Ready to Grow?

Is Spanking in Schools a Viable Discipline Option?

Posted by Scott Barron on Mar 4, 2014 2:13:34 PM
Scott Barron

Spanking is legal for school leaders in Kansas, and in most other states. Is spanking in schools a viable discipline option today?

To Paddle or Not to Paddle?

A Kansas state representative wants to give this discipline option more impact (Spanking Bill in Kansas Sparks Controversy). A bill has been introduced that would give school leaders greater authority to spank, "by allowing teachers and caregivers to spank children up to 10 times, possibly causing redness and bruising."

Not trying to be heavy-handed, Democratic state representative Gail Finney's legislation gives spankings some oomph:

"Up to ten forceful applications in succession of a bare, open-hand palm against the clothed buttocks of a child and any such reasonable physical force on the child as may be necessary to hold, restrain or control the child in the course of maintaining authority over the child, acknowledging that redness or bruising may occur on the tender skin of a child as a result."

As a young man with a large dose of ADHD, spankings were a frequent part of my early years. One incident remains forever lodged in my mind. On a warm afternoon in Kinston, NC, while I was in the 7th grade I made the unfortunate decision of utilizing one of my favorite wrestling moves on a classmate out on the playground. (Fortunately for me, recess was still a part of the middle school schedule--I needed this daily outlet for my excessive energy.) Upon detection by the teacher on-duty, we were promptly escorted to the principal's office.

Mr. Rice was a no-nonsense administrator with a harsh glare and tone. After collecting the required statements (which naturally conficted based on our own expert perspectives) from both of us as we looked at him with our dirty, sweaty brows, he rose to reach for a sawed-off boat oar that was mounted on the wall. This experienced tool of discipline was decorated with multi-colored ink from the signatures of many, many students who had felt its "instruction" on their backsides.

Next we were ordered to lean over the couch adjacent to the Principal's desk as Mr. Rice positioned himself with the re-purposed boat implement in-hand to deliver a new lesson with full range of motion. Whack. Whack! Whack!! Each blow felt harder than the one before. It seemed like he was going to knock me through the wall, but there was NO WAY I was going to cry in front of him or my fighting opponent.

In keeping with the proposed Kansas bill, our buttocks were clothed and there was ample redness and bruising, but the reasonableness of the physical force depends on which end of the oar you were. After regaining our composure and receiving a few other words of wisdom, we were sent back to class.

Was this the best way to handle this conflict? I don't think I got into another fight that year, and it certainly was etched into my long-term memory. The risks, however, for today's school administrators to spank outweighs the benefits in most situations. Even with the protections proposed in the Kansas legislation mentioned above, other options are available and used instead. Suspension or expulsion may seem like a better solution, but I would have rather been spanked and gotten it over with than have a lingering disciplinary process that involved the scrutiny of too many and inhibited my academic progress.

Topics: Administration, Current Events

Subscribe to Weekly Email Updates

Recent Posts