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Texas Town Brings Back the Paddle

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Ronda Kaysen: Leave it to Texas to bring back the paddle.

texas paddle

A central Texas school district unanimously voted last May to let teachers paddle misbehaving students. Parents and teachers alike hail the new policy as a total success, saying that behavioral problems have plummeted ever since kids started realizing that they might get walloped for acting up.

Temple, Texas, is a rail town of 60,000, and the new policy -- which applies to all 14 schools in town -- is well-liked by residents who say kids behave better when they have the fear of a spanking to keep them in line.

"There are times when maybe a good crack might not be a bad idea," Temple resident Robert Pippin told The Washington Post.

While many states have banned corporal punishment over the years, Texas never got around to it. Of the 225,000 children who received corporal punishment in 2006, 25 percent hailed from the Lone Star state.

In the months since the school instituted the policy, only one student has been paddled -- at the request of his parents. Parents and school officials say that the problems in Temple -- talking in class, showing up late and throwing spitballs -- are typical, and paddling is just the way to solve them.

"Back [in the day], you wouldn't throw spitballs, because you were afraid of the consequences," Darr Kuykendall, a plumbing-supply worker, said about the good old days when corporal punishment was the norm.

I find it deeply disturbing that, in a country where corporal punishment is banned in prisons, it's still being used against kids who talk in class. Children act out, and they need to be disciplined. But beating them only teaches them that violence is the way to keep people in line. Study after study shows that kids who get spanked are more aggressive.

Hitting kids -- especially for minor infractions like being late to class -- seems totally backwards and outdated. There are many effective ways to teach children consequences -- none of which involve violence.

next: Runaway Mom Left Husband and Toddler to Start a New Life
15 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jenn D April 22, 2010, 11:52 AM

Yeah, I’m a ridiculously aggressive person. Seriously, *so* aggressive. It’s amazing I get through day to day life. My husband? He’s horrible aggressive too. It’s crazy that people who grew up in our generation are able to function, what with all their aggressive tendencies - you know, like understanding consequences for bad behaviour, respecting people….heaven forbid we raise another generation like ours….

Anonymous April 22, 2010, 12:18 PM

I think this is great. I don’t have an issue with it at all. It’s about time that consequences are set for actions. I look at kids today, I never would hve been allowed to act as these kids do. My mom was a teacher in the school i went to and while i got away with a lot, when I caught, punishment was dolled out. Looking back, it was justifyed and fair.

muddin mom of 2 April 22, 2010, 12:59 PM

My childrens school brought this back a few years ago, and I honestly don’t think its a bad thing at all!!
I remember the days of NOT wantin to get “swats”…so of course, to NOT get swats, I HAD to behave….
And now, I am a mother that VERY SELDOM spanks her kids…maybe 1-2 times in their LIVES have they been spanked…(they are ages 13 & 7)
but you can bet, if my kids do something that the principal thinks warrants a use of his paddle…I will tell him to go for it!

Beth April 22, 2010, 1:47 PM

While I am not against the occasional spanking as a form punishment in my own home. If the behavior warrants, then so be it. However, I am far from comfortable allowing someone else raise a hand or a paddle to my child - for any reason.

Christina April 22, 2010, 1:56 PM

I do not trust any school to adequately or accurately investigate any issue that would on its face call for corporal punishment. I went to school in Texas back in the day and I got paddled twice at school - each time for something I didn’t do. You know what I learned? That my teachers and principal sucked and that you couldn’t trust them. Before the paddlings, I was a pretty good kid. After those two events (in the same school year), you could have beaten me black and blue and I would not listen to nor do a thing you told me (trust me, my parents tried). It wasn’t until my parents started looking into the reasons for my behavior and actually started addressing them that my attitude and general demeanor began to improve. Fear only works up to a point, and it really only generates anger and resentment. For the record, I transferred into a college preparatory in my sophomore year and ended up graduating near the top of my class.

Jemima April 22, 2010, 2:08 PM

Most people don’t trust government run departments to even do an adequate job, why on earth would they believe that they should be in charge of physically hurting their children?

