While many Baby Boomers remember the fear of the cane or paddle if they misbehaved at school, corporal punishment is largely something that younger generations haven’t had to worry about. Some would argue it’s why children these days get away with so much bad behaviour.
Now, a local charter school in America has decided corporal punishment is the way to go and recently sent letters home to parents and guardians advising them it was bringing back the paddle. The Georgia School for Innovation and the Classics (GSIC) sent home a permission form asking parents to allow the school to use the paddle on their children.
According to HRDW news in Georgia, parents were given the option to give their consent, with more than 100 parents handing the forms back. Of those, a third gave the school permission to whack their children. The school’s superintendent Jody Boulineau explained that the school takes discipline “very seriously” and argued that in the decades when corporal punishment was the norm, schools didn’t have the problems they do today.
“It’s just one more tool that we have in our disciplinary toolbox that we can use,” he explained in an interview with the news station.
While the school does take its rules seriously, Boulineau said parents weren’t obliged to give consent to the extreme new rules. According to a permission form obtained by HRDW news, parents were informed that misbehaving children would be taken into an office where the door was closed. The student would then be told to place their hands on their knees or a piece of furniture, before they’re smacked on the bottom with the paddle.
Parents were also told that the child would be hit no more than three times and that the paddling would occur in the presence of an adult witness. Those who choose to opt out could instead choose for their child suspended for up to five days if they misbehaved.
Boulineau said the response from parents has been mixed and although controversial, doesn’t think it’s a tool the school will have to rely on often.
“Sometimes it’s just the threat of it being there becomes a deterrent in itself,” he explained.
While baffling to some, school corporal punishment is still legal in many parts of the United States. According to NBC, 19 states across America still allow corporal punishment in both public and private schools.
When it comes to corporal punishment in homes, it’s technically legal across all 50 states, but there are specific statutes for each state. Close to 185,000 students are physically disciplined in American schools each year.
The news comes after an online toolkit devised by Evidence for Learning found schools that impose more severe guidelines on their students often boast better exam results.
The tool kit didn’t refer to methods of punishment, but did link student behaviour to classroom discipline and academic results.
More than two decades have passed since corporal punishment including the cane, being forced to clap erasers or a hit across the hands with a ruler was banned from all public schools in Australia. These days, students are punished with detention, copying lines or suspension.