Paddling Should Not Be Allowed In Hamilton County Schools - And Response

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

I am relatively new resident to Hamilton County. To my dismay, I have just been advised that corporal punishment is allowed in Hamilton County Schools. Apparently it was listed in tiny print on one of the various forms being pushed upon us at registration time.

I found out from my nine-year-old son, who advised that a classmate was recently paddled. I think that this is outrageous, and left over from the Dark Ages. I do not even use corporal punishment at home and I certainly do not approve of someone else using it on my children.

It is no wonder people think so little of the people from the South. Children aren't allowed to pray in school, but they are allowed to get beaten. There is a zero tolerance policy to violence, but yet you punish with violence. This is ridiculous.

Corporal punishment in schools is antiquated, ineffective and leaves children emotionally and physically abused.

Also, most people think this policy is only being used for younger children, but the facts are that it can be used on middle schoolers and even high schoolers. Can you imagine some teacher getting his or her kicks from paddling your fully developed child? Why abolish it? These are the facts.

Corporal punishment can and often does result in injuries to students. Bruises are common. Sometimes bones are broken.

Corporal punishment is often arbitrarily applied. It's disproportionately used on poor children, students with disabilities and boys. Blacks are hit at more than twice the rate of whites for similar offenses.

Corporal punishment is a punishment, not a solution. The same children are punished over and over. Schools using it often have poorer academic achievement, more truancy, more vandalism and higher drop-out rates.

Corporal punishment teaches students that violence is an acceptable response to conflict. It shows tacit consent for physical abuse of children.

If you agree and want to get rid of this policy, please contact the Hamilton County School Board and state legislators.

Stacy Slockbower

* * *

Your nine-year-old child informed you? Did you contact the school? Have you investigated this yourself? Do you actually know any facts about the situation?

Perhaps your child has "embellished" the story. I would think he/she has learned this from you - "No wonder people think so little of people in the South."

Your type of attitude is what every teacher in Hamilton County has to battle every day. You don't know the facts, but you take the word of a nine-year-old. Then, you belittle a group of people from a certain region of the country.

Perhaps you should look inward at what values you are teaching your child by your actions and words before you criticize people.

I hope everyone contacts the School Board and their Congressman and senators in order to stamp out ignorance - the type you are displaying.

Ron Walker
Husband of a teacher with 31 years experience in Hamilton County

* * *

Stacy Slockbower wrote that she was shocked as a new resident to find out that students can be hit with boards in local schools by teachers, from kindergarten girls through high school seniors. She is right, and I hope readers heed her request that they write or call school board members and state legislators and demand change. Children can be hit for turning in homework late, talking in class, and even, think about this now, for hitting.

Let's drop the sterile euphemism, "paddling." That is what we do in canoes. If teachers are going to hit children with boards we should call it just that, hitting kids with a board. If a husband struck his wife with a board, courts would not excuse him saying "he just paddled her to correct her behavior." It would instead be labeled "assault." Beating school children should become illegal as well.

Teachers in 28 states, almost every other country in the world, and in Nashville, Franklin, Memphis and many other Tennessee cities successfully educate without hitting. It is time to ban paddling in all schools. Good school discipline is instilled in the mind, not the behind.

Robert E. Fathman, Ph.D., President
National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools
Dublin, OH

* * *

As soon as I read the opinion from Ms. Slockbower regarding her distaste for corporal punishment, I knew I was going to have to write. Contrary to her belief that it is "antiquated, ineffective and leaves children emotionally and physically abused," I am living proof that having my principal (witnessed by my teacher) paddle my behind for pushing down a boy on the concrete play yard who got a nice knot on his head, and then paddled once again when I got home for making my teacher and principal have to deal with my blatant disruption taught me an extremely important lesson. I knew my antics would not be tolerated at school or at home. It certainly made me think twice about my behavior in the future.

Years later in middle school when the times were changing and the only form of punishment doled out was "Internal Suspension" where you sat in a classroom all day and supposedly did work, but ended up having discussions with the instructor about his obvious male chauvinistic ways; it was a joke, not punishment. Had someone doled out a punishment that did not coddle, I might have gotten my act straight sooner. In fact, the worst punishment for me during middle school was a suggestion by the guidance counselor to make me wear a dress or skirt to school one day a week. Now, that was torture. Took me all of one report card to get that one straightened out.

