Regardless of your stance on corporal punishment, it is difficult to argue that as corporal punishment has been pushed out of schools that violence and misbehavior of all sorts has made its way in. I understand that in a litigious society such as the one we live in now, it’s not very prudent to cause physical discomfort to a misbehaving child or teenager. With so many two-bit attorneys scanning the headlines looking for a situation where they can make a cheap buck at the expense of some municipality or large corporation that would rather settle than go through all the negative publicity of a trial, I can understand why schools are simply afraid to administer corporal punishment in most situations(that was a long sentence).
Parents are also to blame for the sad state of affairs in so many school systems in our country. Too many parents don’t teach their children about personal responsibility. They don’t teach their children that there are definite consequences for breaking the rules, regardless of how unfair they may think those rules are. “I’ll handle the punishment for my kid. That’s not the business of any teacher or principal or school.” Well handle it, then! I’m all for grounding and taking away privileges but nothing gets a kid’s attention more than a good, old-fashioned spanking. I remember feeling like I got off easy if all I came away with for a bad report card was being on “restriction” for six weeks. At least I didn’t get a whippin’!
There are lots of people, I am married to one, who were able to navigate through twelve years of school without ever having the “board of education” meet their buttocks. I was not one of them. Allow me to share some anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of corporal punishment.
Difficult as it may be to believe, when I was a teenager, I loved to talk. Not necessarily a bad thing but not something that should be freely practiced during class. My English teacher, Mrs. Ward, had warned me on more than one occasion on this particular day that I should cease and desist from conversing with my neighbors. When the last of those warnings had been issued and I still had not stopped talking, Mrs. Ward invited me out into the hall so that we could reason together about my lack of obedience to her request. This reasoning consisted of three whacks across my bum with a long, flat, maybe inch-and-a-half thick piece of wood. Guess what? It hurt. Bad. It was supposed to. I got over it. Guess how many more warnings had to be given to me that day for talking when I shouldn’t be. Zero. If the pain of the paddling didn’t do the trick, the pain of the paddling coupled with the humiliation of having to walk back to my desk, in front of all my classmates, especially the girls, fighting back tears while trying to look cool certainly accomplished Mrs. Ward’s objective. I’m sure I talked out of turn again at some future time in her class but it no doubt took a while.
Parents, you aren’t off the hook just yet! Here is the creed that my parents lived by when I was in school. If you get in trouble at school, you are in even more trouble when you get home. This meant if there was a paddling incident involving me at school that there would be a belt incident involving me at home. Didn’t matter if the teacher didn’t like me. Didn’t matter if it wasn’t fair. What did matter is that regardless of the circumstances, I was to always respect the authority of the teacher and his/her position in relation to me, a student. She was in charge. It was a dictatorship. I was to do what I was told, when I was told to do it and I was to do so with a smile. Allow me one more narrative to illustrate my point.
In all my years of school, I had only one teacher that my parents might have been tempted to take my side on in any sort of disagreement I might have had with her. There was one kid in my class who struggled considerably with making and keeping friends(if you read about my boxing career in an earlier post, it’s the same kid). One day this kid had gotten into trouble for something and our teacher asked him to go out into the hall and wait on her. As he made his way out, he had to walk by my desk at which point I attempted to trip him. Boy, was I cool! So cool that I was asked to join him in the hall. When our teacher came into the hall, she kicked me in my ankle. Not hard enough to really hurt but hard enough to make a point. She thought that I had kicked the other student and she was showing me how it felt.
There was no paddling that day, but that night our old 1980 phone rang. I answered, this was before the days of caller ID when I might have been able to somehow avoid the call, and immediately recognized the voice of my teacher. I figured her call was related to the events earlier in the day and my blood ran cold. My father said “uh-huh” several times, thanked her for calling, and hung up. He said that it was my teacher and that she had called to apologize for kicking me. After much deliberation throughout the day, I had determined that it was not necessary for me to share this incident with my parents and figured that was the end of it.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. My father asked for details, I shared them, and he whipped me. He punished me because what I did was uncalled for and even though the teacher had called to say she was sorry for what she had done to me, I’m the one who ended up in trouble.
I’d like to say I learned my lesson on both the occasions I’ve shared here. I suppose I didn’t, at least long-term, since there were countless more paddlings during my time in school. But I never took a gun to school with the intent of hurting someone. We carried pocket knives in our pockets and my friend Ricky had enough weaponry in the trunk of his car to defeat the army of a small, third-world country. We talked too much and would occasionally have a smart comment for a teacher. But we never once considered trying to hurt or kill a fellow student or a teacher for any reason at all. Imagine that.
