high school. I mean, I went to a school where kids got paddled up until like 6th grade or so. But high school? Dear god, that just sounds creeeeeeeepy.

Spanking may or may not work on young kids, but at some point you have to say "Y'know what? These kids are too old for this shit. They may not be adults yet, but more than half of them can drive and have jobs, so interacting with them in ways that adults NEVER interact with each other is just... weird and unhealthy."
posted by 23skidoo at 10:06 AM on April 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


My uncle is a big fan of corporal punishment. When he talks about it, he gets all worked up and brags about how whenever he did anything wrong at home he got beaten and he turned out just fine! Then there's kind of a pause, and he gets this look like he's trying not to cry and someone changes the subject.
posted by klanawa at 10:07 AM on April 18, 2010 [15 favorites]


The county in which I live discontinued corporal punishment in the public schools just three years ago. When they reviewed the records to find out who had been on the receiving end of this punishment, it turned out that it was applied disproportionately to black kids and exceptional children (i.e. special ed kids). Incredibly, the decision to abolish corporal punishment was controversial, because people seem to believe that it says somewhere in the Bible that you're supposed to hit kids to punish them. That's right, let's beat disabled kids with paddles, just like Jesus would do!
posted by Daily Alice at 10:08 AM on April 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I've never heard anyone say, "Today's kids are so much better behaved than we were when I was a kid!" Like, ever.

The teenagers I see occasionally seem much more composed and polite then I remember being, but that could very very easily be a "I see a lot of high-achieving, type-A teenagers and not just anyone who was in my school/age-group at the time"
posted by The Whelk at 10:08 AM on April 18, 2010


I'll tell you what: when I go a good year without hearing a story about a school administrator abusing their otherwise-legitimate authority, arbitrarily targeting kids that they don't personally like, I'll get behind this. As the father of a teenager, I can tell you that some of the arrogant spoiled little shits at my daughter's school could certainly benefit from a good old-fashioned ass whooping. I just have no faith whatsoever in the school authorities to apply it only when and to the degree that it is needed.
posted by deadmessenger at 10:09 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]



Spanking and paddling can be effective means of discipline, particularly for some kids. Whether it is more or less effective for a particular kid in a particular situation is another question. I'm not the biggest fan, but... I spanked my son when I felt he needed it and used other methods when I thought they might work better.

That being said, Not In A Million Years would I ever allow someone else to administer that. They school can call me and I'll perfectly happy to paddle the boy if I thought it was necessary.

But, frankly, I'm having real trouble contriving a situation that would necessitate doing that. This just seems stupid.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:11 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am shocked, shocked!, by the Mefi consensus on this issue.
posted by oddman at 10:12 AM on April 18, 2010


Funny, I don't see consensus.
posted by cashman at 10:14 AM on April 18, 2010


Violence *IS* a legitimate means of ensuring obedience, and it's why we sanction many authority figures (police, military, riot squad, prison wardens, security guards, even bouncers) with the ability to exercise violence if/when necessary.

The problem is that that is not what corporal punishment is. When a cop or a prison guard uses violence against a prisoner, it is not (well, ideally, I mean we all know better by now) an act of punishment but is instead the force needed to contain a threat to the life, limb, or property of human beings. It is not punishment but defense.

Corporal punishment, on the other hand, is the use of violence not to defend life, limb, or property, nor is it the necessary force to contain somebody who is unruly. It is the ritualized application of force intended to coerce future behavior.

The legitimate use of force to ensure obedience is the use of force to immediately protect human beings and their property against a person who is trying to engage in violent or destructive behavior. The license we grant as a society to use this violence begins when the subject of it begins to engage in behavior which threatens other people and their property, and ends when the subject is neutralized as a threat. Paddling, on the other hand, occurs after the threatening behavior has ended; it is not protecting life, limb, and property but instead enacting violence outside of that legitimate context.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:14 AM on April 18, 2010 [30 favorites]


Spanking may or may not work on young kids, but at some point you have to say "Y'know what? These kids are too old for this shit. They may not be adults yet, but more than half of them can drive and have jobs, so interacting with them in ways that adults NEVER interact with each other is just... weird and unhealthy."

This has nothing to do with it. Hitting a child, however it is justified, is one of the most cowardly things an adult can do. I am physically stronger than you, am unable, or too lazy to try and reason with you as a human being, therefore I'm comfortable beating you.

Hitting a teenager is much more
troublesome, cos a teenager can
HIT BACK. And that might hurt me.
posted by jontyjago at 10:21 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was skimming the article, not getting too upset about it, until I got to the part where this was all taking place in high school. I mean, I went to a school where kids got paddled up until like 6th grade or so. But high school? Dear god, that just sounds creeeeeeeepy.

Not just creepy but really unrealistic and potentially dangerous for the teachers. It assumes a student population that actually would be mortified by the punishment, something that doesn't jive at all with my early-nineties high school experience. To wit: if a teacher at my high school would have attempted to paddle somebody, they would have likely found themselves punched in the throat or shivved. Seriously. At 15-18 years of age righteous indignation takes over from whatever desire to please authority might remain, and I for one wouldn't automatically discount a student's actions on the basis of self-defense.
posted by werkzeuger at 10:22 AM on April 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I had a plan to bring back public spanking, not for kids, but for misbehaving adults. We would have a Spankmaster General whose coat-of-arms would be crossed cricket bats.
Even without a civic infrastructure in place it would be fun to give out tickets to the deserving.
posted by Jode at 10:23 AM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


"stop hitting your sister!" *smack*
posted by edgeways at 10:27 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Before I decide this, I need to know what version of the bible it is

Red Letter
posted by brundlefly at 10:34 AM on April 18, 2010


...a Spankmaster General...

