Letters: Corporal punishment? That's a paddlin'

Contributed To The Press • Feb 11, 2018 at 12:00 AM

We asked you with Monday’s Question of the Week to let us know your thoughts on corporal punishment in schools. Here are some of your responses.

Bible, researchers say discipline is righteous

Despite the headline, research certainly does not prove that “no good comes from spanking.” Jarman’s letter (Feb. 1) is long on claims but short on data or even any reference to data.

Older research confounded spanking with corporal punishment which in older studies included obvious physical abuse (e.g., scaling a child with boiling water). Others have documented this and other serious research problems and contradictions (e.g., R.E. Larzelere et al., 2010). More recent researchers have found positive correlations with spanking as used as part of a discipline program that includes encouragement, setting appropriate goals, etc. For example, M. L. Gunnoe (2009) found that children aged 2-6 whose discipline included spanking did better academically and in terms of self-image than those of children whose parents did not incorporate spanking as part of their child rearing. ON a societal scale, J. Fuller (2010) found tremendous increases in juvenile crime in countries that have banned spanking for over a decade.

Spanking as part of a considered positive approach the child discipline of young children should be encouraged despite nonsense as presented in Jarman’s letter. As Hebrews 12:11 declares “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruits of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”



Paddling breaks student-teacher trust

I happened to be in my school’s office and handy to witness a paddling in my principal’s office at least 35 years ago. Though opposed to corporal punishment, I didn’t ask to be excused although I could have.

I learned something important though. The look in that seventh-grade boy’s eyes as he walked out of the office past me I’ve never forgotten. It sure wasn’t remorse or shame or even loss of dignity. He was one of my students, and it took a good while to restore the positive relationship we’d had before. The feeling I’d had at the moment was a strong sense that two adults had just lost the high ground.

I had the same feeling lately after reading about police officers being called to handcuff a 7-year-old in a school situation. If we adults can figure no better way to “maintain discipline and order within the public schools” then we’re really not suited for the work. Kudos to Elizabethton’s Susan Peters for speaking up.



Corporal punishment teaches children the wrong lessons

I settled in Elizabethton partly because of its excellent school system. This past year has left me wondering if the ECS school board is trying to ruin it.

First, last summer the board tried to secretly reorganize the elementary schools before nearly 800 parents signed petitions in opposition.

Now, the board approved corporal punishment. Why?

If the goal is to improve student behavior, then ECS should prohibit corporal punishment. Children who are paddled become more vindictive and rebellious. They become more antisocial and aggressive toward siblings, parents, teachers, and schoolmates. School-sanctioned violence leads to higher student homicide rates and increases domestic violence and criminal behavior once students become adults. It does not teach students to be less violent: it teaches that violence is legitimate.

If the goal is to improve education, then ECS should prohibit corporal punishment. It leads to students with lowered abilities in planning and abstract thinking. School avoidance and dropouts increase. Even ACT test scores are impacted.

If the goal is to create children who are mentally and physically strong, then ECS should prohibit corporal punishment. Victimized children become withdrawn, depressed, anxious, and afraid, with increased negative high-risk behaviors and drug/alcohol abuse. Many children need medical treatment after being beaten by school personnel (some die!). Regulations over paddling are rarely enforced.

Everyone is harmed when the school atmosphere becomes threatening. Special education students are especially harmed.

Is the board unaware of the consequences of this vote? Have they failed to research best practices? Do they care?

Violence cannot be sanctioned among educational authority figures. Susan Jacobs is the lone board member to value a safe learning environment where children are respected and understood. I look forward to this year’s elections to begin voting the rest of those brutal board members out of their office.



Keep an eye out on Mondays for more Questions of the Week, but you may send us letters about any topic important to you. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com.

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