Students have good manners in paddling schools in the South

To the Editor:

I think that the only person that should be allowed to paddle is the principal. I have visited schools in the South and it works very well there. The children’s manners are better and they certainly show more respect to the teachers.

M.J. Clarke, Frederick

Paddling teaches kids that hitting solves problems

To the Editor:

School paddling is legalized child abuse. Hitting children with boards is wrong. It leaves bruises and teaches children by example that hitting is the way to solve problems.

Twenty-eight states have banned corporal punishment in schools.

See www.nospankingzone.org for photos of children badly bruised from school paddling.

Jimmy Dunne, People Opposed to Paddling Students, Houston

School paddling ineffective, breeds violent adults

To the Editor:

I view with interest the debate over physical punishment in public schools. I hope the debate will result in the elimination of this form of child abuse.

The practice of paddling is a long-outdated exercise that has been abandoned by quality school systems throughout the country. In fact, the practice is outlawed in 28 of our 50 states. In addition, physical punishment in schools has been forbidden in all European countries and is even disappearing in the Third World. The reason is simple. Doing violence to children is not only ineffective but also counterproductive in establishing a strong educational environment. It’s a practice that belongs in the dark ages.

Paddling in schools provides a convenient haven for teachers and administrators who are incompetent, violent, vindictive and even emotionally disturbed. The results can be long term. Students who are so abused can suffer severe emotional problems and may show up later in life as violent and destructive members of society. It’s safe to say that many adults in our penal system were hit repeatedly by parents and teachers under the guise of discipline.

Having grown up in a school where the principal seemed to enjoy terrorizing and brutalizing children with his paddle, I know how off-base it is to posit any positive value in this practice. Even as a kid, I knew that our principal was a coward and fool (as are all adults who get their kicks from hitting kids). His paddle spoke more about his own weak ego than keeping order in our school.

Surely the citizens of Cumberland are more astute than to subject your children to this kind of abuse.

The Rev. Thomas E. Sagendorf, United Methodist Clergy, Hamilton, Ind.

U.S. one of few nations that still allow paddling abuse in schools

To the Editor:

The abuse of children in schools is slowly being ended in America. A majority of states have already banned it. In some states without a ban, individual communities have taken it upon themselves to end this oppressive tactic.

Hitting children teaches them that hitting is appropriate when they do not like what someone else is doing. If they learn violence in school as small children, how violent will they be when they are older and bigger and stronger?

Hitting children in schools says more about the adults involved than it does about the behavior of the children. Can’t the adults find a creative way to teach a child self-discipline in the ways that they impose discipline in the school?

The United States is one of the few countries left in the world that still permits adults to abuse children in this way. Dozens of countries around the globe have given up this form of punishment because they have found that it really doesn't work. It does not teach children the lessons that we thought it would back in the 20th century. Countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas have all found more effective ways to deal with the errant behavior of children in their charge.

I think we can too.

Gerrie Blum, Copaigue, N.Y.

Spankings shouldn’t have stopped, but it’s too late now

To the Editor:

Don’t call the parents in to do it; if they can’t come in and do it, kick the kid out of school so the other students can learn.

I think it is a little too late to be asking this question. Spankings should never have been stopped ether at school or at home. The damage has already been done. All you have to do is walk downtown, and look and listen.

I was born and raised in Cumberland with spankings at school and home.

John Blizzard, Cumberland

Paddling but one tool to help maintain student discipline

To the Editor:

Being a product of the school system in Allegany County and a graduate of Valley High School, I can speak to the discipline 35-plus years ago when I was in school.

It was not great then, but we had that ultimate fear of going to the principal. I am the principal at New Market School in Northern Alabama, and we still have the authority to use corporal punishment and do so in a very careful organized way. As the principal, I am the only one who administers corporal punishment, and it is a great deterrent in most cases for elementary and middle school students.

Respect is demanded of all students, and parents are involved in the education and discipline of their children. Parents who do not wish for their child to receive this type of punishment have two choices: They can come to school and discipline the child themselves, or they can pick them up from school for a suspension.