Kool Keith?
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:36 AM on April 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


The support for this statement is found where?

Parochial schools have a long history of dishing out corporal punishment. Mostly by nuns - not priests. Don't conflate these issues. Unlike victims of sexual abuse, I can certainly say that I deserved every one of the paddlings I got.


Let me clarify, there was more child abuse of the 'corporal punishment' variety inflicted on the children than there was child abuse of the sexual variety.

Think of the boys at Artane, there was sexual abuse going on there, of course, but the beatings were much more frequent.

And we're going to have to disagree on you deserving paddlings, as I don't believe that anything a child makes them deserve being beaten for it.

I consider corporal punishment to be illegitimate and abusive.
posted by knapah at 10:40 AM on April 18, 2010


I don't think you can say that corporal punishment is absolutely right or wrong. Like so much, context and how it is carried out is key. In this day in age, at least in Westernized countries, it's almost certainly not a good idea, simply because in the broader cultural context it is seen as crude and even evil. No respectable people do it or believe that it is something that should be done. Therefore, any child who is spanked will be singled out for a lot of negative attention, and shame and self-doubt will ensue. I can see a child facing this kind of punishment today thinking, "what kind of a monster must I be that an adult hit me as punishment?" So the results for a kid's psyche are consistent with child abuse, therefore it is child abuse, in today's context.

However, fifty years ago, corporal punishment was routine. My grandparents used spanking as a punishment routinely, and I don't know anyone in my parent's generation who didn't experience corporal punishment or spanking as a child. In fact, a child who wasn't spanked would have been the subject of suspicion. If all his/her friends were regularly spanked at home, but he/she wasn't, he/she may have felt guilty about avoiding a routine right of passage, or felt like he/she was better than all the other kids, neither of which are good outcomes. If the predominant culture is 'spare the rod, spoil the child,' and conscientious parents and educators really believe that it is best for the kids if they are occasionally spanked or thrashed, then, in fact, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the best thing for kids in such an environment is to be spanked.

The more I think about it, the more I think that the motive and intent of parents/guardians is the most important determinant for whether a child succeeds and thrives. A spanking done out of a sincere belief that it is best for the child (painful as it may be to physically harm a person you love) does more good than a timeout given out of spite or favoritism. The thing is, I doubt the motives of these Texas school board people, since in this day in age, I think, any person with the best interests of the child in mind would conclude that the spectacle and morbid curiosity that would come with reinstituting corporal punishment in 2010 would harm the children more than any benefit from spanking would help them. More likely, I see a desire to assert authority, thumb their nose at the idea of moral and cultural progress*, or maybe even (and this is the cynic in me) use it as a cover for classism or racism: part of me really wants to know the racial makeup of the school district and school board.

*One last point: I'm not a moral relativist, and I do believe in the idea of moral and cultural progress. I believe a society that believes that corporal punishment is wrong is much better and more functional than one that believes that it is correct. But for individual children, it's better that they are socialized in a manner that doesn't stigmatize them as exceptional or freakish in either type of society. And this is not to say that I always believe that everyone should follow the prevailing social norms out of a sense of conformity, even if they believe them to be immoral. Racism was once a social norm, so was the idea that women's place is in the home, etc., etc. and I'm glad those are never professed to be true by reasonable people anymore, as a result of courageous pioneers challenging the old ways of thinking. But I just don't think spanking is as important a social issue as those norms: the crushing weight of institutionalized racism or misogyny can and has fucked up lives in way bigger ways than a few parent- or teacher-administered paddlings ever can or will. I guess the nuanced point I am trying to make is that conformity--a sense of belonging to a culture or community with shared values and understandings--is of value for human beings, and isn't to be dismissed, and we must always try to way the value of upsetting that status quo for the goal of moral progress (or any type of progress--it's progress when one new machine can do the job of twenty workers, but now those twenty workers are obsolete) versus the benefits of that progress itself.
posted by notswedish at 10:41 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


gah... 'weigh,' not 'way' ... duh
posted by notswedish at 10:43 AM on April 18, 2010


Conclusions on physical abuse [PDF Chapter of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse] pp. 155-156 of the report, 51-52 of the pdf.

1. Artane used frequent and severe corporal punishment to impose and enforce a regime of militaristic discipline.

2. Corporal punishment was systemic and pervasive. Management did nothing to prevent excessive and inappropriate punishment and boys and Brothers learnt to accept a high level of physical punishment as the norm.

3. Brothers used a variety of weapons and devised methods of increasing suffering when inflicting punishment, and in some cases they were cruel and even sadistic.

4. Brothers did not intervene to stop excessive punishment by colleagues, and there was a code of conduct between Brothers that prevented criticism of each other’s behaviour, even in cases where it was clearly extreme or excessive. All Brothers, therefore, became implicated in excesses.

5. Even where a child behaved and kept to the rules, he could still be beaten.

6. The result of arbitrary and excessive punishment was a climate of fear.

7. Artane did not operate within the Rules and Regulations for industrial schools and the precepts of the Christian Brothers concerning corporal punishment.

8. The absence of a punishment book in Artane was a disregard for a specific legal requirement intended for the protection of children. The Punishment Book was not maintained in Artane because the Christian Brothers chose not to maintain it.

