Spare the rod

February 12, 2013 

North Carolina, or most of it, anyway, has come a long way since the days the schoolhouse custom of punishing students with paddles was commonplace. One story in a small foothills community was that. in the 1920s, a teacher used to paddle all the boys in an elementary school class at the beginning of the day, on the theory that, “They’ll all get into mischief by day’s end anyway.”

Unfortunately, nine of 115 districts in the state still allow corporal punishment. But this form of discipline, even when administered with parental permission, comes with risks. Studies have shown that children who suffer spankings as a routine form of punishment wind up using that method on their own children. There are physical risks for children who are paddled, including potentially serious problems if a child has an undetected physical ailment. And spanking is a sign that a teacher has lost control and can’t run a class any other way. It’s not a good message for the children, and it doesn’t really help the teacher.

All in all, it’s just not worth it. Consider that if a child is hurt, a teacher and a school and a school system might well be open to legal action. And spanking, frankly, should remain something that parents decide to do or not to do. Teachers, surely most of them, likely don’t really want this responsibility. Let’s relieve them, and principals, of it.

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