KTHV reported recently about another incident of school paddling gone awry. Most of them are virtually ignored by the state's child welfare organizations, law enforcement agencies and the news media.
Myth, folklore and superstition aside, the corporal punishment of children is clearly unsafe. Despite four decades of research by educators, psychologists and social scientists, no one can cite any study that supports the opinion that hitting a child is more effective than the positive alternatives.
Never shown to result in any measurable long term benefit, it is merely an expression of anger and rejection. It is retaliation desguised as retribution and punishment, the latter of which, by the way, is the least effective of all behavior modifiers.
Paddling posts society's value of children for them all to see. It is our comment on the legitimacy of brute force as a means of control; a lesson in bullying. But it does not teach discipline.
Teachers in thousands of schools around our country and in most of the Western, industrialized world educate their pupils without hurting them or humiliating them. Paddling appeals to educators who are violent, incompetent, and often emotionally disturbed.
I hope that the judge presiding over gym teacher Terry Russell's hearing on Monday will have the moral courage to say that there is no tolerance for adults hitting our children at school. It is not okay for spouses to beat each other, for inmates of prisons to be beaten, for soldiers or sailors to be beaten, or for residents in nursing homes to be abused. Children deserve protection, too.
Randy Cox, LCSW
P. O. Box 17733
Little Rock, AR 72222
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