9. The Department was also at fault in failing to ensure that the statutory punishment book was properly maintained and reviewed at every inspection.

10. The Department of Education failed in its supervisory role by maintaining a defensive and protective attitude towards the management and staff. Even when it conducted an investigation, the Department simply accepted Brothers’ explanations uncritically.



Of course this is an extreme example, but this is where it can go.

This is why it shouldn't be permitted.

This is why it is abuse.
posted by knapah at 10:51 AM on April 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think there's a socioeconomic angle here that is being ignored. Any time I've talked about this issue with friends, it's usually the white middle-and-upper-middle class who recoils in horror, and lower-middle class (often nonwhite) who are all like, "You GOTTA whup your kids! My momma whupped me!"

I wonder how many of the ardent pro-corporals had brutal childhoods. Many, I would guess.

Cycle of violence indeed.
posted by Sloop John B at 10:51 AM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I hear Texas is also contemplating the re-introduction of dirty old men kissing pre-pubescent girls on game shows.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:53 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would have thought this would be obvious, but if your question is of the form "Should we look to Texas for sensible advice about X" then the answer is going to be "no".
posted by mhoye at 10:55 AM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Although I know most derails are not avoidable, it's probably worth it to point out that this thread is not "Is it ok to paddle your kids?" but "Is it ok for school administrators to paddle other people's kids?"

To which I have to say: fuck no.
posted by emjaybee at 10:55 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I grew up in an era when paddling was permitted and utilized, even in high school ('77 graduate, for historical context.)

I'd say it served as a preventative for 70% percent of the kids. The other 30% still cut up, got paddled, and kept right on being their little miscreant selves.

So I'm torn. I did spank my own children, but heavens, not when they were teenagers. I don't think I'd want an outsider paddling one of mine.

But I must say having the threat of paddling hanging over my head sure kept me from a lot of bad behavior. (Mostly from the humiliation factor. I was paddled a time or two and come on, one or two swats, not that bad re physical pain. But this really isn't about physical pain, hence why this wasn't a deterrent for a particular kind of kid.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:56 AM on April 18, 2010


Parents also pushed for the change because many paddle their children at home and wanted consistent discipline in the classroom, said John Hancock, assistant superintendent of administration for the Temple schools, who has been an educator for more than 40 years.

Consistent discipline at home. I had a foster sister who was regularly locked in her closet by her mother for "being bad." It didn't change her behavior, it made her very violent, hateful and scared.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 11:00 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I should point out that I went to a school that had a 'non-punitive discipline system', the vast majority of miscreant acts were dealt with through so-called 'concern slips' and the possibility of talking to the head teacher. The worst offences got suspensions, but you had to do something pretty bad.

Problems were confined to a handful of students in each year group, and the threat of violence or application of violence would have had little to no effect upon them other than to probably stop them coming to school.

That would be an ostensibly good outcome for the school, but a horrendous outcome for the child and ultimately for society.
posted by knapah at 11:01 AM on April 18, 2010


hitting kids is just stupid monkey dominance behavior
posted by bhnyc at 11:02 AM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Actually, there's no evidence that corporal punishment is helpful in any type of child discipline-- and lots and lots and lots suggesting harm. Take the most recent study on spanking by parents-- it made kids *more* aggressive, not less. And this study actually controlled for pre-existing aggressiveness of the kids, so it's not just another one where you can say "oh but the bad kids got spanked more, that's why." Even if that were true, if the bad kids get spanked more and are still more aggressive, clearly spanking isn't working!

Countries that have banned spanking have less crime and greater happiness than those which have not (there's obviously many other factors-- many of these countries are European and have nice things like national healthcare-- but the argument that if you aren't allowed to use corporal punishment, social disarray will result is clearly falsified by this).

The decline of corporal punishment over the course of history-- from the end of the routine use of torture, to the end of the use of capital punishment to the increasing bans on spanking kids-- has been accompanied by drops in the murder rate and increased human and civil rights access.

Also, paddling high school kids? We live in a country where they don't allow teachers to hug kindergartners for fear that it will be misinterpreted as sexual abuse-- but it's OK for adults to spank teenage boys and girls? WTF?
posted by Maias at 11:08 AM on April 18, 2010 [13 favorites]


We moved to Texas in the late 1970s. I was ten years old. My first day of 4th grade, we were playing "sideline basketball" (the entire phys ed class stands lined up around the basketball court, with five players rotating in for a set number of minutes to give everyone a chance to play). Because of the layout of the gymnasium/auditorium, lining up behind the goal meant sitting on the auditorium stage.

We were told that under no circumstances were we to go any further back than the edge of the stage. Naturally, that's where I'm sitting when an errant shot flies overhead and rolls backstage. Being raised a helpful lad, I unthinkingly hopped up and ran back to get the ball.

You can guess what happened next. I was whisked back to the coaches' office where they attempted to contact my parents, which I assume they were required to do. Unfortunately, all I knew was that they worked "at the university." I doubt they were even in the directory at that point. My punishment, a mere three licks with a paddle. I was new, after all. Another student who had also run back to get the ball got five.

That was my introduction to Texas public schools. On the one hand, it was pretty...disconcerting being told to "grab your ankles" by a guy in Bike shorts and a LAPD moustache. On the other, I earned instant grade school badass cred as the New Kid who got "whipped" on my first day of school.

