“In this school, we take discipline very seriously,” superintendent Jody Boulineau told an Augusta, Ga., news station.
I’d say that’s about all they take seriously if they’re itching to beat children with wooden boards.
Not learning. Not social-emotional growth. Not fostering creative problem-solving or teamwork or trust or empathy or leadership or any of the other skills that children need to thrive in life and school and work and human-to-human interaction.
If parents grant permission, the school note says, misbehaving students will be taken into an office behind closed doors. They will place their hands on their knees or a piece of furniture and be struck on the buttocks with a paddle up to three times.
If parents deny the school permission to paddle, the school can suspend their children for up to five days when discipline is necessary.
This is barbaric. It was barbaric when it was a routine form of discipline in more homes and schools. It’s grown even more barbaric as we gain a greater understanding of early childhood, brain development and children’s neurobiologically toxic reactions to being hit by grown-ups they love and trust.
Study after study proves hitting kids doesn’t improve their behavior. The most complete analysis to date on the topic found that hitting kids makes them more likely to defy their parents, more likely to exhibit anti-social behaviors and more likely to experience mental health and cognitive problems.
Nonetheless: Nineteen states permit physical punishment in schools, according to a 2017 American Psychoanalytic Association position paper on physical punishment. That’s in contrast, the APA points out, to the 49 countries that have banned physical punishment altogether, in all settings, and the more than 100 countries that have banned it in schools.
“One is not permitted to hit one’s spouse or a stranger; such actions are defined as the crime of assault,” the paper states. “Nor should one be permitted to hit a small and more vulnerable child. Hitting a child elicits precisely the feelings one does not want to generate in a child: distress, anger, fear, shame, and disgust. Studies show that children who are hit identify with the aggressor and are more likely to become hitters themselves, that is, bullies and future abusers of their own children and partners.”