Springtown Texas has been in making national headlines because they've been allowing and even encouraging corporal punishment in schools and the debate has focused on whether or not an educator of the opposite sex should be allowed to administer the punishment. The following article has been reported in the Associated Press
Texas district expands corporal punishment policy
SPRINGTOWN, Texas (AP) Like many schools in Texas, "spare the rod and spoil the child" might be considered the motto at Springtown High School.
But when two teenage girls there reportedly suffered bruises after being paddled by male assistant principals, some parents complained. They weren't upset about the punishment itself, but instead that the school violated the policy requiring an educator of the same sex as the student to dole out the paddling.
So the school district has changed its policy to expand, not abolish, corporal punishment. Board members voted Monday night to let administrators paddle students of the opposite sex, after Superintendent Michael Kelley cited a lack of women administrators to carry out spankings.
The new policy says a same-gender school official must witness the paddling, which is just one "swat," and that parents also can request one spanking per semester. In all cases, a parent must give written permission and request it in lieu of another punishment, such as suspension or detention. full article
The time to start calling corporal punishment what it is, child abuse is long overdue; this is especially true when it is used in excess but even when it is used in a manner that is considered moderate it routinely tends to escalate. There has been an enormous amount of research that clearly indicates that this does far more harm than good and there are better ways to accomplish the same goal without the same negative effects. Alice Miller author of "For Your Own Good" (free on-line copy) is one of many academic researchers who has provided a compelling argument about the fact that The Roots of Violence are NOT Unknown. Barbara Coloroso author of "Kids are Worth it" (accompanying web page with additional lectures etc.) Has gone farther and provided an enormous amount of advice on alternative ways of disciplining children that don't involve violence. She expands on the methods that have been developed by Benjamin Spock and other earlier child rearing advocates. I have also done several blogs on this subject including Does child abuse and bullying lead to more violence? and Child abuse and bullying link in study long overdue. these blogs also cite additional sources.
There is no shortage of evidence or research to indicate that corporal punishment is counter productive and that it leads to escalating violence later in life; there is just a shortage in the willingness of many people to acknowledge this and of the most powerful institutions, including the mass media and the political system, to educate the majority of the public about this. The research cited in the previous links also provides an enormous amount of evidence that indicates that corporal punishment teaches children to obey orders without question; not to scrutinize these orders; reduces empathy and limits the development of critical thinking skills; and it causes many other long term problems. This includes the ability to participate in the democratic process and to recognize propaganda and lies from politicians or even deceptive advertising. This may seem like a lot to many who are unfamiliar with the research that backs this up; and it would be reasonable for people to remain skeptical until they understand how many researchers or I came to these conclusions, but I have no doubt that if they took the time to review it many of them would agree. Alice Miller explained some of this in the following excerpt:
There is a good deal else that would not exist without "poisonous pedagogy." It would be inconceivable, for example, for politicians mouthing empty clichÃ©s to attain the highest positions of power by democratic means. But since voters, who as children would normally have been capable of seeing through these clichÃ©s with the aid of their feelings, were specifically forbidden to do so in their early years, they lose this ability as adults. The capacity to experience the strong feelings of childhood and puberty (which are so often stifled by child-rearing methods, beatings, or even drugs) could provide the individual with an important means of orientation with which he or she could easily determine whether politicians are speaking from genuine experience or are merely parroting time-worn platitudes for the sake of manipulating voters. Our whole system of raising and educating children provides the power-hungry with a ready-made railway network they can use to reach the destination of their choice. They need only push the buttons that parents and educators have already installed. Alice Miller "Thou Shat Not Be Aware" p.20
Corporal punishment also prevents children from learning to scrutinize religions and it leads to escalating bigotry and hatred, since it tends to anger children from an early age and they often only get positive feedback from their parents, if they're bigoted or devoutly religious if they adopt the appropriate beliefs, including prejudices; as I attempted to explain in Dobson's Indoctrination Machine and Cause and Effect of Hatred. Corporal punishment is used most widely in the most authoritarian parts of the country and this leads to the heaviest volume of religious fanaticism and it also increases crime in the long run.