This lasted until I made the mistake of bringing my Dungeon Master's guide to school the next year.
posted by total warfare frown at 11:10 AM on April 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


The license we grant as a society to use this violence begins when the subject of it begins to engage in behavior which threatens other people and their property, and ends when the subject is neutralized as a threat

I get what you're saying, Pope Guilty, and I agree. I certainly don't want to give the impression I agree with corporal punishment or extrajudicial police beatings or anything, but then the death penalty is a pretty concrete example of "legitimate" punitive violence. And if you use the WHO's broad definition of violence a lot of corrective/punitive action the state legitimizes could be construed in that manner: "the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation." That, combined with the still-fairly-prevalent "well you shouldn't have mouthed off to that cop/border guard/etc" attitudes and lack of consequences for egregious violations of the established rules, in my mind that demonstrates that society certainly accepts violence as means of ensuring obedience and takes a fairly liberal approach to ensuring it's only used the appropriate circumstances.

But yeah, I agree with everyone here saying that teachers hitting teenagers with sticks because of their scandalous clothes and sassy backtalk is pretty backwards, and there's really no reason for it.
posted by Kirk Grim at 11:12 AM on April 18, 2010


I dunno. Any punishment you impose on a kid is pretty well certain to inflict some measure of disutility or suffering on him, and I can't see why (barring actual physical damage) inflicting purely psychic suffering through deprivation is more moral than inflicting some convex combination of physical and psychic suffering. Suffering is suffering, disutility is disutility, pain is pain.

I mean, I don't have kids, and if I did would be happy to go along with a strict NO TACTION CONTACT punishment scheme. But I hope I wouldn't delude myself into thinking that I wasn't inflicting pain on my child when I punished them for misbehavior.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:16 AM on April 18, 2010


Spanking teens for wearing "risque clothing" bears more resemblance to a porn movie than to a remotely good idea. Just sayin'.

And what is up with this article? It "cites" a bunch of Texas administrators gushing about the idea for a full page, offers no actual cites of the many studies done on corporal punishment, and barely mentions someone might disagree with the idea until almost page two. Slanted, shit journalism.
posted by cj_ at 11:16 AM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, Kirk, that the death penalty falls outside of what I define as the legitimate use of violence is part of why I'm solidly against it; to kill a person without immediate and pressing need seems like murder to me, regardless of whether the law agrees.

I mean, obviously I'm not the final word or anything, but I do believe that I am consistent in that regard.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:18 AM on April 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


... in my mind that demonstrates that society certainly accepts violence as means of ensuring obedience and takes a fairly liberal approach to ensuring it's only used the appropriate circumstances.

In my opinion, society accepting something does not necessarily make it legitimate.
posted by knapah at 11:19 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The federal government doesn't have a general police power (at least not within the states). Under which enumerated power can it ban corporal punishment in (state-funded) public schools?
posted by planet at 11:54 AM on April 18, 2010


I was a well-behaved child in school. Still, I was unfairly targeted by the administration in one of my high schools because I didn't fit in: I was known to be both queer and liberal and most of my classmates couldn't tolerate that. They would pick fights with me, and I would get punished. I got in-school suspension once for brushing against someone's foot, which so disgusted her that she stormed out of the classroom. I had caused the scene, you see, by being so disgusting in the first place.

You can bet that if paddling was one of the potential punishments the injustice of it would have caused me to act up far more than I ever did. I can't even rule out the possibility of me using violence against my teachers to prevent them using violence against me. If there was no immediate physical threat, I would have simply dropped out of school faster than I did.

I absolutely would not submit to paddling.

With me, it would have caused more problems. Of course, outcast students dropping out of school rather than be humiliated and abused is a potential bonus for the administrations involved.

The idea of this type of authority being in the hands of the school administration--especially with the correlation between believing in corporal punishment and conservative bigotry--makes me shudder.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:58 AM on April 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


"The federal government doesn't have a general police power (at least not within the states). Under which enumerated power can it ban corporal punishment in (state-funded) public schools?"

Often the federal government ties compliance to some law to some sort of funding... There is a lot of federal $$'s that flow to the states for education....
posted by HuronBob at 12:30 PM on April 18, 2010


This should be totally cool for various adults to implement so long as they agree that corporal punishment will also apply in their nursing homes. Seems fair. "Hey, remember that kid you used to beat the snot out of when you were teaching fifth grade? He's your nurse now!"
posted by adipocere at 12:32 PM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


What if the uncomfortable truth is that it really doesn't matter much one way or the other? Neither side of the argument likes that, as the pro-corporals want to show that it's so effective that it's necessary, while the anti-corporals want to show that it's incredibly harmful.

I think the argument is closer to that against torture and the death penalty; while there might be sketchy evidence here and there that says it does work as advertised, we don't want to be that kind of society.
posted by Evilspork at 1:04 PM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


All it really did, I think, was confirm in my young mind that authorities could use force arbitrarily against whomever they like, without needing to offer reasons why what was done should not be done.

This is the strongest argument in favor of corporal punishment I've heard in a long time.... Inculcating a healthy skepticism of "legitimate" authority seems like a pretty good goal for education in a democratic country. (My wife and I take a similar line on Santa Claus.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:50 PM on April 18, 2010


That's disgusting, ap.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:54 PM on April 18, 2010


Here in Florida, corporal punishment in schools is still legal, but it is handled on a county-by-county basis. In counties where paddling is permitted, the paddling is performed *not by teachers* but by one administrator, typically the dean (in a larger school), or the assistant principal or administrative assistant (just a different name for a dean or AP, not like a secretary) in smaller schools.

