YOUR VIEWS: End to school paddling long overdue
Letters to the Birmingham Post By Glenn Davis, Nadine Block and Dr. Robert E. Fathman
August 24, 2005

End to school paddling long overdue

I find Mortimer Jordan Principal Byron Campbell's claim that he prefers not to paddle children difficult to believe when he is willing to allow paddlings en masse for something as trivial as the wrong hair-style. Was this an example of the "last resort" remedy we so often hear about from paddling advocates to justify its continued use? Hardly.

If the school administrators can't think of a better way to handle a situation like this, they need to find new jobs. And quite frankly, if crummy hairstyles is the best thing these principals can come up with to get into a "disciplinary mood," I'd say they've got pretty good kids to work with.

I also noticed the article mentioned that the school uses a Plexiglas paddle to "spank" the kids with an item you can buy at an "S&M" specialty store. Is that where they got it? I think parents have a right to know where this thing came from, and what kind of damage it could do.

Whatever the case may be, it's time parents wake up to the fact that certain persons enjoy this type of activity, and that it may have unwanted side effects. If that sounds ludicrous to you, then google "school spanking" and have a look at the results.

If the vast majority of the civilized world can do without school beatings, there's no reason Alabama can't do it. The time to put paddling to an end is long overdue.

Glenn Davis
Arlington, Texas 76001

Doesn't change

Most of the time when administrators use corporal punishment, they claim it is a "last resort." They've tried everything else. In the story of the Mortimer Junior High paddlings of 28 students for haircut violations, the principal does not even make a claim for that.

In fact, students weren't even told they would be paddled if they didn't get haircuts. It was be suspended or take a paddling! So much for the "last resort." Twenty-eight states have banned school corporal punishment because it doesn't change behavior in the long term, it is used disproportionately on boys, minorities and children with disabilities, and it can easily lead to injuries of students and lawsuits against school districts.

If a father told his son to bend over and grab his ankles and hit him with a board in front of Wal-Mart for not getting a haircut, what do you think would happen?

Nadine Block, executive director
Center for Effective Discipline
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Not doing homework

So the principal at Mortimer Jordan High School hit nearly 10 percent of the boys in the school on the second day of classes to teach them not to have hair over their eyebrows? Others were sent home for the same "offense?" I wonder if he is so proud of this brutality, so righteous about what he is doing, that he would allow the news media to videotape and photograph these beatings? Parental consent for the photos could be obtained.

Not likely. It would make world news, and Principal Byron Campbell, and the baseball coach who actually does the hitting would come across as barbarians.

The coach, the principal and the Jefferson County Board of Education obviously have not been doing their homework. A little bit of research would have revealed that educators in 28 states and in every other developed country in the world successfully educate children without hitting them or even threatening to do so.

Schools that discipline in more humane ways have less vandalism, higher scores on national achievement tests and lower dropout rates. Hitting instills anger and sends the wrong message.

Sure, we can get compliance, out of fear. But we fail to get internalization of values, and we cause more societal problems. Kids raised with corporal punishment are more likely to get into trouble with the law than are those brought up without hitting. Principals and baseball coaches in Mobile, Birmingham, Atlanta, Memphis and thousands of other communities of lesser size effectively manage student behavior without hitting.

Think about it: 28 boys hit the second day of class, with no prior clarity that their hair violated his subjective opinion on what was allowable. What a terrible way to start the school year. Good school discipline is instilled in the mind, not the behind. The voters need to take the school board to the woodshed in the next elections for allowing this ignorant, backward approach to children.

Robert E. Fathman, Ph.D., president
National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools
Dublin, Ohio 43017

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