I am sorry you don't feel corporal punishment necessary, and that it can scar children for life. I happen to believe that the pampered, no limits enforced, all are winners so many are feeding the kids nowadays is directly proportional to the numskulls out there testing every limit because they know the punishment never comes. Just as the driver arrested for DUI for the 15th time is let out once again to finally kill someone before being locked up, failing to enforce respect for rules, and fear of punishment instills a true lack of proper judgment.

You may not agree that it is the school's place to punish your child in that manner, and should readily have the ability to forbid it, however, I wholeheartedly give every principal my blessing to inflict corporal punishment upon my child if they ever cause enough disruption to warrant it, and I make sure they know up front this is an option if they choose behavior unbecoming of a student at school.

I hug, kiss, and snuggle them, and assure them they are loved no matter what they do, however, they also know that should they misbehave to the point of getting in trouble at school, they are going to get it from both directions with a united front. My teen put an end to quite a few disputes by telling the other person "Fighting you is not worth me getting in trouble here and at home." However, she also knows self-defense just in case attempts to logically deal with a situation fail.

Ms. Slockbower, I don't believe the same students are being paddled over and over, and if there are those exceptions to the rule, I would be willing to bet there are other factors involved than just an unruly child. I, for one, learned after only one time. It was much later on when I knew the "punishment" for behavior was less than a slap on the wrist that I began exploiting and testing the limits. Taking away the ability for schools to adequately deal with students truly ties their hands, and leaves them no workable options. It is not fair to the teachers, staff, administrators, or the majority of the students having to put up with the few bad apples.

Beth Draco

* * *

This sounds like a book report for Dr. Benjamin Spock's "How to Spare the Rod and Spoil a Child." No, that's another book. However, didn't Dr. Spock make statements prior to his death to the effect that his books had ruined at least two generations of children?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with corporal punishment in some instances. Should it be the method of first choice? Probably not. Can it become abusive? Certainly. However, there are some children that don't seem to be impressed with the fact that certain behaviors are not acceptable in any other manner. Sometimes there is no other means to teach a child that for every choice there is a consequence. Every parent, anyone who works with children for that matter, knows that each child is different. This writer has three children. The youngest was a quick study, she took good lessons from what happened to the older two. The oldest had his little fanny worn out exactly one time...when he was three years old and ran out in front of a car. The middle one, let me just state that she needed to occasionally be reminded that there are acceptable behaviors and unacceptable a variety of ways.

Should corporal punishment be the first choice? Absolutely not. Can it become abusive? Absolutely, but that's why there are rules and guidelines for its use.

Perhaps if Ms. Slockbower were to spend some time in the schools where she can see "children" threatening a teacher, the lack of discipline because there are no consequences for poor behavior, where teachers and administrators are effectively neutered by parents who attempt to cover up for their poor parenting by being overprotective of their little darlings, and good students who are held back in their studies because of others who disrupt the classroom. Perhaps Ms. Slockbower is only exposed to children who are well behaved. Such a sterile environment isn't the real world. If it was, why is there such a hoorah being raised over putting School Resource Officers back in our schools? There were never police officers stationed in any of the schools this writer ever attended, but that was also back in a day when teachers weren't afraid to whack a tushy when necessary.

By her own admission Ms. Slockbower is a new resident of the area. Perhaps she would do well to stand back and observe before expressing indignation at the way things are run, at what may or may not be allowed. Her complaints are reminiscent of those who would build a house next to a dairy farm, so they can be "out in the country," then proceed to complain about the smell of cow manure and attempt to force the farmer to stop working the land as his family may have done for several generations. If things were so great where she came from, why did she leave in the first place?

Royce E. Burrage, Jr.

* * *

I am a life long resident of the south and a 17-year resident of Hamilton County. In response to Stacy Slackbower, let me say that it also surprised me to find out that paddling is allowed in Hamilton County Schools. Why is it a surprise? Because it is rarely, if ever, used by our teachers, the same teachers whom we apparently trust to teach our kids, but not to discipline them as needed,

I would suggest to Ms. Slacklower that she visit some of our schools to see the behavior problems that our teachers have to deal with. In our overcrowded classrooms, imagine how disruptive one or two children can be when it is all one teacher can do to even attempt to maintain control over the classroom, much less try to teach while several children are doing all they can to keep the other children from learning.

