When I was in 7th grade I took a spool of thread and wound it around a group of chairs in Home Economics class. It was quite fun watching people trip, until I got called down to the principal's office and was threatened with paddling.
I will never forget my thoughts. The principal said how would you like to put your hands up on the wall and I paddle you? The room became smaller and much darker. I envisioned the whole event as he was saying it. He threatened me but never did it. I was warned.
I was never paddled in my home or hit. My parents did do their fair share of yelling though. Needless to say the thought of being paddled frightened me to the point of only using thread to make a skirt in Home Economics thereafter and save the jokes for another class.
Hitting was permissible in my school system in Ohio at that time, but today it is not. In the news recently we have seen a few athletes knock out girl friends and also whip their kids until there were welts on their bodies. Some parents still feel that it is a useful tool in teaching discipline.
How prevalent is corporal punishment in our school systems? Is it still an accepted form of discipline?
The Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that spanking or paddling by school officials or teachers is lawful where it has not been explicitly outlawed by local authorities. That decision still stands, and corporal punishment is still permitted in 19 states. It is used regularly in three states -- Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, according to C. Farrell of World Corporal Punishment Research.
So what do they use to paddle students? Most U.S. schools use a wooden paddle across the (clothed) behind. A typical punishment consists of two or three strokes, usually administered by the principal or deputy principal, or at least done in his or her presence.
It is less likely nowadays to be done on the spur of the moment, and more likely to require formal bureaucratic procedures and specific documentation. This affords greater legal certainty, and also helps guard against the danger of angry teachers resorting to random violence.
Any student in those 19 states could feel the paddle on their backside. A 2009 study by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union found a disproportionate number of students struck by educators were disabled, at 18.8% of the total during the 2006-2007 school year.
Nowadays female as well as male students are eligible for paddling -- or "whipping," as it's sometimes called -- but statistics consistently suggest that around 75% to 85% of paddlings involve boys.
Age is no barrier when it comes to getting the backsided message. Students as young as 4 can receive the paddle and as old as 19. Each school district will have age restrictions and policies.
So what can cause getting an imprint on your little bottom?
These are some of the more common offenses: fighting, tardiness, dress code violations, misbehavior on the school bus, defiance, smoking, public display of affection, parking/driving offenses, profanity, and bullying, among many others.
A few schools operate a system whereby specific offenses attract a stated number of demerits, and a paddling is automatic upon accumulating a certain number of demerits in a semester.
One significant exception to these lapses of moral conduct or judgments is that sports coaches are often empowered to spank athletes for failing grades, when lack of effort at school work can mean losing their hard-won place on the team.
Like anything in life there are choices.
To a much greater extent than in the past, paddling has become in many schools an option for either the student or the parent, or both. Older teens, especially, may be offered a choice between a spanking and, say, detention or in-school suspension. Many school handbooks, particularly at high school level, lay down precise equivalences either in general or for specific offenses.
Many schools offer parents the opportunity to register in writing their desire that their son or daughter not be paddled, but often stress that, in that case, the only alternative is suspension.
Some school districts, rather than allowing parents to "opt out," now require them to explicitly "opt in" before the paddle can be used, but in most places that generally permit corporal punishment, the convention is still that a student may be spanked unless there is a parental opt-out notice already on file in the office.
To see how many disabled and non-disabled students received corporal punishment in your school in 2011-2012, visit this site and search for your school.
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