Texas is the same state where Judge William Adams was caught on video tape beating his daughter in a video that went viral last year (Judge Says Daughter's Beating was 'Discipline'). According to a recent article, Judge William Adams May Return To Bench Despite Viral Video Of Him Beating His Daughter. This judge was in charge of family and juvenile cases before he was suspended and if he is allowed to be put back on the bench he may wind up doing that again.
This video clearly shows that this judge can't control his own temper and is not emotionally prepared to return to his position. The fact that he continues to insist that his behavior is justified only ads to the evidence that he shouldn't be allowed to return to the bench. Allowing a judge, that does that to his own daughter, to return to supervising children in court could only lead to additional escalation of violence. This is part of the history of many violent felons that have gone through abusive upbringing that has been continued as an adult in a variety of manners. This includes bullying in school and in many cases when they get charged with crimes in prison. This authoritarian manner of teaching people to conform is also used in military boot camp. As much as many of us like to believe that the soldiers we send to war are heroes the evidence doesn't always confirm that. In fact one former recruiter for the army was just executed in Texas as this story was being reported. The establishment routinely treats executions of veterans as isolated incidents but they're much more common than most people realize. There are an enormous amount of veterans that wind up turning violent and wind up in jail.
Absurd Springtown episode shows how swatting students is archaic, wrong and counterproductive
If an adult man hits a teenage girl with a piece of wood leaving her bruised, you might call it assault.
If he does it with another adult watching, it sounds perverted, and the bystander shares the blame.
In Springtown, they call it a school disciplinary policy.
But it's wrong-headed and counterproductive.
Texas remains one of 19 states that perpetuate the archaic disciplinary practice in which school districts can let adults hit minors. That's incongruous if physical and emotional violence are banned in schools and actively discouraged elsewhere as "bullying."
The National Association of Secondary School Principals, which opposes corporal punishment, says it can cause worse behavior and hurt achievement. NASSP Board Position Statements | Corporal Punishment
Instead of eliminating corporal punishment in schools the town of Springfield expanded it; whether they understand what they're doing or not this will lead to an escalation of violence if it is allowed to continue. The people raised in this fashion rarely understand how much damage it does to them and how counterproductive it is and when confronted with it they often deny any research that over whelming indicates how counterproductive this is. There needs to be a much better Public relation campaign for child abuse prevention to inform more people about how much damage this does. Even the parents that were outraged continue to support what they consider "reasonable" corporal punishment and the daughter that appeared on TV seemed to be quite happy with her mother now that she was on her side. It is hard to know if this was partly because she was getting positive media attention which presented her well or not but there is a good possibility that she could grow up to believe that this is appropriate if it is what she considers "reasonable," and she could do the same to her own children. Unfortunately the corporate media hasn't been willing to provide much if any good coverage about this subject sop that more people would understand how serious this is. Instead they routinely provide an enormous amount of coverage for shows like Nancy Grace that have the opposite effect. Until there is media reform there is still a lot that can be done at the grass roots to inform more people and this could lead to more pressure on the corporate media to cover it better.
The Supreme Court should also overturn Ingraham v. Wright which is the nineteen seventies decision that allowed this to continue.
Shortly after I posted this entry a story was reported about Texas Southern University Suspends Famed Ocean Of Soul Marching Band After Report Of Hazing which involves paddling as part of a hazing ritual. This is one of the behavior patterns that corporal punishment encourages and it is also part of an indoctrination process that escalates in college fraternities. College kids are encouraged to go along with the crowd and to obey orders from their upperclassmen. This is part of the process that continues the teaching of authoritarianism and increases bigotry in many cases as well. It is also used to teach fraternity members to defend their own class, which leads to more inequalities in income from those that control the system.
Julie Worley also provided the following links on the subject on a previous occasion which I thought would be worth reposting.
Don't beat Black Kids.com or any other kids.