In order to paddle a student, the school office must have a signed permission slip from the student's parent or guardian. In addition, students frequently have a choice whether to accept paddling or another punishment, such as ISS. Students frequently choose paddling because the punishment is immediate and they can return to their classes without further penalty. In a culture where most people's parents have agreed to their being paddled, there is not much stigma to getting paddled, because it is fairly common.

In my teaching program, there are some younger post-bacc students who graduated fairly recently from schools in rural Florida counties. Uniformly, they preferred paddling to ISS because it was faster, less disruptive and didn't result in their missing much class time.

On the one hand, some of these counties are ethnically pretty homogeneous, and I am quite sure in more heterogeneous rural counties, that ethnic minority kids get paddled more than white kids. OTOH, if the minority kids' parents don't agree to paddling, then their kids just get sent to ISS more often than white kids, thereby missing more class and getting further behind in achievement.
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:12 PM on April 18, 2010


This is the strongest argument in favor of corporal punishment I've heard in a long time.... Inculcating a healthy skepticism of "legitimate" authority seems like a pretty good goal for education in a democratic country.

Whacking kids arbitrarily is a pretty unhealthy way to engender healthy skepticism towards authority.

Let's teach them instead to respect the authority of others in proportion to their demonstrated expertise, or the reasonableness of their arguments.

Skepticism and high standards will follow.
posted by edguardo at 2:14 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


In corporal punishment, in addition to the physical pain inflicted, is also a dimension of humiliation in front of one's peers. It's the humiliation component - the indignity of submitting to an authority figure to receive an arbitrary but non-permanent amount of pain - I think, that may be more successful in coercing/instilling behavioural modification.

It saddens me to ponder what proportion between giving out pain or the giving out of humiliation that contributes to the enjoyment of the feeling of authority that a subset of the most pro- corporal punishment demographic feels.
posted by porpoise at 2:24 PM on April 18, 2010


I think the argument is closer to that against torture and the death penalty; while there might be sketchy evidence here and there that says it does work as advertised, we don't want to be that kind of society.

Exactly. People who support the corporal punishment of children, especially their own, are probably more likely to support, advocate, and accept the usual justifications given for the torture of suspected criminals than those who don't.

Residents said restoring paddling is less about the punishment and more about the threat.

If you want to raise a generation of people who are comfortable with the idea of inflicting physical pain on others and threatening them in order to facilitate their compliance with your demands, institute corporal punishment. `
posted by inconsequentialist at 2:27 PM on April 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Physical punishment is all-too-often lazy, disproportionate, and habit-forming for adults. And it's also training children to hit their children.

I was spanked, regularly, as a child -- hated it, hated parents for doing it. And they regret having done so. I regret even more having started (to a lesser degree, but still) with my child, though thankfully, I put a rather swift end to it. But that took a conscious effort to counter-act the training I'd received.

There is no way anyone will ever hit my child again, and not face me (and some imminent violence, yes). There is no good reason for adults of any kind, especially those with a mantle of authority, to countenance corporal punishment -- abuse, really -- of children. School beatings are a terrible idea; there are much more effective and humane methods of discipline.

But, corporal punishment for adults? Sure. A moderate caning would be much more sensible for many criminals than the injustice, expense and brutality (e.g., rape) we inflict in prisons. I think that's entirely consistent: gentle reasoning and limits with children, ratcheting up to caning for willfully criminal adults.
posted by slab_lizard at 2:28 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Living in fucking Temple, Texas, is punishment enough for anyone.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:32 PM on April 18, 2010


Slab_Lizard, are you proposing we install agony booths?
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:37 PM on April 18, 2010


"We're rural central Texas. We're very well educated, but still there are those core values. Churches are full on Sundays."

"We're very well educated..."

If you were educated, you'd know that positive reinforcement is more effective than negative reinforcement.

"...but there are those core values."

But? This is not where you use the word but. Being well-educated means knowing and understanding core values. It means abiding by the higher instincts that separate us from the animals. Using the word but makes it seem like the well-educated either don't have or don't understand the core values.

"Churches are full on Sundays."

What does this have to do with anything? Education and core values come from being well-read in a wide variety of academic fields, from a proper upbringing in a nurturing environment, from constructive interaction with fellow human beings on a day-to-day basis as well as from making mistakes and learning from them. It's something you have to do every day and it takes years. Gathering once a week to sing and listen to a man in a robe opine about a book written centuries ago is not an education. It does not build values. Education and values don't come that cheap.

"It's like speeding," said Bill Woodward, a graphic designer. "Are they going to give you a speeding ticket, or . . . a warning? I'd speed all day if I knew it was going to be a warning."

Really? You'd speed all day if you knew it was going to be a warning? Asshole. So much for core values in this well educated town! If you had an education and core values, you'd follow the speed limit to protect you, your passenger and the three year old kid who just kicked her ball across the street.

Uneducated, morally-bankrupt adults who think they have an education and core values playing judge, jury and executioner to hit kids with pieces of wood?

No good can come of this.
posted by stringbean at 2:50 PM on April 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


Even if I were not suspicious of any dumb thing the authorities in Temple did (Temple: not quite hip enough to be a suburb of Waco!), I just keep putting this discussion of corporal punishment in the high schools next to the ongoing revelations of the mischief the administration in Lower Merion's school district got into with the laptop cameras. Mixing the two seems like a recipe for disaster.
posted by immlass at 2:57 PM on April 18, 2010


Mixing the two seems like a recipe for disaster.

