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Spare the rod...


I wish the state funded billboards at the border when you cross into Texas had that picture on them. This is filed under Breaking News because we don't have an Awesome category.

Texas city revives paddling as it takes a swat at misbehavior

By Michael Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 16, 2010

TEMPLE, TEX. -- In an era when students talk back to teachers, skip class and wear ever-more-risque clothing to school, one central Texas city has hit upon a deceptively simple solution: Bring back the paddle.

Most school districts across the country banned paddling of students long ago. Texas sat that trend out. Nearly a quarter of the estimated 225,000 students who received corporal punishment nationwide in 2006, the latest figures available, were from the Lone Star State.

But even by Texas standards, Temple is unusual. The city, a compact railroad hub of 60,000 people, banned the practice and then revived it at the demand of parents who longed for the orderly schools of yesteryear. Without paddling, "there were no consequences for kids," said Steve Wright, who runs a construction business and is Temple's school board president.

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.

There's probably a death penalty argument to be made here, you know, deterrence and all. I know the threat of a board across the ass kept me from acting the fool too much in high school. Oh sure, I still got my licks and chose licks over detention when given the option. But there were some teachers you didn't screw around with and nobody wanted to get licks from the head football coach - who got wind of anything you pulled in class.

Probably the same reason we keep a robust nuclear stockpile too.

And naturally, having proven effective and culturally acceptable in the South, a New York liberal wants to impose their one-size-fits-all misery on everyone else.

Corporal punishment remains legal in 20 states, mostly in the South, but its use is diminishing. Ohio ended it last year, and a movement for a federal ban is afoot. A House subcommittee held a hearing on the practice Thursday, and its chairman, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), is gearing up for a push to end the practice once and for all. She plans to introduce legislation within weeks.

"When you look that the federal government has outlawed physical punishment in prisons, I think the time has come that we should do it in schools," she said.

I'm pretty sure the parents are in the loop on this one, sister. It takes a village, not a nomenklatura.

Funny though, because we just had a training consultant come in this week and use corporal punishment as an example of an outdated practice no one would consider using and my first thought was, "So I reckon this must be his first time to Texas..."


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Comments (21)

I can't really say that I a... (Below threshold)

I can't really say that I approve of corporal punishment in schools. I remember that many teachers, in particular the coaches, reached for the paddle to instill fear rather than earn respect. I am sorry, but I feel the way my father felt; he and my mother were the only ones allowed to physically discipline their children. I received my share of spankings as a child, most of which were deserved.
I worked in my father's grocery store after school and after the basketball coach paddled me, I could hardly stand up. My father went to the school that day and told them, not just as a father but as an employer, if they they deprived him of a worker, he would deprive them of one. I have never been prouder of my 145 pound father looking the 250 pound coach in the eye and seeing the fear there.

As an old school teacher fr... (Below threshold)

As an old school teacher from way back I know from experience that discipline problems, more than anything else, brings down test scores and keep even well behaved kids from learning. In todays culture parents do not want to parent correctly and want to forbid teachers from doing what is absolutely necessary. You can throw billions of dollars at education but it does nothing if you cannot implement discipline in a classroom much less at home. Today you must hold strict discipline in a classroom. We also must hold parents responsible for the behavior of their children. You may find this harsh. but at the same time ask a teacher and I am positive you will get the same response you have just read. Better yet let every parent in America try to teach in a Public School classroom for a week and that might change their mind. Remember you have very little discipline problems in Private Schools because Private Schools are built to learn.

"Bring back the paddle.... (Below threshold)

"Bring back the paddle."

Had a wood shop teacher whose paddle had a star cut-out in the middle.

It had a thick layer of chalk on it when you got whacked.

Trust me, EVERYONE knew you got whacked until they were washed by dear ole Mom.

If the people of the city o... (Below threshold)
James H:

If the people of the city of Temple, Texas, want to instill paddling, I'm hardly in a position to stop them. But that doesn't mean I would want it in my school district.

I understand the reluctance... (Below threshold)

I understand the reluctance to use corporal punishment. However, in banning it we've turned the power structure upside down. Teachers are often afraid to so much as touch a child lest they have to deal with the police.

Without corporal punishment, what means do teachers actually have to keep unruly students in line? Detention? That's a punishment that has to be backed by the threat of things getting worse in the case of non-compliance. Suspension? The unruly kids will probably see that as vacation. Expulsion? In a public school? Grades? Would an unruly child care?

So, it's a double whammy, you remove the effective tool for discipline, while increasing the liability of those charged with enforcing discipline. The end result is today, where high schools pump out classes of barely literates that expect the world to be handed to them.