School was fun for me. I got in trouble for many things in the twelve years I was in school. Especially during the seven years I went to Holtville. Corporal punishment was used on a regular basis and whether you like it or not, it worked. There aren’t many people who experienced it personally more than I did. Just ask my parents. It didn’t damage me physically or emotionally. I don’t have to go to counseling because of unresolved anger. I don’t resent a single teacher I ever had for doing the right thing in paddling me nor do I know anyone who does. Many of the teachers who paddled me when I was a child are now among the people who have had the most profound, positive impact on my life. I respect them and cherish the time I got to spend with them.
Corporal punishment can be used inappropriately. It has been and will be again. But so can legal, over the counter drugs, cars, guns, and just about anything else. That doesn’t mean it’s bad or wrong. I honestly believe that if corporal punishment were administered more often by teachers and administrators and even parents, that we’d see a positive change in our schools and in society as a whole.
As always, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.
I once had a teacher – which also worked as the baseball coach – that decided one day to give a day assignment so he could “catch up on grading papers.”He wasn’t grading any papers. He was making check marks by your name every time he caught you doing anything; passing notes, whispering to your neighbor, anything.I finished the assignment in about 15 minutes so I was doing all of the above since the class was an hour long and boredom is not my forte. At the end of the period I was far and away the leading “check getter” with 28 check marks by my name. Coach told us that the number of checks we had determined how many licks we would get with the paddle.I had so many that he said I could have 28… or one as hard as he wants. I chose the one. Remember I said this was the baseball coach? He grabbed the paddle like a baseball bat and swung for the fences. I couldn’t sit down the rest of the day.That was just one of the 20-something times I was “disciplined” my Senior year of high school.
That is a funny story! I’ve been down that road. I bet you thought twice about being neighborly. At least for a while.
I was paddled in the 5th grade by Mrs. Finley at Wetumpka Elementary School. I still blame Chris Motes for telling her I made a face. I didn’t make a face, I was a good girl. ha-ha!
Chris probably got a lot of people in trouble. And I didn’t ever do anything to deserve a paddling either, wink wink!
Thad, I shared this post with my colleagues at school today. You’re right on. Great column, as always.
Thanks Pat! At least I assume it’s Pat. My wife is a teacher and this is an issue that is pretty close to our hearts also!
First, is that Big Ricky or Little Ricky? Second, my parents’ favorite expression was, “well you did something”. No matter what great excuse I thought I had that’s all I heard. My teachers were never wrong. Never mistaken and I was never innocent. Today’s parents attitude is “not my little Johnny”. Their child has not done anything wrong so why should you spank him? And third, like you Thad some of the teachers who spanked, no whipped, no beat me (yes you Kyle Dawkins) are some of the best people I know. Coach Dawkins lit me up in 9th grade. We had just returned from getting physicals (another topic all together) and we were in the fieldhouse hitting each other with tackling dumbies. Coach stuck his head out of his office and announced that the next person he saw with a dumby in their hands would get licks. Enough said I walked outside. About five minutes later I walked back in and Scott Stafford yell “Troy”. I looked up and saw a tackling dumby flying right at me so I caught it. At the time I was unaware that my “friend” Scott saw Coach getting up from his desk and heading towards the door. Coach Dawkins opened the door and look at me just as I threw the dumby to the ground. “Get in here.” That’s all that was said. Of course I objected but in I went. Coach Dawkins is not a small man by any standards and those were three licks that like to have killed me. I told my dad what happened when he picked me up and you know what he said “you did something. He did not just whip you for nothing”. Yeah he did. That time, but it didn’t matter. I don’t remember anyone talking about sueing Goodwyn Jr. High School or Coach Dawkins. I got paddle, so what. Even if it was by mistake. I have since told Coach Dawkins that he did me wrong that day and you know what he said I’m sure you did something you need licks for. Of all the Coaches I’ve had I think I like Dawkins the best. P.S. John Maddaloni is gay. And you can tell him I said that.
