School District Punishment Seen As Controversial Among Parents

When you think of a child getting paddled at school, you might think of a one-room school-house with a child dressed in knickers being swatted by a schoolmarm in a bustle. It's hard to believe, but paddling hasn't gone away.

Even in this day and age, there are some schools who use it as a disciplinary tool. One school board in Texas recently voted to allow paddling in the classroom.

Parents are split on the decision.

On Tuesday, Three Rivers Independent School District board approved using corporal punishment in a 6-0 vote. One member of the board was absent.

Teachers can now inflict pain on students by paddling, spanking, slapping or using other means of physical punishment.

Parents will have to provide written and verbal consent for a paddling to take place. They are allowed to opt out if they don't approve of the punishment method.

“If the parent is not comfortable with it, that’s the end of the discussion,” said Superintendent Mary Springs.

If their parents agree, when kids misbehave at school, they could get one paddle swat. The new punishment will be instituted when children return to school in the fall.

Some people believe that spankings are the only thing that really helps teach some kids to behave. One person who agreed with the vote is campus behavior coordinator, Andrew Amaro, who says he remembers being paddled, and how effective it was.

“I believe it worked,” Amaro said.

“It was an immediate response for me. I knew that if I got in trouble with a teacher and I was disrespectful, whatever the infraction was, I knew I was going to get a swat by the principal.”

Some parents have pointed out that corporal punishment has been proven a less effective means of discipline than non-violent punishments.

"Do a little research on kids who were spanked and see that they are much more likely to end up in prison than kids who were disciplined with other methods. Paddling has no place in any school or home," said one parent on the KHOU-TV Facebook page.

"If anyone ever touched my kid, I would beat them senseless. Nope, no way, I would pay for private school," said another.

The school plans to track the incidents in order to evaluate whether the means of punishment is effective in deterring inappropriate behavior among students.

"We will look at how many discipline referrals were made compared to last year and how many times (corporal punishment) was administered," the superintendent said. "If it reduces the number of discipline referrals, then that is a good thing."

Texas teachers being able to swat their students isn't uncommon. In the United States, some 15 states have districts that allow corporal punishment.

Eight states don't have laws prohibiting it. Most of the states that allow corporal punishment are in the south and southeast.

They're generally known as 'Bible belt' states, which is not surprising. Conservative Christian groups have been known to advocate corporal punishment at home and in schools more often than their secularized counterparts.

Not all districts in these states support corporal punishment, though. The district in Sealy banned the practice in 2015.

"We think that corporal punishment should be a family decision, not a school decision," said the superintendent of the district, Sheryl Moore.

"We will provide the parent with all the information necessary regarding the situation so they can decide whether they think that's appropriate. But that's not something the school district wants to be involved in."

Source: USA Today, CBS News
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, YouTube

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