Or! An exciting new revenue stream for the school.
posted by The Whelk at 3:06 PM on April 18, 2010


I think it's just a great deal of frustration that leads to this kind of thinking. Speaking as a high school teacher in a somewhat urban area, there really isn't any "punishment" that my students are afraid of....not that I want to instill fear in my students, but there has to be something to deter them from doing the things they shouldn't.

This happened last week in my class, I was instructing a lesson at the smart board, showing students how to format their resumes. A student keeps talking to another and is causing a disruption. I've tried non-verbally telling the student to stop with a look or two. Other students are being distracted now. Let's listen in:
Me: Excuse me, Student, would you please stop talking, I'm teaching a class right now and you're making it difficult for other students to hear me.
Student: Whatever, I can do what I want. (keeps talking)
Me: I asked politely, please stop, I don't want to have to write you up. (for disobedience and distracting the class)
Student: Go ahead. You know I won't come to the detentions that I'll get.
Me: Yes, if you don't then you'll get suspended, you know the rules. You don't want that do you? (which is how our system flows...level I leads to level II, etc. If you don't do your detention(s) you get suspended)
Student: Oh cool, I could use a day off, smirks and keeps talking.

:sigh: So, in order for me to maintain some kind of order in my classes - to teach the students that want to learn- I have to follow through, write the student up, call the parent and tell them about the detentions. (The parent didn't really care.) The student doesn't show and then they get suspended (a free day off in their eyes) - all because they chose to not stop talking in class.

Dumb isn't it?

I'm not saying paddling is right at all, I just totally get where it's coming from. I know I'm at my wits end many days with all the distractions and ridiculous behavior. I just want to teach and educate my students.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:07 PM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Am I the only one that was really surprised that, in Temple at least, they require the permission of the paddlee before they go ahead?
posted by MUD at 3:29 PM on April 18, 2010


I think that's entirely consistent: gentle reasoning and limits with children, ratcheting up to caning for willfully criminal adults.

I'm not aware of any modern democracy which uses caning for punishment of crime. As far as I know, that's the kind of punishment used solely in authoritarian, repressive societies.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:30 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hello everyone. I thought I'd weigh in here since I grew up in Texas and was spanked, many, many times throughout my schooling there. They called it 'licks', which I still think is just odd. I understand that different schools administer this in different ways, but here are a few of my experiences:

The first week I was there, after moving from Aurora, CO to this tiny Texas town of 1,000, I was given three licks for not realizing I was to end each address to my teacher with 'sir'. That was in the 5th grade.

A teacher once told me that he wished they were still allowed to use paddles with holes drilled in them because they lightened the paddle and cut down on wind resistance. This was after being swatted 3 times for being late to class.

A friend of mine had a paddle broken in half over his ass. This was around the 8th grade. We laughed about it at the time, but the teacher was really angry.

They gave the paddlings either one or three at a time. Three was better because the first one would numb your ass and you wouldn't even feel the other two. If they were giving you one, they would make it count. I always hoped for three.

Now, I hesitate to call this child abuse because I understand that children go through much worse than this at the hands of adults every day. That, however, doesn't make this practice at all acceptable. I hope to see it abolished completely as in more civilized parts of the country.

As for me, I made the decision long ago that if I have kids, no authority figure will ever be given physical domain over them in the interests of discipline, but ever, and I wouldn't even let them attend a school that uses it as a policy. It teaches kids that they must remain compliant under the threat of physical force and that, in my mind, is just lazy and stupid. There are ways to get through to kids, even troubled ones. It's amazing the results you can get when you treat them like little human beings.
posted by KyMaTo at 3:34 PM on April 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I got a paddling in the 7th grade. This was in Arkansas, around 1985. It was in Mrs. Wiles's 4th period history class, and she thought I was talking but it was the kid next to me. It totally wasn't me! (seriously, it wasn't). Anyway, she gave me a choice: I could write a 10 page essay on some obscure history subject I can't remember now that was to be turned in the next day OR I would get "licks", as we called them at our school.

Memory is funny. I can barely remember last week but I remember that night, as I most certainly didn't write the history paper I did watch a much hyped and talked-about TV program starring a young reporter named Geraldo Rivera. He was opening Al Capone's vault, and they hoped to find all sorts of treasure but it turned out to be a pile of trash. The next day I went to school, Geraldo's failure in my head, and my failure to write the report looming large. I'd have to get my licks.

The bitch Mrs. Wiles didn't do the job herself, but asked Coach Johnston to give me licks. This was right outside the classroom, and he whacked me three times. The entirety of the punishment was public, and my classmates saw (or heard) everything--the threats, the punishment, all of it. It was meant to embarrass me, and to discourage others from doing it. Looking back now, I think it was pointless. All it did was piss me the hell off, and I detested that teacher for the rest of my days there.

The one bit I took from her was, while walking back into the classroom, my ass burning like fire, I entered with all eyes on me and I made a really exaggerated "ooooohhh that hurts" face. Everyone laughed.
posted by zardoz at 5:42 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I work in a technical field and have had a number of ethnic Chinese colleagues over the years. On those occasions when non-work-related conversation turned to issues of upbringing, it was almost universally the case that they were subject to corporal punishment as children. The punishment was applied by parents, teachers, and in some cases the oldest brother, generally using some thin, whippy instrument such as a bamboo cane (or, in one case I recall, an "American-made feather duster(!)"). These were all high-achieving, seemingly well-adjusted people. None of them seemed to think it did them any harm.

