Against The Grain

Spanking, or rather paddling, in schools recently made headlines when a Florida student was paddled by a principal and it was caught by an outside party to the incident. As a child of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, I’m not at all unfamiliar with this concept although I’ve never experienced it myself.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

When I went to Google to search paddling in schools I found the article Ouch!! 20 states that still paddle pupils – CBS News which listed out 20 states that still use the practice and how many students they paddled. Not surprising to me, there was a strong concentration of southern states that still use this form of discipline. It’s clearly a legal thing that is cleared with the parents in many cases via “permission slip” for lack of a better term.

It’s not as big of an issue as one might think compared to the outrage people were feeling. The top state only paddled around 7% of the students in their entire state. Google says there are 491,962 students in Mississippi, the top paddling state, and 38,131 were paddled.

I grew up in a time where “fear” kept me out of trouble most times. It wasn’t that I was scared of anyone at school when I got in trouble, but the fear that I didn’t know what might happen kept me from ever trying to find out. Luckily there were only two incidents in my whole career that sent me to the principals office. One was a misunderstanding and one was a little rebellious moment I had during my first year of being in public school after being in “Public-Private Department of Defense” schools. DoD schools technically are public, but the percentage of pupils who are not attached to military personnel is so low it’s pretty private if you ask me.

I really truthfully had thought paddling had faded into history along with cleaning the blackboards and writing punishment lines due to bad behavior. After a little research it looks like it is alive and well in some school districts around the country. To each their own, but we can’t be too shocked this is happening when the parents of these children and probably grandparents of these children went through the same punishments.

On the other end of the spectrum, Japanese students basically are the maintenance workers for their schools. They clean and sometimes cook their lunches and when things need moving or fixing I’ve seen videos where students are in charge. Taking ownership of their schools seems to make them more invested in their school that what I’ve seen in US schools. It’s not uncommon for US schools to have things broken or defaced with graffiti. The attitude here seems to be that someone else will pay to fix it or buy a new one so kids look at their schools and the materials inside them as disposable.

Going into a new school situation next year is going to be refreshing. Private schools have the reputation of being more invested in their schools and their students. They definitely are known for kicking kids out who don’t follow the program and after the recent public school experiences we’ve had I’ll be glad to be in a place where everyone is on the same page when it comes to creating a community where the kids can learn and grow together.







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