Some Schools Still Don't Spare The Rod

Thought "paddling" was a thing of the past? Think again: in 20 states, corporeal punishment is still legal, and some schools take full advantage.

The breakdown, as one might expect, is largely regional. Says the New York Times,

While the image of the high school principal patrolling the halls with paddle in hand is largely of the past, corporal punishment is still alive in 20 states, according to the Center for Effective Discipline, a group that tracks its use in schools around the country and advocates for its end. Most of those states are in the South, where paddling remains engrained in the social and family fabric of some communities.

And while one might expect only oldsters to hold out against research against paddling's efficacy — and arguments that it's flat-out inhumane — the Times produces one startling anecdote.

In Louisiana, where corporal punishment is also legal, controversy erupted this year after the board of trustees for St. Augustine High School, the lone Catholic school in New Orleans and perhaps the country that still paddled its students, decided to ban the practice. St. Augustine was under pressure from Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, who has said that paddling promotes violence. But the predominantly African-American school's administration and alumni want the practice reinstated. They argue that paddling for minor offenses has been instrumental in helping St. Augustine build character and achieve high graduation rates. The school's students have also voiced their support, holding a march in New Orleans to demand that the archbishop reverse his position. Jacob Washington, a senior and the student body president, helped organize the march. "This is a tradition for the school," he said on the eve of the rally. "It's how the school has been run for 60 years. Just the seniors alone - we can tell the difference between our class and some of the newer students who didn't receive the same discipline."

Because something has been going on for a long time doesn't make it right. "Tradition," in the wrong context, can be a dangerous rationale.

Schools Under Pressure To Spare The Rod Forever
[NY Times]