Thoughts on Corporal Punishment
Last summer, I thought corporal punishment was generally a bad idea. I really hadn’t ever seen it used, so my feelings towards corporal punishment were somewhat passive. I just didn’t think a child should be hit for any reason.
The first time I saw a student being paddled by the principal, I felt overwhelmed with shame and guilt, like I was the one being paddled. I couldn’t watch, I was so embarrassed for the student, a female who was only 3 years younger than me. The girl who was being paddled tried to grab the paddle away from my principal, shouting curse words at him. This only made my principal madder at her, and so he continued paddling her for longer than I think he had originally intended. I don’t even know why the principal started paddling her. When he left, the girl came to my class and was disruptive the entire period because she was so angry at the principal. It made my job that much more difficult.
Every time I sent a student to the office and the principal used corporal punishment, the student was back in my classroom two minutes later. Students didn’t cool off in the office, they came back furious with me for getting them paddled. No student ever acted better after returning from the office.
Let’s face it, corporal punishment is for the lazy. It’s quick, it’s easy, it doesn’t involve any extra paperwork and the parents don’t have to be contacted about the behavior. My administration didn’t want to put in the extra effort it took to set up in school suspension or detention, and they were only allowed to suspend a limited amount of students at a time. There were no guidelines my principal seemed to follow in using corporal punishment. I have no idea how he decided if a student got paddled and how many times a student was paddled for a certain offense. One day, a student in my third period class was paddled once for being tardy to my class, and then one of my students in seventh period was paddled once for skipping class three days in a row. This same principal preached to the teachers about being fair and consistent with all of the students.