Paddling Investigation; Pros And Cons Of Pops
By Donna McCollum KTRE.com(KTRE-TV), May 19, 2004

Groveton Police Chief Robert Meager is investigating the second complaint this year of injury to a child involving the Groveton Independent School District. Meager said the complaint was filed by Child Protective Services.

Meager can't provide any more details until after his investigation. However, the chief has completed his probe of a 10-year-old who was paddled by a Groveton coach. The case will be sent to the Trinity County District Attorney's office.

According to the child's mother, Lynn Causby, the punishment caused her son bleeding and bruises that didn't go away for weeks. Causby removed her child from the school and has filed civil and criminal complaints.

Reaction

That story first reported last month generated reaction about corporal punishment in schools. Anti-paddling organizations from Ohio, California, and Texas responded. We also heard from those of you who said, 'A swat didn't hurt you so it won't hurt your child."

Paddling - The Pros and Cons

Often, the mere presence of Assistant High School Principal David Russell encourages good behavior at Central Heights Schools. Yet every student knows a trip to his end office could result with a paddling or pops.

"The first thing I ask them is if they have anything in their back pockets?", is what Russell says right before a paddling.

And, sometimes, just knowing about the paddle works. "There are some students who just the threat of knowing corporal punishment is there, that's enough to make them toe the line," said Russell.

It's not required by the state, but Central Heights sends a consent form home asking parents' permission to use corporal punishment.

The issue always leads to debate at the Matheny household. "There's definitely a place for it. A lot of times the only discipline children get sometimes are at school," said Kevin Matheny. His wife, Donna Matheny, thinks differently. "I just don't want it so easily administered that it's not abusive, but overdone."

No difference according to the Founder and President of People Opposed to Paddling Students Jimmy Dunne. "Paddling we consider to be legalized child abuse," said Dunne.

For 23 years, the former math teacher has led a national crusade against paddling and spanking. He has a collection of photographs of children's bruised buttocks who were paddled. "You can see how these children are hurt. Sometimes, it's even an injury that lasts for many, many years," according to Dunne.

The Houston resident has told school boards to national talk show host Phil Donohue that laws have a double standard in reporting injuries of children. "If they (educators) saw a bruise like that come from home, they would have to report it to the authorities. When it comes from within the school, they're not likely to report it because it's their own people doing this," explained Dunne.

Dunne contends paddling teaches kids to hit during conflicts, promotes anger, and leads to expensive lawsuits. All reasons why more school districts are putting the paddle away.

"It's been abolished now in 28 states. It should be abolished in Texas. We have a lot of it going on in East Texas where[as] it's been abolished in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin."

Those districts now resort to other forms of effective punishment that even Principal Russell may use before picking up his paddle. "Corporal punishment is not the only form of discipline that can correct things," said Russell.

So if other discipline measures work, why paddle at all? Russell says when asked that question he answers, "First of all, in Texas, it's legal."

But only in schools. Striking another person is not allowed in prisons, in the military, or in mental hospitals. Even so, some educators strongly believe a paddling is due payment for a child whose unruliness denies others an education.

In Texas, close to 74,000 students in public schools were hit for punishment during the 1999-2000 school year, according to the U.S. of Education, Office of Civil Rights.

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