Corporal punishment is not the answer to all discipline problems, but is only a small tool that can and must be used with great tact and care.

Dan Evans, Principal, New Market School, Ala., Valley Class of ’69

Paddling a child is physical abuse that fosters more abuse

To the Editor:

Corporal punishment is an outdated and ineffective practice. No teachers’ college in the United States teaches prospective teachers how to hit children. They are taught effective classroom management techniques. Corporal punishment is rarely used for “last resort” issues, in fact, it is the first line of discipline for the most minor of offenses in many schools.

Corporal punishment is used more frequently on minorities, boys, and disabled children. Its use is highest in low-performing schools. Injuries occur, sometimes severe. School boards would be wise to eliminate policies that allow teachers to hit students.

Over 100 major organizations have taken position statements that favor banning corporal punishment in schools. This list includes the major medical, social, and academic groups in the United States. Twenty-nine states have banned its use. The United States should join the rest of the industrialized world and put an end to this barbaric practice.

We may as well not spend one thin dime on domestic violence prevention if we are going to allow teachers to perform this act of violence. In any other walk of life, picking up a wooden board and striking another human is called “assault with a deadly weapon.” We no longer hit prisoners, mental patients, wives, or animals. Why would we think hitting a school child is a good idea?

Abuse knows no boundaries. When a child is struck and bruised with an implement, be it in the classroom, the home, or a church, it is abuse. It is time to open our eyes to this issue, and protect our children.

Please visit the campaign Web site — www.nospank.net — to see pictures of school children who have been paddled and injured by educators. I am personally assisting the child who is shown in the eighth photo down. The North Carolina State Board of education has not taken any action against the teacher who inflicted these injuries to this student. He remains in the classroom to date, and is a continued risk to the safety of children. Would you entrust this teacher to the care or discipline of your child? I would not, and am working hard to protect our children.

Peggy Dean, RN, Member, Board of Directors, Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education

The boy you paddle today will be bigger than you someday

To the Editor:

In 1980 Kerry and I were married and I became the stepfather of a 7-year-old boy. I didn’t have any prior experience with fatherhood, I hadn’t read any books, but I realized that a relationship based on force would not work: In not too many years, the cute little 7-year-old would be bigger and stronger than I, and then where would I be?

What are we trying to accomplish in school? Mr. Boden implies that our goal is to maintain discipline and instill a respect for authority. Those may be worthy goals (though I would distinguish between respect for authority and fear of authority), but surely there’s more. We want, among other things, to teach our children how to get along with others, how to resolve disputes — and how to do this without resorting to force or threats of force. By paddling students, we teach them that violence is how to get others to do what we want. The next thing you know, we’re waging a preemptive war against Iraq rather than relying on the development of relationships and on diplomacy.

Neither Mr. Kerns nor Mr. Boden cites any empirical research to support their positions — surely there have been studies — but I find it noteworthy that four presumably respectable organizations are listed as having taken a stand against paddling, while no paddling advocates are listed.

Finally, it seems to me that you are having trouble coming up with Faceoff topics. I suggest you give Faceoff a summer vacation: Let it return refreshed after Labor Day.

Rev. Dave Hunter, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Greater Cumberland

Paddling no better than bullying, and it didn’t work for Dave

To the Editor:

Dave Boden is in the minority of folks in this country who believe that paddling should be allowed in schools. It has lost favor for several reasons, as Richard Kerns notes.

It has been banned because it can lead to injuries of students and lawsuits against school districts. It teaches kids that “might makes right” — an adult hitting a student with a board is about as good a picture of bullying as you can find. It doesn’t build character and it doesn’t make kids law-abiding as adults. The states with the most paddling are states with the largest proportion of their adult population in jail.

Mr. Boden’s history destroys the argument given by some paddling educators that just the threat of paddling improves school behavior. Despite the principal’s plan to use the paddle and his father’s plan to give him another dose when he got home, he says he still took a few whippings in school.

Corporal punishment is dangerous, ineffective and doesn’t work. It deserves to go the way of the outhouse.

Nadine Block, Executive Director, The Center for Effective Discipline, Columbus, Ohio

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