Should Schools Be Able To Hit Your Kids?

Filed under: Opinions

Among the many issues that arise when you have children is how to discipline them, including spankings. Most of us stand on one side of the issue or the other. Something many of us never think much about is corporal punishment in school.

But it happens. According to CBS 2 Chicago, hundreds of Chicago public school children have been beaten by teachers, coaches and staff. The details are upsetting and horrifying. But just as disturbing is the fact that many of them have not been fired or even heavily disciplined. Why not?




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Simply put, they believe paddling a student will lead to better behavior. Where to begin?

An article from the New York Times illustrates this idea well. Most of the schools that still practice corporal punishment, it explains, are in the rural South and lower Midwest. In fact, one supporter of paddling and other methods of discipline, DuBose Ravenel, MD, a pediatrician and corporal punishment expert for James C. Dobson's evangelical Focus on the Family group, was quoted as saying: "I believe the whole country would be better off if corporal punishment was allowed in schools by parents who wish it."

First of all, how can you say that the world would be a better place if teachers were allowed to hit their students? Middle school principal Anthony Price of Texas says, "The rule is, never hit in anger." But that's nonsense. While I'm sure that there are cases where the punishment is meted out in a calm and measured fashion, the world is filled with kooks, and teachers can be just as kooky as anyone else (guns on a Facebook page, anyone?). If you tell them this type of punishment is acceptable, there are bound to be problems.

Secondly, what kind of message does this send to children? With domestic abuse -- Chris Brown and Rihanna being only one sad example if what we've heard is true -- people talk about "the cycle of violence." A father beats his children, and that child grows up to beat his own children, or his wife or gets into fights with peers. (This issue is addressed by the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation.) Why should schools be included in that cycle?

Another argument is that the "parents want it" line. That's not how school works. I had a professor in college who once said that when you buy an airline ticket, you don't get to fly the plane. Schools can't cater to the whims of each parent, especially public schools. Does Dr. Ravenel think that each teacher should have a list indicating which student can be paddled? Perhaps they can wear stickers?

Finally, there's the idea that practicing corporal punishment is just another "community" issue. That is, if the community approves of it, it's okay. That doesn't wash. Why not? Because some things are just plain wrong. Hitting a child on the butt with a paddle until welts appear is wrong. If a teacher is the one doing the paddling, it's even more wrong. It's not a complicated issue.

What do you think? Should schools be allowed to use corporal punishment when students misbehave?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.