Bishop April 22, 2010, 2:20 PM

I live in this town. We have had a Kindergarten student in an alternative school (for good reason) We have students walking out of class. We have students cussing out teachers. There is not a respect for authority. These kids are out of control. Of course the students that do this have the parents that won’t allow them to get paddled, they are also the ones that blame the school for their “baby” getting in trouble.

Tom Johnson April 22, 2010, 3:44 PM

1. School paddling violates Title IX insofar as boys and girls are impacted differently, given that unlike boys, girls who have entered puberty would have to reveal intimate personal information in order to avoid the chance of this punishment being unfairly compounded by menstrual discomfort, or a risk factor where there is the possibility of pregnancy.

2. The general immunity to litigation—f not also criminal prosecution—which some state laws and the courts have given teachers and principals when it comes to paddling effectively and unconstitutionally denies students and parents the remedies that were essential to the Supreme Court’s decision in 1977 upholding school corporal punishment.

3. The balance of available redress in the case of an injurious or otherwise unjust paddling is further weakened by the modern day prospect of unwanted, widespread prurient attention to victims via corporal punishment-themed adult websites, which may inhibit parents from seeking redress for their unjustly paddled child for fear of the publicity such complaints could generate. (See related: The Dunn, North Carolina Paddling Incident)

4. The legitimacy of male principals spanking female students is at odds with prevailing sexual harassment codes, which bar male employers from spanking female employees (including minors).

5. The spanking paddle itself was originally invented not for use on schoolchildren but rather as a tool for beating slaves. The idea was to have something that would inflict terrible pain without causing the kind of permanent tissue damage that could lower a slave’s market value. While the corporal punishment of slaves has most often been portrayed as using a whip, it was also fairly common practice by the mid 1800’s, at least in certain states, to use a paddle instead. (This will not be news to anyone who has studied American slavery in depth or seen the 1975 movie “Mandingo.”) Although nobody would suggest that students today are paddled with the same degree of severity that slaves were, it is important to recognize that extreme severity is what this instrument was designed for. It is virtually unheard of, moreover, for school personnel to receive any professional training in how to paddle students, to be required beforehand to demonstrate competence at doing it safely and judiciously, to have their paddles inspected and held to any standards of size, weight, composition, or craftsmanship, and least of all to have the velocity of their swing measured. Thus, we can reasonably expect that paddlers will often times hit harder than they intend to, or in some cases, hit parts of the body they don’t intend to.

6. The spanking of kids at school could be videotaped without anyone’s knowledge, which is a lot easier with the tiny cameras they make nowadays. If someone were to circulate that video on the Internet, it could be really humiliating for the student. Not to mention that there’s a black market for images of children being spanked. The FBI broke up a nationwide child-spanking pornography ring in 2002, incredible as that may sound, and at least two of its members worked in public schools (ref:

7. Despite dire warnings that school discipline would deteriorate if paddling went away, Memphis has since enacting its ban seen a reduction of discipline problems. At the national level, one finds that dropout rates, violent crime, and other social problems are most concentrated among states and localities where paddling is still allowed. School shootings have occurred most often in states that allow paddling (and paddling may have even been a catalyst for the one in Jonesboro, Arkansas). It is worth noting, moreover, that among the top 100 U.S. schools ranked by Newsweek in 2003, not a single one is a paddling school.

8. The many groups supporting a ban on corporal punishment include The National Association of School Boards, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and The National Association of School Nurses.

PDeverit April 22, 2010, 9:40 PM

People used to think it was necessary to “spank” adult members of the community, military trainees, and prisoners. In some countries they still do. In our country, it is considered sexual battery if a person over the age of 18 is “spanked”, but only if over the age of 18.

