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December 12, 2005

Schools and paddles

On occasion the news brings an interesting juxtaposition of stories.

On Nov. 30 there was a front-page Star article concerning a school where, when necessary, officials dared use a paddle on recalcitrant students. “We have no serious disciplinary problems,” the principal said.

On an inside page that same day, a story told of some teachers who had staged a walkout. Why? Because there was little discipline in their Kansas City school. They said they were afraid of the students.

Shortly thereafter, Richard Adams (12/9, Voices) excoriated James Dobson for daring to suggest that spanking, done properly, might be an excellent deterrent in some cases of indiscipline. Adams’ response: “Children should never be spanked.”

On that same day, on Page A-2 of The Star, there was a story about four teens who I can only imagine were never spanked. They beat a man to death and then gleefully took their friends to see his body. They will get a taste of real discipline while serving life sentences in a penitentiary.

Dobson’s spare-the-rod-and-spoil-the-child advice could have been a wonderful blessing to those boys and those four families. But no. Don’t spank children. It might show that you really love them.

Victor Sutch



If the parents don't step up, having the school beat the kid won't help either.


Having gone through schools and received my fair share of detentions I can say they don't deter any behavior. I didn't care whether I had to stay after school or not. Nor did most of the people who were often in detention. I think that ideally you do leave it to the parent, however, too many parents now don't do anything. You can't just leave the kid unpunished and hope that the parent will step up.

Geoffrey Stone

1. There is a vast difference between an open-handed *spanking* and bashing someone, even on the rump, with a hardwood paddle at full force.

2. Teaching a child discipline, and the methods to be used, is the responsibility of the parent, not the school. Parents dump too many of their responsibilities on schools already.

3. Hitting a child with anything hard enough to produce a bruise or internal injury is felony child abuse, regardless of who does it, and it is impossible to imagine how a paddle could be used without producing one of those results.

4. Schools need to maintain discipline and order, and the legitimate means at their disposal are '7th hour" detentions and, failing those, suspension or expulsion. Schools have no need to go beyond those options to create a non-hostile learning environment for their compliant charges.

5. Studies show over and over again that the vast majority of violent people were themselves exposed to abusive levels of violence (closed-hand beatings, whippings, paddlings and worse) as children.

6. James Dobson may have a Ph.D. in psychology, but he does not publicly advise according to any recognized school of thought within the mental health professions. He is primarily a sociopolitical regressionist (read "Bushlike conservative") and religious fanatic who hides his private, hate-based agendas behind his academic degree.


Schools allowed paddling when I was in Grade School and most of the way through Middle School and I can tell you two things:

- It was -not- an effective deterrent.
- Crazy things and horrible things still happened in the world.

Put me in the "don't paddle my kids" category. If my kid misbehaves, put them in detention. Worst case scenario: Send them to me.

Ray Seay


I am also of two minds but some change in school behavior is needed. At least in school it is controlled and limited.


I'm of two minds about this, and most of the time people don't want my opinion since I don't have any children myself.

As a child who was spanked -- sometimes with a belt on a bare backside -- I didn't have any particular problem seeing my parents as authority figures. I certainly didn't resent them later on for spanking me; their disciplinary methods were no different from those of my friends' parents in the 60s and 70s when I grew up.

However, I've also worked for a juvenile court system, and while I had no direct contact with children, I was privy to information about cases involving parents who escalated beyond spanking into outright beating, sometimes with extension cords, and who shook babies into brain damage or worse.

I think some parents don't know when to stop. And since there's no way to prevent people from having children, I'm not ready to defend spanking as a one-size-fits-all method of discipline. It's frustrating, because when I see some of the brats that are running around today, I want to spank them myself. LOL But I still have those reservations.

Ray Seay

Schools need more discipline of some type and more teaching on proper social behavior.

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