24 inches in length, 3 inches wide, and ½ of an inch thick.
These are the measurements of the wooden paddle that the Pickens County Board of Education recommended in 2015 to beat children who misbehaved in school. Historically corporal punishment was used to keep prisoners and slaves in line. Nowadays, it is used to keep our children from misbehaving in schools. A professor of law at Michigan State University, Susan Helen Bitensky, stated in her book, Corporal Punishment of Children: A Human Rights Violation, “A 2-ft-long paddle can be half as tall as the children being paddled. In any other context, the act of an adult hitting another person with a board of this size (or really, of any size) would be considered assault with a weapon and would be punishable under criminal law” (Bitensky). So, why is abusing students excusable in the name of “discipline”?
Not only is corporal punishment unjust it is also ineffective. Those who support corporal punishment in schools often argue that the results are too good to give up. While at first glance, this may be true, in the long term it is quite the opposite. Sandra Graham-Bermann, PhD, a psychology professor and principal investigator for the Child Violence and Trauma Laboratory at the University of Michigan, speaks out about corporal punishment of children in an article published by the American Psychological Association, “It’s a very controversial area even though the research is extremely telling and very clear and consistent about the negative effects on children”(Graham-Berman). She then goes on to say, “Physical punishment can work momentarily to stop problematic behavior because children are afraid of being hit, but it doesn’t work in the long term and can make children more aggressive” (Graham-Bermann). Even if physically abusing school children corrects minor misbehaviors, we should not be willing to turn our children into more aggressive people.
We need to stop abusing students and instead find a less violent way of disciplining them. After all, shouldn’t our student’s physical and mental well being be the number one priority?