Three schools in Texas are reintroducing corporate punishment for bad behaviour, The Independent reports.
Staff will be able to use a wooden paddle to beat disobedient students in Three Rivers Schools District, which educates children from four to 18 at its elementary, junior and senior high schools.
The child will receive one paddling for each misdemeanour, such as not following rules in the classroom or not obeying teachers. When parents enrol their children, they will be asked whether they consent to the use of corporal punishment. Only children whose parents agree will receive it.
“If the parent is not comfortable with it, that’s the end of the discussion”, Three Rivers Independent Schools District Superintendent Mary Springs told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
The policy was pitched to the board by the elementary school’s campus behaviour co-ordinator, Andrew Amaro. He hopes it will be a more effective deterrent for the four to 12-year-olds in his care than simply a detention.
Mr Amaro was paddled as a schoolboy and says it worked on him, he said.
“It was an immediate response for me. I knew that if I got in trouble with a teacher and I was disrespectful, whatever the infraction was, I knew I was going to get a swat by the principal.”
Only certain members of staff – behaviour co-ordinators and the principal – will be permitted to use the paddle. Three Rivers’ six-strong board of trustees approved the policy unanimously.
The school will track the number of paddlings doled out, in order to evaluate the policy. “We will look at how many discipline referrals were made compared to last year and how many times [corporal punishment] was administered,” said Ms Springs.
“If it reduces the number of discipline referrals, then that is a good thing.”
The National Association of School Psychologists defines corporal punishment as “the intentional infliction of pain or discomfort and/or the use of physical force upon a student with the intention of causing the student to experience bodily pain so as to correct or punish the student’s behaviour”.
In 2016, the then-US Secretary of Education John B King Jr. wrote to state leaders asking them to ban corporal punishment in schools, after an investigation found that 110,000 American schoolchildren receive it every year.
In the short term, being physically punished makes students more aggressive and defiant, defeating the policy’s aim, King wrote. Moreover in the long term, such students are more likely to suffer mental health issues and substance abuse.
“This practice has no place in the public schools of a modern nation that plays such an essential role in the advancement and protection of civil and human rights.” Current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has not revealed her stance.
Fifteen US states, predominantly the southern ones, permit corporal punishment, according to NPR. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia prohibit it, while seven neither permit or prohibit it.