Saturday, September 6, 2008

Swatting students

Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at I wrote my latest blog post on inhuman conditions in the public schools, I returned to The Principal's Office program to see...paddling! Is this 1920?

If you'd like to view it yourself, feel free.


Students receiving Saturday detention in this Arkansas school can choose to give up the morning half for three smacks on the clothed rear with a paddle the preceding Friday. In all cases, this was the only choice presented to students -- there was no defending themselves against the accusations, as I guess we can expect.

Die Unartigen Kinder

Here's an interesting article from the APA titled "Is Corporal Punishment an Effective Means of Discipline?" The conclusion: It's good for one thing -- short-term compliance with authoritarian demands.

"While conducting the meta-analysis, which included 62 years of collected data, Gershoff looked for associations between parental use of corporal punishment and 11 child behaviors and experiences, including several in childhood (immediate compliance, moral internalization, quality of relationship with parent, and physical abuse from that parent), three in both childhood and adulthood (mental health, aggression, and criminal or antisocial behavior) and one in adulthood alone (abuse of own children or spouse).

"Gershoff found 'strong associations' between corporal punishment and all eleven child behaviors and experiences.
Ten of the associations were negative such as with increased child aggression and antisocial behavior. The single desirable association was between corporal punishment and increased immediate compliance on the part of the child."
[emphasis mine]

Here's a recent article from CNN about the topic: "More than 200,000 kids spanked at school." According to the article, corporal punishment is legal in 21 states. It's most common in the South and it's disproportionately applied to racial minorities and special-education students.

After the girl in the episode receives her three licks, her reaction is telling. She shrugs and says it didn't hurt as bad as she expected and that it was totally worth it to be able to goof off for the next morning.

What was missing from her reaction was any sense of penitence or remorse, any mention of the infraction that brought her the punishment, any resolve not to commit that offense in the future, any appreciation for the principal who corrected her so righteously on the path to becoming a moral person...

And does it not seem yucky to anyone else that a man is closeted in his office with a female student, smacking her on the behind?

Like I said, bizarre.


Red Flashlight said...

Omigosh yes. It's creepy. And very surprising that it's still legal in 21 states. In law school I learned that, while legal, the local school board controls policy around corporal punishment and, at least in Colorado, most school boards do not allow corporal punishment. My Professor was blunt on this point - legislators claim they are powerless to introduce legislation against it, so parents should just "run for school board" if they want to see changes. Seems like a heavy burden to impose on the parents for such a basic human right.

Lauren Wayne said...

That is really weird. Now that you mention it, I went to elementary school in Colorado and remember the vague threat of corporal punishment passed around the students like a spooky legend. I never knew anyone personally who'd been on the receiving end, however.

I just found this interesting site that lists corporal-punishment laws by state: It includes ideas for what parents and kids can do if corporal punishment is allowed and they want to opt out. Like you said, it's unfair to place such a burden upon the parents (or the kids!). I guess it's at least somewhere to start.

Zoie said...

Thank you for including this post for Spank Out Day. I am in a bit of shock that even parents who condone spanking would be alright letting someone else spank their kids. Okay, I can't wrap my brain around that one at all. I'll have to think about that for awhile...

I am not surprised that spanking is still as prevalent as it is. Even when something has been thoroughly debunked, that whole "it was done to me and I'm fine" argument rears its ugly head. If that was modeled to you for parenting, and your pretty disconnected from reality because of said treatment, it makes sense that you might perpetuate it on your kids.

Seeing spanking for what it truly is can be too painful to admit about yourself or your parents. I'm glad that more people are talking about it and I'm hopeful the message that spanking doesn't work gets out there. That, I think, people can get on board with

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