The fact is that many children today have little or no respect for authority. It undermines teachers further when parents reinforce their children's behavior by making statements like, "Can you imagine some teacher getting his or her kicks from paddling your fully developed child?"

What often happens is you have an unholy terror of a child who is disruptive in school and refuses to behave coupled with a parent enabler who refuses to believe that their little "angel" could ever do anything wrong. That same parent refuses to properly supervise and raise their child and then expects the teacher to do the job for them, all the while ready and willing to criticize the teacher's every decision..

I am a firm believer in corporal punishment and to my dismay it is not employed as often as it should be. What about the child who is continually disruptive, shows no respect for authority and knows he/she can absolutely misbehave without fear of any meaningful punishment? What that child usually wants is to either be suspended from school or placed in "in school suspension."

Is that the solution we want?

I am the judge for the city of Red Bank. I also often sit in the General Sessions Court of Hamilton County. I firmly believe that if corporal punishment were employed more, the number of young people who appear in front of me would be far less. Children will get away with what adults let them get away with.

Antiquated? Hardly. I recall that "antiquated" punishment changing my attitude a time or two. I didn't cry about it, my parents didn't complain to the school board and nobody claimed that my teachers "got their kicks," by punishing me. The paddlings I received were deserved, and I do not consider myself emotionally "scarred" by them. As a matter of fact, I find that suggestion to be rather humorous.

Finally, I find it personally offensive for Ms. Slockbower to claim that "It is no wonder people think so little of the people from the south." If you think so little of us, I would encourage you to move back to the nirvana from whence you came. The fact of the matter is that if many parents did a better job raising their children, our teachers would not have to deal with and attempt to correct the poor behavior that some students exhibit.

Johnny Houston
Red Bank City Judge

* * *

Paddling is not a form of abuse. If more kids were paddled, whipped or had the belt taken to them, maybe there wouldn't be so much violence, robberies, drugs and rapes in the world today.

Parents are now forgetting that it's their responsibility to take care of their kids. They let society take them in and teach them wrong with gangs, fighting and stealing. They just let them do whatever and behave however they want. There is no reprimand for their actions from their parents.

I am proud to say that my parents whipped me when I was younger and I received paddlings in school. I believe that it has benefited me in the present. I can honestly say I have never used any type of illegal drug nor have I ever been arrested.

I have seen children who are not punished and some that were only punished by words. Did they continue to behave badly and do what they were "told" not to do? Yes, they did and I have even seen it get worse.

There is a difference in abuse and in whipping and I believe it is people like you who do not understand that difference.

Where did you get your statistics of this being "disproportionately" used on "poor children, students with disabilities, boys and blacks?" You failed to mention the children it helped.

Let me know in a few more years if your child(ren) is in juvenile or jail because you "think that this is outrageous, and left over from the dark ages".

Amy Hawkins
Soddy Daisy

* * *

To the lady who wrote to say that paddling in schools shouldn't be allowed, I am sure that there isn't a teacher who seeks out each morning a student or students that she plans on paddling. That isn't what they do, they are there to teach, instruct values on the students.

However there are some students that won't respond any other way. I was paddled when I was in school and I didn't end up thinking I was abused. I did something wrong and I deserved the punishment and that was a paddling.

Detention doesn't seem to help, being suspended doesn't seem to help. Maybe a good paddling will make that child think the next time.

Children won't turn to a life of crime because they were paddled at school. Being paddled is not violence. There are a lot of times when I am out in public and here a parent threaten their child with a paddling after four or five times maybe more of the child misbehaving and then nothing happens. Time outs don't work for all children.

In the Bible it says "spare the rod spoil the child."

There are probably a lot of people who got spanked as a child and they turned out okay. That is part of the problem with children, they think that they can do whatever they want and there won't be any punishment.

Teachers have their hands full everyday. I want to send a praise out there to all teachers in both the public and private schools. So let's not take the one thing away from teachers that can help give them some control over their classroom and students. If you feel that paddling is too harsh for your child then maybe you should rethink your decision about the school that your child attends and maybe home school them. I don't know what the answer is for you but until children learn to take responsibility for their actions and stop putting the blame on someone else paddling should stay in schools.

A. M. Smith

* * *

Now, I want to be sure I understand what you're saying when you refer to the Dark Ages because that is where I came from, if indeed, corporal punishment is from the Dark Ages.