I wonder if any Chinese MeFites would be willing to speak up and give an opinion on this issue. It would be interesting to know how they feel about being characterized as barbaric, etc., by moralistic westerners. (I realize that not every Chinese person is in favor of corporal punishment.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 5:55 PM on April 18, 2010


Against the beating of children = Moralistic?: ....Niice. And certainly not a moralistic way to frame the issue!

I think the hoary "but I turned out fine!"/"more or less well adjusted" caveat so often used to condone corporal punishment is fairly worthless, unless one is speaking from experience as a prison warden or someone else with real contact to a wider spectrum of society including people who maybe didn't turn out quite so alright. I think it would be more meaningful to ask adults who make this "I turned out fine" claim whether they are (1) (quite naturally) protecting the parents whom they love, or (2) do they actually credit in any real way their adult "success" to having been whipped, smacked and spanked as a child? Speaking as someone who was hit (though not often) as a child (the 1970's) and learned from it only anger and fear, my money's on (1).
posted by applemeat at 7:13 PM on April 18, 2010


fail.

Fail wail?
posted by armage at 7:17 PM on April 18, 2010


Against the beating of children = Moralistic?: ....Niice.

The only people I see in this thread making absolutist moralistic pronouncements are those opposed to corporal punishment.

And certainly not a moralistic way to frame the issue!

Uh, ... I agree? (I'm not sure what you're trying to say here.)

And why would you think that people would want to protect parents who did something so horrible (as you would characterize it, presumably) to them?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:42 PM on April 18, 2010


If you were educated, you'd know that positive reinforcement is more effective than negative reinforcement.

Sure, when the little buggers do something positive I'll reinforce it. But where's the positive reinforcement opportunity when someone's throwing a soda can at a bullied kid?

I take issue with this statement beyond that, though; I have a university degree and I'm not terribly familiar with behavioral science and I imagine it's the same for many others. In any case, I've seen positive reinforcement taken to its' logical extreme with my sister-in-law who would try to use reasoned argument to discipline and reinforce behavior with a kid who couldn't use words yet so I'm probably a little biased here. The "terrible twos" are on to the "terrible fives" now and going strong.

I'm not condoning corporal punishment, again. I just think negative punishments are necessary sometimes too.
posted by Kirk Grim at 8:13 PM on April 18, 2010


Yes. This is where I currently reside. Thankfully, I'm moving back to Austin so my five year-old daughter won't have to start public school here. I actually wasn't aware of this decision - the local newspaper is so atrocious, I don't ever read it. The "local" news is actually out of Waco since Temple doesn't have a network affiliate large enough to have its own newscast. I can catch News 8 out of Austin on cable here, so that's all I ever watch.

Of course this is wrong and barbaric and from the dark ages of public education. But I secretly think if some of those kids I went to school with back in the day had the crap beat out of them about once a week, they probably would have been a little easier to take.
posted by PuppyCat at 8:19 PM on April 18, 2010


Corporal Punishment is a bad idea for a whole lot of reasons, and one of these days a student that has been punished in this manner will come back to the school with a knife or a gun to exact revenge/what they see as justice. I'm not saying I hope this will happen, but, my god, if a teacher had ever taken a hand to me, or a paddle, I would have gone after them with a knife or pair of scissors or worse. I know this probably says more about my own character flaws than anything else, and I certainly have deep issues with being assaulted or physically threatened, but I also know I'm not the only type of person who might react this way. Jesus, you hit a pet and you go to jail. You hit a kid and that's okay‽

(NB: my parents only hit me once or twice, and only once in anger, fear, and frustration, when I was a teen, so that's not why I'm saying this--they didn't abuse me at all.)
posted by exlotuseater at 9:49 PM on April 18, 2010


First grade, Albuquerque, NM. I got paddled. You know what I remember about first grade? That. Nothing else. Do you think that experience gave me a lasting appreciation for school? It didn't; from that moment on, I hated school. Didn't matter that we moved back East the next year, and I was never hit by a teacher again. School had attacked me, and was forever after my enemy. Great strategy, sadists.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:15 AM on April 19, 2010


Hmm. I got paddled once in fifth grade. Another kid from my class got paddled at the same time. He was the class "crybaby"... started bawling before the paddle even came out.. was screaming before he got smacked.. I was laughing so hard I didn't even feel the paddle hit me. I just remember running back to the classroom while the teacher tried to convince the other kid that none of his bones were broken, and telling them about his reaction. I suppose I was a bit of a brat. You know, I don't even remember why I was getting paddled. It's the only time it ever happened to me, too.

On the flip side, about 12 years ago I knew a couple that seemed like the nicest people, who had three kids who were little angels in their parents presence and absolute monsters anywhere else... one time their dad caught them in monster mode and said something like... "You've been told how to behave, and defied my instructions. Go back to the apartment and prepare the rod of correction." ... that was some seriously scary stuff. I think I'd have had some permanent psychological scarring if my parents had owned anything called "the rod of correction."
posted by Narual at 7:39 AM on April 19, 2010


I think I had that on my 12th level Fighter.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:40 AM on April 19, 2010


So, in order for me to maintain some kind of order in my classes - to teach the students that want to learn- I have to follow through, write the student up, call the parent and tell them about the detentions. (The parent didn't really care.)
...
I'm not saying paddling is right at all, I just totally get where it's coming from. I know I'm at my wits end many days with all the distractions and ridiculous behavior.


