School District Votes To Bring Back Paddling For Disobedient Students
Corporal punishment is conceptually divisive — whether it be inflicted on convicted felons in a prison or third graders in an elementary school. On August 1, the Three Rivers Independent School District voted to bring back paddling as a form of discipline in three schools in the Southern Texas area. With the verbal and written consent of a child’s parents, any student aged four to eighteen may be paddled following any behavior deemed unruly. The idea was pitched by Andrew Amaro, the Three Rivers School District campus behavior coordinator. The school official spoke about these regulation developments and his own experiences being paddled in his youth. Amaro told the Caller-Times: “I believe it worked. It was an immediate response for me. I knew that if I got in trouble with a teacher and I was disrespectful, whatever the infraction was, I knew I was going to get a swat by the principal.” These new regulations allow paddling to be administrated by a campus behavior coordinator, such as Amaro, or a school principal. Naturally, this decision has been met with a large amount of backlash and outrage — with many arguing that paddling is “a step in the wrong direction.” Some parents assert the effectiveness of corporal punishment in the classroom; however, no psychological studies have found this type of discipline to be definitively positive.
Extremely note-worthy is that the word “unruly” is subjective. Even if a parent does give the “O.K.” on classroom paddling, he or she may not agree that the child’s behavior is in fact out of line. Additionally, studies show that students of color are far more likely to be targeted (read: paddled) by school officials. John B. King Jr., who served as the United States Secretary of Education from 2016 to 2017, spoke on how this ruling may particularly affect students of color. “Approximately 40,000 — or more than one-third — of those students who were subjected to corporal punishment are black; black students, by comparison, make up only 16 percent of the total public school student population,” King wrote. “Similarly, in states where students were subjected to corporal punishment, black boys were 1.8 times as likely as white boys to be subject to corporal punishment, and black girls were 2.9 times as likely as white girls to be subject to corporal punishment.” Paddles are currently being shipped to the Three Rivers Independent School District and will be incorporated into school activity this school year. What are your thoughts? Is corporal punishment acceptable or effective in the classroom — or in any setting?