It seems to me that the Dark Ages produced some very fine disciplinarians among whom were Coaches Etter, Farmer, Seaton, Newton, and Hale along with Principal Hobart Millsaps and numerous other teachers of whom I had the fortune to be taught decisions I made had either rewards or consequences.

Central High School used corporal punishment and turned out many, many fine citizens who wound up as doctors, lawyers, legislators, engineers, contractors, bankers, judges and other professionals along with homemakers, entrepreneurs, business owners and managers and the like.

There weren't too many of those I call classmates who were not the object of corporal punishment at one time or another in their educational process at Central High School.

Not only were the people mentioned above very good teachers and administrators, but they also had a strong desire to see people succeed in life. Never once was a paddling administered to my little posterior that the coach or teacher failed to advise me that they hoped it was a deterrent to keep me from making the wrong decisions in the future.

I'm still not perfect but I can tell you from experience that I have never been diagnosed as having been emotionally or physically abused by their punishment. Nor did I suffer any broken bones and I challenge you to give me one example of any student in this part of the country who has suffered broken bones from a paddle properly applied.

As I mentioned, I speak from experience and what's more I couldn't care less what people in other parts of the country think about us Southerners. We have the finest people in the United States bar none.

Now, while I'm at it and since this is an opinion, I will say that I believe the problems in the schools began to erupt like a "risen" (that's southern for a festering boil on the skin) when the Northerners began to infiltrate the education system in the South with their child psychology (you probably don't want to know what that is) instead of staying the course with corporal punishment properly applied.

Of course, some will disagree with me that a paddling every now and then is good punishment in the proper circumstances. That's ok if they do as long as they do it from experience.

Terry Bridgman

* * *

This is just the strangest letter I have seen in a while.

I have no desire to comment on my opinion of corporal punishment, but I do wonder where such righteous indignation has come from and how on earth did the bit about "can you imagine some teacher getting his or her kicks from paddling your fully developed child?" find its way into the letter.

Laura Gilligan

* * *
In reply to the comments concerning paddling, I present a simple solution. Contact your child's teacher or teachers and let them know you would prefer that they not paddle your child. A polite little letter or note, that's all it takes.

My parents made sure my teachers knew either by way of note or personal meeting that they were not to paddle me. They made it clear that if I caused any kind of problem, they were to be called and they would handle it. I was informed of this arrangement as well and knew better than to make my teacher disturb my father at work. They never had to make that call.

While my parents were very firm believers in corporal punishment in some situations, they did not want others administering it to myself or my siblings.

Why wait, as some do, until an open house later in the year to meet your child's teacher? Teachers are with a child more waking hours in the day than their own parents generally. Doesn't it make sense to meet that individual?

Audra Roes

* * *

I have been teaching in Hamilton County for 18 years, and have yet to hear about a teacher or principal breaking bones, or getting their kicks from beating a student. In fact, it is school policy not to touch a student, let alone beat one.

It is sad that so many teachers are retiring early because of the escalating poor behavior of students and parents, and lack of meaningful consequences. Fortunately, there are students and parents that are wonderful; however, they are becoming extinct.

Frankly, I would like to thank Jesus that this woman did not move into my school zone.

Sandy Hale

* * *

The only part of your article I would agree with is I definitely would not want or allow anyone to paddle one of my children when I was raising them, including school officials.

I will admit I allowed this one time, to my son, and I have regretted it ever since. He is grown now, but the day that happened he was real quiet after that happened, and right then I promised him that no one would ever be allowed to do that again but his parents and I kept that promise.

Now I do believe in paddling, not beating. You mentioned that children are even not allowed to pray in school, which is true, but disgraceful to our country. Well, then you must believe in God since you brought this up. The Bible teaches us that fear is what makes a child do what you tell them to do. It also tells you that to spare the rod will spoil the child and that is as plain as you can get.

But that duty is not given unto some teacher that may or may not be a sex offender (we have had several cases locally) or for any other reason are they given the right to paddle or strike someone else's child. That means, that it is a God-given right for the parents to do the correcting.

I raised my two children by myself and one is the very best daughter that could ever live on the face of the earth, and she has given me two of the best grandchildren there ever was and she has been to college twice, and is now going to become an RN.

I also have a son I raised. He and his wife have gone to Illinois and worked at the college, He was listed in the top three on the dean's list, and now they are both studing in Virginia at one of the best schools in the nation.