I cannot believe the wimp-a... (Below threshold)

I cannot believe the wimp-ass comments above mine. Who cares what your p*ssy dad did? The Bible is clear on this -- and to see why, just look at the schools and the problems.

Unfreakingbelievable! Did you guys not attend school in the U.S.?

By the way, if you read the... (Below threshold)

By the way, if you read the article, even though only one student was paddled thus far, the change in the behavior of the students has been positively "dramatic". Duh.

Maybe we should make paddli... (Below threshold)

Maybe we should make paddling legal in Congress and the Senate so voters wouldn't have to wait for election day. That immediate consequence could go a long way in establishing some discipline there...

Temple is 30 miles from me.... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Temple is 30 miles from me. I dont know how their current form of paddling works. I can speak on how Killeen did it about 15 years ago when my sons were in middle school.

The child was paddled if they misbehaved. Only one person at the school could do the paddling (believe it was the asst principal). The parents were aware that this could happen and did have the option to be present while this occurred or to administer the paddling at the school themselves.

In my opinion that was the right way to do this.

We have enough Congressiona... (Below threshold)

We have enough Congressional meddling in schools as it is. Perhaps someone should take a paddle to Rep. Carolyn McCarthy. The school district should answer to the parents, not Congress.

I'm not sure I agree that c... (Below threshold)

I'm not sure I agree that corporal punishment is appropriate for kids when parents run the risk of prosecution and losing custody of their kids on the whim of some pencil-neck from DCS. If anybody has the right to spank their kids, it's the parents. (I'm happy to say I was blessed with a daughter who never needed more than a gentle word to restore discipline.)

Back when the earth was still cooling, I had a junior high history teacher named Vincent who had a Board of Education that would come out at least once a week at the slightest infraction, and he would use it in class on girls as well as guys. It was obvious to all of us that his motivation was clearly based on more than discipline, and it would take a clinical psychiatrist to put all the fancy words around it, but I'm pretty sure that "sadistic son of a bitch" would be in the report. Needless to say, he lasted one year and was not offered a contract renewal.

I also had a wrestling coach that caught me giggling in a junior high study hall and put "the claw" on my shoulder muscle so hard it brought tears to my eyes. A simple "shut up" would have been enough, and there was no justification for it. I walked straight down to the principal's office with the coach right behind me, and lodged a no bullshit formal complaint, and I told the coach and the principal both that I would not tolerate that kind of excessive punishment. I was really pissed and told them I would make the biggest stink possible to the board of education if it ever happened again, and that my parents would back me all the way. They knew my mother was also a teacher in the same school district, so they knew I wasn't just showing off. I must have made my point, because I got a careful and respectful apology from the coach, and I never saw him do this to anyone else again.

The distinction I'm making here is that there have to be limits, and it shouldn't be up to the individual teacher, two years out of college and some with their own emotional baggage (and no reliable witnesses), to decide when to inflict pain. They're just people. Some teachers have their inner demons, and some teachers aren't smart enough to know where the sensible boundaries are.

If physical pain is required for a teacher to enforce discipline, perhaps they should be selling cars for a living.

Everybody had favorite teachers, and the best of them never had to use more than a pointed comment or a stern look to bring kids to heel. I had a high school history teacher named Jennings (think of a teacher like Shelby Foote from Ken Burns' Civil War series) who never once had misbehavior in his class. History class was story time, and he was a master at it. He worked our butts off and gave exams that were almost impossible, but he got all the respect he needed.

Where I do think schools should have more authority is when administrative actions are necessary in the principal's office. Fighting, vandalism, truancy, drugs, gang activity, insolent behavior, bullying, sexual misconduct and other forms of antisocial behavior need to have clear consequences to maintain reasonable order, and it shouldn't have to deal with stupid lawsuits every time some pimple-faced teener gets suspended.

I'm not a fan of "no tolerance" policies, but I suspect we've gone way over the line and turned over the asylum to the inmates. The difference is that it should be up to a third party, the principal, to evaluate each problem as a neutral outsider and have the authority to mete out appropriate and responsible discipline without worrying about getting dragged into court.

If you've ever been whacked with a custom-made, solid maple Board of Education, you already understand the difference. Personally, I would rather have been water boarded. Those suckers hurt.

Having been raised in Chica... (Below threshold)

Having been raised in Chicago Catholic schools and having a father who reached for a belt when we pissed him off, I'd have to say I'm against this. Discipline becomes abuse too easily. As far as I'm concerned it takes a special kind of twisted to pick up a chunk of wood and hit a child with it. YMMV.

That was an awesome comment... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

That was an awesome comment, Mr Bobdog.

