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Parents should handle the paddle, not teachers

Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012

Updated: Sunday, September 23, 2012 23:09

Though paddling and corporal punishment in schools seems to be unheard of today, it is still legal in 19 states — including Florida. After Taylor Santos, a high school student near Fort Worth, Texas, was paddled this week as punishment for letting a student copy her work, the question of corporal punishment in schools is again brought to light.


Paddling and other forms of corporal punishment take discipline that belongs in the hands of parents and gives it to teachers and administrators. This form of punishment, when done, is usually done without parental consent and is no way for discipline to be handled.


Since a ruling in 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed corporal punishment in schools legal and gave power over the matter to local governments. Many state and local governments have banned the practice, yet according to ABC News, more than 200,000 students received the punishment last year.


In Texas, the latest case is under scrutiny because a male vice principal administered the punishment to a female student.


The student chose it over suspension, which would have required her to miss school and could negatively affect her grades and school performance.


But the underlying issue is not who punishes within the school, but in what setting the punishment should take place.


The responsibility of teachers should be to teach — not discipline — children. Effective teaching can only be done in an encouraging environment, where children should be able to seek refuge and not fear the one teaching them. The teaching role should be one of nurturing knowledge, not harsh discipline.


In cases of student misbehavior, corporal punishment goes too far. There are more effective forms of punishment for students, and it is not a teacher’s place to scold or strike a child.


Parent phone calls often resolve discipline problems, as students know they will go home to face lessons from parents. In other cases, such as with student-athletes, options such as informing a coach can result in the same obedience in a child.


Teachers are already overburdened with increasing testing standards and expectations of annual yearly progress. When their job and a child’s education is at risk, they shouldn’t have to bear the extra weight of how to discipline a child.


While parents don’t want teachers beating their children, teachers similarly don’t want those students acting up in class. The long-lasting social problem of corporal punishment in schools can be solved with a simple promise of quid pro quo. Teachers should be able to teach students, so long as parents handle the discipline at home.

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