Corporal punishment-induced trauma

The cynical, systemic avoidance of responsibility with regard to the welfare of children in the United States is nowhere better illustrated than in the practice of corporal punishment in schools.
  • The U.S Department of Education says school corporal punishment is a matter for the states to decide.
  • In the states that permit corporal punishment, departments of education say it's a matter for local school districts to decide.
  • School districts where paddling is practiced say their policy reflects the will of the community expressed through their elected school boards.
  • When children are injured by violent punishments at school, there is no agency mandated to address problem. Each one defers to another, leaving schools essentially a law unto themselves and children unprotected.
For a rarely-seen view of what results from this state of affairs, please scroll down.

J. Riak

WARNING The images that follow are profoundly upsetting to some viewers.
Do not proceed if children are present.



IMAGE AT RIGHT: Paddle (21.5 inches long by 3.5 inches wide) used on Mississippi middle school children until November 2002. Notice the sponge rubber taped to the grip in order to protect the user's hand.

Getting it in Tennessee, June 2001

High school football players receive punishment from their coach: 5 blows to the buttocks with a wooden board for a failing grade, 3 for a D, and 3 for poor conduct

A VIEWER COMPLAINS: I can't make heads nor tails of this photo! Help?!

J. RIAK REPLIES: Agreed, it isn't the best. But it's one of a very few authentic candid photos of a paddling in progress in a public school. Dominating the central portion of the photo is the back of the paddler-- a very large man wearing a straw-colored print shirt, probably a former athlete. His head is tilted forward, like that of a golfer about to strike the ball. The paddle is the bright oblong object in the lower right of the photo. The student being punished is in total shadow at the left side of the photo. He is standing against the blackboard. His body is arched forward, apparently in reaction to just having been struck. The gold colored globe-shaped objects that can be seen between the paddler and the student are football helmets lined up along the wall. At least 15 students, all intently watching the event, are gathered around. Two appear to be laughing. One is blocking his ears. When the paddler became aware he had been photographed, he told the photographer to leave the room.

"...And if we do not take more care of the character of the teachers and instructors we choose, I blush to think how shamefully such contemptible fellows will misuse their rights...

Quintilian, circa 88 CE Read it in its entriety

"...Yet such is the temper and moral culture of teachers themselves that it is exceedingly unsafe to leave too wide a discretion in their hands. The nature even of instructors of youth is fallible, and there is a kind of intoxication in the exercise of unlimited power, though it be only over little boys and girls, that may wisely be checked and controlled."

From New York Times editorial, January 22, 1871. Read it in its entriety

"...First, we must do everything in our power to ensure the safety of our children. When children and teenagers go to school afraid of being bullied, or beaten, or worse, it is the ultimate betrayal of adult responsibility. It communicates the victory of moral chaos... No parent in America -- no matter their income -- should be forced to send their child to a school where violence reigns..."

President George W. Bush, from "Education Policy," Part III: The True Goal of Education, Page 3

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