I did paddle their behind, but I was consistent with it, and you know what that caused? Well, I just told you what it caused and we all are very close.

Now if you don't like the South and its ways, all you have to do is leave it.

Bud Mansel

* * *

Six years ago, a Canadian school principal was busted for possessing child pornography. Specifically, he collected pictures of children being spanked. Turns out he'd also spanked a number of students during his career.

In 2002, the FBI broke up a nationwide child-spanking pornography ring. A few of its members even made films using their own kids, who could be heard tearfully pleading their innocence.

Now, it's not really news that spanking can take on sexual overtones, as anyone who's seen "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" can tell you. If you doubt it, just type "spanking" into a search engine and see what kind of results you get. And since there are people out there who are sexually drawn to children, it figures that some would enjoy spanking them.

Tragically for many victims, though, society has mostly failed to recognize the potential for sexual abuse in the practice of spanking children--or even young adults, as is often the case with school paddling. Perpetrators can often deflect suspicion simply by playing the discipline card.

Tom Johnson

* * *

The problem with paddling children, even in schools, is it is defined differently by different people. Far too many come very close to and even overstep that thin line between simple discipline and abuse. They can't tell the difference, no matter how educated or professional.

When I worked in the school system in the '80s before going to Texas, I saw abuse of school children disguised as discipline.

In Africa that old saying it takes a village to raise a child may have merit. However, America is too dysfunctional a society with varying levels of intolerance and biases for it to hold true here. It's true that inner-city black kids, especially blacks boys, and poor white boys are more likely to suffer corporal punishment in schools.

I remember overhearing a teacher telling fellow teachers who were joking about how they'd hit this or that student say, "OK! Y'all think it's funny. But one of these days these children are going to be big enough to hit back. Then what?" I think we're experiencing the results of all that hitting now in waves upon waves of youth violence and acting out in other negative and self-mutilating ways.

You can't teach young people tolerance by being intolerant. You can't teach children non-violence by hitting them. You can't teach children compassion by being indifferent and dispassionate. Children don't listen to adults. They emulate adult behavior. And you can't take it for granted that just because a person is educated or a professional that they won't overstep that line where simple discipline stops and abuse begins.

Brenda Washington

* * *

Dear Ms. Slockbower,

With carpetbaggers like you no wonder people in the South think so little of our northern neighbors. Why in the world wouldn't we be ever so grateful to be told we live in the dark ages? Next thing you know you're going to be telling us that trailer parks and wearing flip flops to the mall are not matters of haute couture. I would imagine you find collard greens and live wrasslin' offensive, as well.

I know we probably do act a bit strange to you with our funny customs and all. But you know what, we seem to be pretty happy in our own little backwards backwoods world. Tell me, were you forced to move here or are you on some sort of mission trip from your church up north to save us poor backslidin' southern sinners from ourselves? Well, Ms. Slockbower, as that venerable gentleman from South Georgia, Mr. Lewis Grizzard, used to say, "Delta's ready when you are."

As for corporal punishment, I guess I'm akin to the other gentleman writer who stated he was from those dark ages you mentioned. I can remember several trips to the principal's office at the dearly departed East Lake Junior High School. They weren't to receive a good citizen's awards, either. On those occasions I had presented myself as less a gentleman than my parents and grandparents had raised me. I took my licks with a stiff upper lip, determined not to cry in front of my school mates. I went on my way to sin no more. And when I got home, believe me, my folks made sure I was reminded that I had not done them - or myself - proud.

Did it affect me in a negative way? I think not. Those little prayer meetings with Mr. Lucien Smith did me a world of good. They showed me that there were consequences for actions that flew in the face of rules and policy.

Too many times today I see kids who have never had any discipline at all, much less a spanking or paddling. And, Ms. Slockbower, let me acknowledge, there is a line between a paddling and abuse. Abuse is flat out wrong - period; but we do not do our children a favor when we choose not to discipline them, either. These kids without discipline are the ones in trouble day in and day out. They are the ones who disdain authority and grow up with the belief that the world owes them.

Some future we have to look forward to, huh? Thankfully, there are parents out there who believe in discipline and their kids are the ones we can count on.

Let me close by giving you a word of advice. You can come down here and enjoy our BBQ and join our Junior League, just don't be telling us how much better it is up in Yankee-land.

