Discipline can be a difficult concept to teach. Some children accept it more readily than others. Schools don’t always want to pick up the slack in this area. They figure that parents should be taking the lead. Not so for a certain school in Texas. Apparently the school has been having such a problem with misbehaving children that they believe it’s time to adopt an old-fashioned approach. The school has decided to use corporal punishment on children who can’t be disciplined: they are going to start paddling them. The Texas Classroom Teacher Association defines corporal punishment as the “deliberate infliction of pain” as a way to create discipline. Paddling itself is usually when a teacher uses a wooden paddle to hit disobedient children. It is a practice that was very common in the olden days. It was reserved for students who are especially naughty. Behavior like bullying or creating chaos in the classroom often resulted in a thorough whack. It is the final warning for those students who don’t respond to detention or suspension from school.
How did parents react to this decision? It definitely seems like a drastic measure. You might be surprised to learn that some parents actually wholeheartedly support the practice. Of course there are always going to be dissenting opinions. There are other schools that were horrified at the idea of teachers hitting their students. It creates fear that students might not like going to school anymore or that the paddling could turn into abuse.
The Three Rivers Independent School District in Texas recognizes that not all parents might want their children to be paddled. The district gives parents the ability to opt in. Parents need to provide written and verbal consent for paddling. The teacher’s association will remove a child from the list if a parent ever becomes uncomfortable with it. It is usually the parents who use paddling themselves at home who agree to the practice at school. They believe that it creates consistency that will encourage children to behave.
Paddling as a means of discipline is actually on the rise. 27 school districts have now adopted the practice. John B. King Jr., who is the Secretary of Education, is at the forefront of the resistance movement against paddling. He wrote a letter that describes why it should be banned. King alleges that 40,000 students, or over one-third of the students who receive corporal punishment, are black.
This is an outsized statistic given that only 16 percent of the total amount of public school students are black. Black boys are particularly likely to receive corporal punishment. They are 1.8 times more likely than white boys to receive it, while black girls are 2.9 times more likely than white girls to be punished this way. The schools that have decided to bring back paddling disagree with King’s claims. They state that prejudice or discrimination is not a factor. Paddling is merely a way to teach kids a lesson that they should behave while in school.