It has widely been known for some time that the act of spanking children teaches them violence is okay in a loving relationship and is a causal factor in making children more aggressive later in life. However, the manner in which parents interact with their children is personal and private, and most assuredly no matter of the state.
Obviously, causing grave physical harm to a child is child abuse, which can be argued as a separate issue. But, when the state claims the authority to use violence against children, an entirely separate issue arises and should be cause for concern.
A school district in Missouri is reportedly reinstating corporal punishment under a new policy which will allow school staff to use paddles on students who misbehave in school.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, the Cassville School District in southwest Missouri said the new policy allows students to be punished with a paddle if "other means of discipline have failed and only in reasonable form."
The district superintendent, Merlyn Johnson has brought back the policy after the district abandoned it in 2001.
"My plan, when I came to Cassville, wasn't to be known as the guy who brought corporal punishment back to Cassville. I didn't want that to be my legacy and I still don't," he said. "But it is something that has happened on my watch and I'm OK with it."
Sadly enough, Johnson said that parents were actually asking him why teachers couldn't hit their kids.
"Parents have said 'why can't you paddle my student?' and we're like 'We can't paddle your student, our policy does not support that,'" Johnson told Springfield News-Leader. "There had been conversation with parents and there had been requests from parents for us to look into it."
"We've had people actually thank us for it," he said, saying much of the opposition is coming from outside of the district. "Surprisingly, those on social media would probably be appalled to hear us say these things but the majority of people that I've run into have been supportive."
Currently, corporal punishment in schools is banned in 128 countries, but is still legal in public schools in 18 U.S. states.
As TFTP has previously reported, analyzing data from the U.S. Department of Education, shows that a shocking level of corporal punishment -- where school personnel physically strike a child -- is still being carried out in public schools.
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Most of this barbarity is carried out in southeastern states, and there appears to be a great deal of prejudice. In many states, children with disabilities were 50% more likely to receive corporal punishment than non-disabled children. In Alabama and Mississippi, black children were 51% more likely to be physically punished than white children in more than half of school districts — despite making up a much smaller portion of the population.
Mississippi also has the dubious honor of being the state with the highest frequency, with 1 in 14 kids being physically struck by school personnel.
The behavior leading to corporal punishment ranges from bullying or setting off fireworks in school to “being late to class, failing to turn in homework, violating dress codes, running in the hallway, laughing in the hallway, sleeping in class, talking back to teachers, going to the bathroom without permission, mispronouncing words, and receiving bad grades.”
Even more disturbing, a review of 2003 data found that 10,000-20,000 children had to get medical treatment for bruises, hematomas, broken bones, and nerve and muscle damage after being struck by school authorities.
Shockingly enough, the state gets more leniency in regard to the damage they can inflict on a child. Parents who have committed similar acts against their children have gone to jail.
In many cases, if a parent carried out the same punishment it would be considered abuse and give cause for the state to take their child away. One nurse, after treating an injury from corporal punishment, testified that she would have called child protective services if it had happened at home instead of school.
Missouri even “explicitly prevents its child protective services department from having any jurisdiction to investigate allegations of child abuse stemming from school corporal punishment.”
Even animals have better protection than children in public schools. In most U.S. states, hitting an animal to the point of injury is a felony, but doing the same to a child is exempt from child maltreatment laws in most states where corporal punishment in schools is legal.
While many folks may applaud corporal punishment as a means of instilling discipline in children, the fact remains that it is the state carrying it out. If you need an example as to why that's a bad idea, imagine your worst political rival and then imagine that person having the ability to physically hurt your child.
What's more, statistics show that although parents claim it helps instill discipline in their children, the fact is that it simply doesn't. In fact, it has the opposite effect. In states where corporal punishment is legal, there is a coefficient of correlation between prison admissions and school corporal punishments. What this illustrates is that corporal punishment in school actually fuels a significant increase in future delinquency and criminality.
While it is certainly up to parents where and how they discipline their children, when you grant the state the ability to inflict physical harm on your own kids, you are making a dangerous concession. In a country that claims to be one of the most advanced on earth, its most defenseless citizens are left vulnerable to state authorities who believe physically injuring children is the path to educational success.