Georgia school wants permission to paddle kids. Adults who consent to this should be ashamed.

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Or, as the great Paul Holinger puts it, “Where do folks think violence comes from?”

Holinger is a Chicago-based psychiatrist and founder of Chicago’s Center for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, whose work I admire tremendously. I called him Thursday to get his thoughts on the Georgia school note.

“We’re so focused on behavior instead of motive in this country,” Holinger said. “How about getting the kid and the parents thinking and talking about why the kid is behaving this way?”

Particularly in school. Maybe the material is over her head. Maybe he’s utterly lost. Maybe he mastered the material months ago and is bored out of his skull. Maybe she’s being bullied and can’t concentrate. Maybe something traumatic is happening at home.

Maybe, in other words, something is getting in the way of her learning and growing and thriving, and instead of beating her with a paddle, her teachers and parents should find out what that thing is.

Maybe, in other words, this is a formative and incredibly critical time of his life and his teachers and parents can help him understand himself and the world or, alternatively, inflict upon him fear and loathing and physical pain.

“Hitting a child ruptures relationships,” Holinger said. “It decreases a child’s ability to weigh pros and cons. It tells a child that violence is the answer to solving problems.”

What a truly terrible message for a child to receive in any setting. Especially school.

Those so-called adults should be ashamed.

hstevens@chicagotribune.com

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