We totally get where you're coming from too - going through a standard disciplinary procedure is time-consuming, and there are many frustrations involved, especially if the process itself has kinks which prevent it from affecting child behavior as drastically as would be hoped. It would be much more gratifying to do something immediate, like just come up and hit the child across the face. Well, gratifying to the person being frustrated, at least... whether or not it helps the child become a better person, at least it makes them SHUT UP, and that's the end goal, right?

HAMFUCKINGBURGER
posted by FatherDagon at 10:32 AM on April 19, 2010


“Violence *IS* a legitimate means of ensuring obedience,”
No, we sanction authority figures to use violence when necessary to prevent further or greater violence.
This ‘obedience’ angle is sneaked in by authoritarian types who have no experience with violence. And it’s the same thing every time – equating delivery of violence with its mastery. And each time it’s they who are mastered by it, allowing themselves to be led by application of force alone.

Compliance by force is properly used in immediacy, not as a threat. Because its never a threat that cannot be exercised. You always have to use it. Otherwise there’s some doubt that you might have used it.

You see the same mistake in another form by criminal types who threaten to kill someone. First – why warn anyone and give them time to prepare a defense if you’re actually going to kill them? Second – you’ve locked yourself into one method of response which you now have to follow through on to maintain authority and Third – what if you fail?
Your authority then, predicated on this threat, also fails.

So too – fail to inflict enough pain to ensure compliance and – now what? More pain? Do you finally execute a child for talking back? If you fail to escalate, you will fail to break the kid (or anyone’s) will. So after whacking a child a few times, creating more and more suffering, you either kill them or relent and try something else. (I’m gonna take the odds here and say a school system isn’t going to execute a child).

Whatever is done after the infliction of pain stops is going to look like a concession. (Especially since broadly applied single method violence cedes a creative, inquiring response from initiation)
The kid is going to think they’ve won. And in a sense they’re right. But there’s nothing to win for either side.
The main goal of public education is to learn, not to obey. Kid doesn’t want to listen, hey, he doesn’t get educated. If you’ve got the resources to spend on him figuring out why he’s a problem child – excellent. If not, hitting isn’t going to do it and detracts from the main goal. Because only minimal force is necessary to keep them away from other kids who do want to learn.

Failure to do that though *is * a failure in responsibility and also erodes legitimacy. There’s no excuse for a school system not supporting a teacher’s duty in the classroom to teach the kids who want to be there. Shouldn’t be too hard for a school district to have someone who can remove them and keep them in some room all day until they want to come to class.

I understand the frustration and it seems (from my outside perspective) every single action in education is coupled with bureaucracy. But I’ve never found it necessary to punish anyone. In part because most people, kids especially, don’t rise to expectations without external help. But they do fall to the level of their training.

And – what if I don’t want my kids paddled and someone paddles them?

In taking violence as a legitimate method to enforce authority, the only real difference then in derivation of that authority (in my right as a parent to defend my children and using violence to do it, and the school’s right to strike my child to make them obey) is the ability to execute it.

I’m gonna take the odds here and say I could easily dismantle a principal or pretty much any security the resources of a school district could muster. But simply because I can, simply because it’s the quickest path to enforcing my will, doesn’t mean I should.
My job is my kids welfare and education – not making some school district see things my way.

So I wouldn’t move there in the first place. I’d oppose this kind of thing if it came to my area. I’d move away if it became policy. And I’d follow legal recourse if my kid got paddled. This is not following my visceral inclination of course, but children tend to do what you show them – not what you tell them. That whole modeling thing. So I try to show them how to be civilized by acting civilized myself. In this way they will neither fear nor revere violence but respond to legitimate authority and contest it where it's not legitimate because they respect themselves. Self-respect leads to self-discipline.

"It is easy to kill someone with a slash of a sword. It is hard to be impossible for others to cut down" - Yagyū Munenori
posted by Smedleyman at 1:18 PM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


When last I saw paddling done in public school, I was in junior high (7-8th grade). It was done by the principle or assistant principle. Usually with both of them there. The student was required to bend over the principle's desk. The instrument was a heavy wooden paddle.

I got paddled plenty in grade school. Usually because I was the Big Kid, and any "rough-housing" on my part was called "fighting", and therefore warranted a paddling. But at age 12, the whole idea filled me with TERROR.

I refused to submit. Caught all kinds of hell for that. Grew up puzzling why I was different, why was I so TERRIFIED?

I eventually figured it out when I was about 25. Bending over for a sexy man was SEX. Yea, yea, I know, how cheezey, right? The principal and his assistant were sexy men. LOL! (It feels good admitting this sentiment here). I am still puzzled what connection my head made to find the sex in that situation. I didn't comprehend anal sex at that age. But somehow, my emotions did. The timing of that situation was such that I was on the brink of hitting puberty (by that I mean, in the following few weeks, those urges hit like a ton of bricks).

There is no doubt in my mind at all that some of the teachers who spanked me took pleasure in it. Whether the pleasure of venting rage or the pleasure of inflicting pain, I don't think I could judge. I was trouble, let there be no doubt. I still am! Bwuhahaha. Whoda thunk adults turn violent when a smart-mouthed kid talks circles around them?
posted by Goofyy at 5:46 AM on April 21, 2010


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