Dennis Norwood

* * *

Don't you just love it when the "do-gooders" have to save us from ourselves? We still have the option of paddling school children in Hamilton County. Yes, before long, we may have indoor plumbing, eating utensils, and them fancy talking picture shows around these parts. It's a good thing we have transplants to tell us how badly we do things.

For the record, last I heard, Japan uses corporal punishment and their drop-out record is virtually nil. I've seen video footage of students being disciplined in the classroom with a stick only slightly thinner than a baseball bat and about the length of a golf club. Were they struck on their rear ends? Nope, rather right across the lower back as they bent over. The reaction? The students bowed to the teacher and apologized for disrespectful behavior.

As someone who was paddled (and spanked at home) on a regular and frequent basis in high-school, I can tell you that I suffered no ill effects. I remember vividly being forced by my babysitters when I was young (about five years old) to go get my own switch for having disobeyed them.

I am not a violent person. I don't torture small animals. I have no trouble in social situations. I graduated near the top of my class. I wasn't a bully. In short, I'm pretty well-adjusted and certainly don't carry any "emotional scars" as others have ridiculously implied.

I deserved every paddling I ever received (most of which were due to my sense of humor). The picture that gets painted by the anti-paddling crowd is that of teachers walking around with "Ol' Hickory" saying "Go ahead. Make my day." To get a paddling, a student really has to step out of line.

Ask any teacher (not some egghead PhD. who wouldn't know real world disciplinary problems if they bit him or her on the backside) about the decline of discipline in schools and you'll most likely find that it in fact is in correlation with the decline in corporal punishment. With such cerebral cities like Boston having discarded corporal punishment years ago, shouldn't we follow suit? I mean, why not given that when I lived there just seven years ago half the students and teachers failed their respective statewide proficiency exams? Spare the rod, spoil the child.

Joel Walker
Actual resident of Hamilton County

* * *

Ms. Slockbower complains that her child came home from school and informed her that a classmate had been paddled. This should have been very good news for her. It meant that the other child got the paddling and it made such an impression on her nine-year-old that he wouldn't be taking any chances. He wouldn't want to get the same punishment.

Paddling usually kills several birds with one stone and this is a classic case - her kid was impressed. Ms. Slockbower needs to rethink the situation - her child had just learned a valuable lesson that probably would have stayed with him and helped him become a better student and better citizen in the long run.

I am appalled that Ms Slockbower considers this a north vs. south situation. Well, granny, the possum gravy is almost ready. This is ignorance at its best. Talk about the dark ages. I haven't heard this train of thought in 40 years. Misbehaving students get paddlings from one corner of this country to another.

I feel sorry for your child and I hope your opinion doesn't affect his relationship with his schoolmates.

The comment from the guy from Ohio is absolutely meaningless. This is an opinion article in a local newspaper. We already know what your side has to say. There is just no place here for a "professional" who has a personal agenda to satisfy. If we need you we will call you.

Hitting children with boards? Huh? I think not. It's called paddling. Haven't heard of any broken bones around here either. That would be called abuse, not paddling, which is a totally different subject. Teachers getting their kicks from paddling? Haven't heard of that one either. That would be called sadism, lady, not paddling, and that is a totally different subject. Hitting your wife? Totally different situation again. Why did you refer to the man hitting the woman? Oh, I get it now. Another stereotype. Women don't hit men, do they? Well, I have news for you -spouse would be more appropriate. Your tactics only work on those who can't think for themselves.

Even Spock admitted he had erred. Before his death, he stated that his mindset of not spanking had harmed two generations of children and their parents. The kids had not learned the simple rules of cause and effect and that they were accountable for their actions. The parents had borne the brunt end of it.

Give the child a spanking at home and most of them learn about cause and effect and behave better in general. Give the kindergarten teacher a paddle and we will have fewer guns in high schools.

Fred Roper

* * *

As a public school teacher, and parent of a child in a public school, I can assure you that as a parent you have a choice and an opportunity to indicate your wishes on paddling. If you missed that page in the registration packet a note written to your child's teacher will take care of the situation.

As a parent, I become weary of hearing the tales told to me by my daughter concerning the behavior of some of her classmates. These students are interfering with her right to learn. As a teacher, I become weary of dealing with the students that interfere with my responsibility to teach. These students are few and far between but they do exist.