Im not Anonymous, but it was the only way I could post it. Im Steve Pribulick.Thad,I’m one of those that usually sit back, read your blog, then smile, laugh, or shrug and move on. Today, I respond. I couldn’t agree with you more and those that have dared to venture into conversation with me about this very topic know I have a passion for the topic. You are spot on with this one. Corporal Punishment was an integral part of my development, and I turned out just fine. In fact, in my humble opinion, I turned out a lot better than some. Personally I think the difference was that my parents weren’t my friends until I had become a young adult (that would be post teen years for anyone that needs it explained). 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 year olds are not young adults, no matter what you think. I see so many of them on the roads late at night as we answer fire calls doing things and being places that their parents know nothing about. (Ducking under the desk now, because I just made someone have a revelation). We were then, they are now and they will be in the future, young people learning how to become adults. Therefore they need guidance from a parent, a mentor, they don’t need friends because they have those at school and in the neighborhood (or simply “the hood” if you prefer).The paddles were put away and the cell phones came out all about the same time. Along with staying out longer, being checked up on less and pretty much getting away with lots of things that parents don’t want to know about. My parents were the same as your parents, if I was in trouble at school, I was in trouble at home. The worst punishment was that long ride home, knowing that Dad would be waiting or not too far behind. Looking back at that and comparing it to some homes I am aware of today, I think it was a good policy. Back on this cell phone thing, checking in is what we did, in person. I was all but crucified in Sunday School one morning when I said that parents needed to be parents and not friends on the other end of a cell phone. I thought ducking was in order but I was steadfast and took the verbal punishment I was dealt. One of the nice ladies told me “My daughter has a cell phone so I know where she is at all times and know that she is safe” in her own little snide way. Ya, whatever, bet the GPS feature isn’t even on that phone. I digress, so I answered “I parent at the reach of an arm and not the touch of a button”. Whew, round two of that conversation was launched and I obviously hit a few nerves in that room that morning. My point is this; we were expected to do certain things. Respect those around us was at the top of the list and paddles helped that along greatly when we thought we were smart enough to challenge that. Sometimes all of this “time out” stuff just doesn’t get it. With some kids, it’s just a break in the action to let the mind figure out some other button to push. Corporal Punishment is a good thing, abuse is not. If you can’t draw the line, then neither are what you should be doing as a parent. Holding children accountable is a must.
Excellent comments. I can not add anything at all to it. Excellent, sir!
Hmm Holtville punishment at its finest….Coach Smart, Coach Stewart, Coach Waites, Mrs Findley, Mr Findley, Mrs Ward, Mr Lay, BT Gibbons, and Mr Earnest all could swing a mean paddle. I must say that those paddlings did alot for me although I didnt realize it at the time.
The thing that gets me is when a parent says their child doesn’t lie. Of course they lie, they’re kids! I know better than to believe everything my children say. Some parents are in for a rude awakening!
After careful consideration, the whippings at school were “appetizers” of sorts. I would get the “entree” from my mom when we got home. Then “dessert” when my dad got in from work. Three whippings for one offense… For the record, I still say that Mrs. Findley had the meanest paddle in the school! She had the “one bun” technique mastered! No disrespect to Mr. Earnest, Mrs. Ward, Coach Gray, Coach Stewart, Mrs. Wiley, Mr. Ellis, Coach Ellis, BT Gibbons, etc. And also for the record… I still respect, admire and care for all of these people for their “impact” on my life.
My sentiments exactly! Excellent nickname btw!
Such archaic zeitgeist can only attract fans from the bucolic Southern beltway of curmudgeons. It’s interesting to note that to the author’s own admission, along with many other posters, the mischievous nature of their adolescence was never calibrated throughout the school years even though the “corporal punishment” was religiously worshiped at the altar of impediment to the undesired behaviors. Physical punishment rarely, if ever, serves as a deterrent catalyst, especially among younger subjects. If any, for “some,” it would even encourage physical violence and degradation of one’s esteem. Throughout my 11 years of K-12, I’ve witnessed to kids being trounced by metal rulers, flagellation with self-made cables, drop kicked in the mid section rolling 20 stairs down to agony, pummeled in the stomach and kidneys, being swept off of feet while hoisted from one’s hair, breaking pencils between fingers, squirm ears until hearing loss persists for several hours, coerced to run bare foot for hours on snow and ice, choked, slammed into the walls and doors, stamped on, the whole Rodney King beat down etc. but interestingly enough, from my recollection, not one of the subjects ever illustrated an ensemble of penchant to alter his misconduct. veritably, it only made them more determine to avoid being cut and the reason is simple: You can’t beat the merit in to someone, you have to communicate it with them, especially when it comes to a young developing mind. Just because Thad sophomorically draws a conclusion from his upbringing, it doesn’t make his casual inference a universal order.P.S. Astute observation, why is it that everyone here recalls a paddling from his “coach” but no other teacher?
You said zeitgeist.
What does all of this have to do with properly administered corporal punishment? Perhaps next time you should refrain from trying to show me how intelligent you are by using words and phrases like “zeitgeist”, “flagellation”, “ensemble of penchant”, and “Rodney King beat down”, and actually try to make a valid point. Thanks for reading!
Thanks for saying exactly what I was thinking in reply to the last post, Thad. Aria, let us all know what sort of asset to society your offspring turns out to be.
I fail to see that corporal punishment made any difference to your disobedience in school. You say that:"I'd like to say I learned my lesson on both the occasions I've shared here. I suppose I didn't, at least long-term, since there were countless more paddlings during my time in school."Just because you didn't shoot someone just means that you weren't mentally deficient. If I use the proper logic, (a + B = c), corporal punishment only had a temporary effect, but no long term effect on your school behavior. To say that corporal punishment kept you from bringing a gun to school and killing your classmates is simply "r-tard" logic!