I don't know how old you are, but I'm old enough to remember a time when corporal punishment was commonplace. And it was as you say. Arbitrary, capricious, unjust and sometimes just plain sadistic, the "swats," as we called them, were an entirely unsatisfactory way to achieve classroom discipline. Often they weren't used for that purpose at all, but instead to punish infractions like smoking in the restrooms or truancy.

Giving some teacher or assistant principal permission to strike my child? Hell, no.

Arbitrary, capricious, unju... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:

Arbitrary, capricious, unjust and sometimes just plain sadistic, the "swats," as we called them, were an entirely unsatisfactory way to achieve classroom discipline.

Unlike the speech codes, sensitivity training, and zero tolerance policies that have replaced corporal punishment. Is there strong evidence that classroom discipline and academic achievement have improved where corporal punishment was eliminated? Do results even matter anymore, or is everything empathy/fairness driven in life today?

There is no one-size-fits-all, but if giving out licks works for Temple then good on 'em.

I think the Paddle is OK as... (Below threshold)

I think the Paddle is OK as long as parents can swat the principal or teacher when they overstep propriety.

If any teacher hit my mothe... (Below threshold)

If any teacher hit my mother's children she would have wiped the floor with them. My mother hated what she called "long hands". Even my father was not allow to hit us. Though he hardly ever would have. Once he was going to discipline my brother and my mother told him he would have to go thru her first.
But all 4 of us were good kids, never gave our parents any trouble. But the rule was...NO ONE HITS MY KID.
But I do understand the problem in the schools today...and yeah I think I would like to give some of them a whack myself.

Barry needs a good paddling... (Below threshold)

Barry needs a good paddling as he has misbehaved terribly from day one.

I hope I didn't leave the i... (Below threshold)

I hope I didn't leave the impression that I support the idea of a school administrator hitting kids. I certainly didn't intend to.

What I meant was that the school principal is not involved in the original incident and is a better judge of what administrative punishment is appropriate. And by punishment, I don't mean corporal punishment.

Fifty years ago, the princi... (Below threshold)

Fifty years ago, the principal at the elementary school was rumored to have an "electric paddle" in her office. The device was described as a school desk chair with a hole cut out of the bottom. Once the student was seated, the paddle was swung by an electric motor at the exposed buttocks, the beauty of the machine being precision in force and location of the strikes. Just the legend of it was deterrent enough for discretion to override curiosity.

It's quite laughable that t... (Below threshold)

It's quite laughable that there are so many who can look at the mess the state of Texas is in when it comes to crime, and still believe this kind of punishment works. If it did then surely it follows the hang 'em high mentality would also work - and clearly it doesn't. Texas needs to get its backward mind into 2010 and stop being so damn lazy in how it chooses to raise its citizens. Once you reach for the paddle (or the needle) you have already accepted defeat and sank to the depths of those you choose to punish. Show some TRUE backbone and instil REAL discipline in your children without having to resort to caveman tactics - maybe then your children would show respect rather than fear and your crime rate may be something to be proud of rather than a global shame.

People used to think it was... (Below threshold)

People used to think it was necessary to "spank" adult members of the community, military trainees, and prisoners. In some countries they still do. In our country, it is considered sexual battery if a person over the age of 18 is "spanked", but only if over the age of 18.

For one thing, because the buttocks are so close to the sex organs, and so multiply linked to sexual nerve centers, striking them can trigger powerful and involuntary sexual stimulus in some people. There are numerous physiological ways in which it can be intentionally or unintentionally sexually abusive, but I won't list them all here. One can read the testimony, documentation, and educational resources available from the website of Parents and Teachers Against Violence In Education at www.nospank.net.

Hitting/child buttock-battering vs. DISCIPLINE:

Child buttock-battering (euphemistically labeled "spanking","swatting","switching","smacking", "paddling",or other cute-sounding names) for the purpose of gaining compliance is nothing more than an inherited bad habit.

Its a good idea for people to take a look at what they are doing, and learn how to DISCIPLINE instead of hit.

I think the reason why television shows like "Supernanny" and "Dr. Phil" are so popular is because that is precisely what many (not all) people are trying to do.

There are several reasons why child bottom-slapping isn't a good idea. Here are some good, quick reads recommended by professionals:

Plain Talk About Spanking
by Jordan Riak,

The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
by Tom Johnson,

by Lesli Taylor M.D. and Adah Maurer Ph.D.

Just a handful of those helping to raise awareness of why child bottom-slapping isn't a good idea:

American Academy of Pediatrics,
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
American Psychological Association,
Center For Effective Discipline,
Churches' Network For Non-Violence,
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
Parenting In Jesus' Footsteps,
Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children,
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In 26 countries, child corporal punishment is prohibited by law (with more in process). In fact, the US was the only UN member that did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.






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