For one thing, because the buttocks are so close to the sex organs, and so multiply linked to sexual nerve centers, striking them can trigger powerful and involuntary sexual stimulus in some people. There are numerous physiological ways in which it can be intentionally or unintentionally sexually abusive, but I won’t list them all here. One can read the testimony, documentation, and educational resources available from the website of Parents and Teachers Against Violence In Education at

Hitting/child buttock-battering vs. DISCIPLINE:

Child buttock-battering (euphemistically labeled “spanking”,”swatting”,”switching”,”smacking”, “paddling”,or other cute-sounding names) for the purpose of gaining compliance is nothing more than an inherited bad habit.

Its a good idea for people to take a look at what they are doing, and learn how to DISCIPLINE instead of hit.

I think the reason why television shows like “Supernanny” and “Dr. Phil” are so popular is because that is precisely what many (not all) people are trying to do.

There are several reasons why child bottom-slapping isn’t a good idea. Here are some good, quick reads recommended by professionals:

Plain Talk About Spanking
by Jordan Riak,

The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
by Tom Johnson,

by Lesli Taylor M.D. and Adah Maurer Ph.D.

Just a handful of those helping to raise awareness of why child bottom-slapping isn’t a good idea:

American Academy of Pediatrics,
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
American Psychological Association,
Center For Effective Discipline,
Churches’ Network For Non-Violence,
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
Parenting In Jesus’ Footsteps,
Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children,
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In 26 countries, child corporal punishment is prohibited by law (with more in process). In fact, the US was the only UN member that did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Taylor April 23, 2010, 7:26 AM

It’s really not a bad idea. Previous generations experienced this type of punishment while growing up and they seemed to not act up near as much as the younger generation. Seriously, if you step foot in a school you will see that most students have little respect for anyone: teachers or peers.

Julie Worley April 25, 2010, 11:23 AM

Current News Headlines “Girls Spanked, Suspended for Skimpy Prom Dresses” at Oxford High School, Alabama and “Stopping bullying before it starts” related that elementary school children in Kennett, MO are punished for bullying by being hit with wooden paddles to deliberately inflict physical pain and suffering as Punishment known as Corporal Punishment or Paddling or by being suspended. Hitting children in schools to Punish them is NOT the answer!

U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) plans to introduce legislation in U.S. Congress to ban the use of physical discipline in public schools. At a recent hearing by the Healthy Families and Communities Subcommittee, McCarthy said:
The federal government has outlawed physical punishment in prisons, jails and medical facilities. Yet our children sitting in a classroom are targets for hitting. We know safe, effective, evidence-based strategies are available to support children who display challenging behaviors in school settings.
Hitting children in school does not help them achieve academic success. Hitting children in school is not an effective discipline tactic. Hitting children in school does not make them feel safe in school. Instead, they feel humiliated, helpless, depressed, and angry. Hitting children teaches them that it is a legitimate way to handle conflict.
We are adults. We shouldn’t be hitting kids in schools. Instead, we, as a nation, should move toward these positive strategies when it comes to our school children. It has been a 150 years since the first state banned this practice in schools. Since then, 29 states have done the same. But it is still occurring every day in our nation and we still have hundreds of thousands of students being hit in our schools.

Alphamale  May 10, 2010, 2:29 PM

Girls need paddled more then boys to keep them on the right path. Girls tend to need a firm hand. At all ages.

Frankie October 6, 2010, 12:21 PM

I have 3 girls 6, 8, 10 and are generally great kids who obey us and cause no serious problems. What irks me the most is when they run through parking lots with no regard for oncming cars. In other words I only spank if there is a chance they might seriously injure themselves after being given specific instructions to not run. I do it right away by going back to our van and swat bare butt with my hand util they beg for n me to stop. Then I stop and say if you do that again I will do it in the store in therecord, cd section where all your friends congregate. Never happened to that extent because they know I’m not faking.Never fake it because it gives them power overb you.

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 8:11 AM

Good info! Good to read. I just have a single observation to submit about tee shirts.

Linda Brww March 10, 2011, 12:45 PM

The second factor dissuading me from an iPad is its pixel density, something that’s usually not a deciding factor when I purchase a device. What makes the iPad different is that its marketed as a product for reading.

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