To support the teachers of my child, she has been warned since her very first day of kindergarten that her behavior is her responsibility. In the event she finds herself in trouble she can expect an appropriate response from her parents. A paddling at school will warrant a paddling at home; questions will be asked for clarification but don't expect to get out of punishment.

Where I teach, paddling is used as a last resort. The children that reach this level of punishment have gone through many "chances" to "make the right choices" where their behavior is concerned. Verbal warnings and corrections, loss of recess privileges, written assignments, requests of parents for help, temporarily moving to another teacher's classroom, visits to the assistant principal's office and principal's office, behavior contracts, short term suspension are frequently used before paddling is even considered. I am reminded of a phrase I heard my grandmother use, "Sometimes it takes a 2x4 to get the mule's attention."

Teachers should not have to give up their teaching time to deal with students that are completely out of control. Teaching a child how to correctly behave in various situations is a parental responsibility. To the 98% of parents that are accepting their responsibility – thank you. To the other 2% - wake up, your child needs you to guide them so they may become law-abiding citizens, not residents in one of our correctional facilities.

C L Cook

* * *

I remember very well, like it was yesterday, the morning my daddy caught me going under the fence after skipping school. I was a third grade student at Harrison elementary and I decided I would go fishing this particular day.

Well after getting a dang good spanking (with the belt) I was loaded up and carried to school. My teacher Ms. Fitzgerald was a hefty lady with a mean right hand. My dad turned me over to her and proudly watched her dish out about ten swats from her paddle with holes in it. I will never forget him walking off smiling about the whole ordeal.

I will tell you this, I never skipped school again in my life. Mrs. Slockpower you can say what you want but that paddling probably kept me out of a lot of trouble later on and I firmly believe if used more there would be less trouble in our schools.

John Sertel

* * *

I disagree with Stacy Slockbower's opinion on corporal punishment. I was raised in a home where corporal punishment was used when necessary along with lots of positive reinforcement when I did what was good and right. I will be forever grateful for the many occasions when short-lived pain was inflicted on my posterior in order to help me avoid much more permanent and far-reaching pain later on in my life.

However, I especially feel compelled to point out that if Stacy were as enlightened as she apparently considers herself to be, then she would know better than to make insulting statements about people who happened to be born and raised in the South. I was born and (for the most part) raised in the South. I highly resent her not so subtle slam against those of us who are part of the southern culture.

First of all, because it comes across as a thinly-veiled attempt to demean us as if we are living in the cultural "dark ages" (I think that was her choice of words).

Secondly, because her statement is riddled with unsubstantiated assumptions. For example: "people think so little of people in the South." Oh really? And where did she find the data to support this assumption? My wife lived in a "northern" state all her life until she married this "southern" boy. And now, after living in Hamilton County for almost eight years, she can hardly imagine living anywhere else.

Or this one: "Children aren't allowed to pray in school, but they are allowed to get beaten." If she understood the law, she would realize that it is not illegal for a child to bow his/her head and silently pray in a public school classroom as long as he/she is not doing so when he/she should be participating in a class, etc. Furthermore, whatever federal laws do apply to prayer in schools would also apply in all the U.S. - not just in the south. It is also a ridiculous bit of hyperbole to say that children "are allowed to get beaten" at school. I'm confident that if such an incident truly did occur, it would be headline news, and those responsible would be held accountable. A spanking is not the same thing as a beating.

My advice to Mrs. Slockbower is that she should get the facts straight before she makes such bold assertions. She also ought to live in Hamilton County long enough to form some meaningful friendships with some of the fine southern people who live here. If she does so, she will find that we do not live in the "dark ages." Many of us are well-educated, well-informed, good-hearted people who simply believe that just because an idea or (in this case) method is old-fashioned doesn't mean we should automatically discard it.

Richard G. Hutchison

* * *

I do have to disagree with Mrs.Slockbower. I have been out of school now for 16 years and I can’t believe how much it has changed. When I was in school students had a lot more respect for their teachers and parents. Society has caused all of this.

With people like Mrs. Slockbower it’s only going to get worse. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard "my child wouldn’t do that" or "my child doesn’t lie." When parents start saying these things that is when they have a problem. Children do lie and they do get into trouble and when they do they need to be punished and I don’t mean ISS or detention, I mean paddling them and I assure you a lot of these trouble making kids that are disrupting class will figure out real fast that they can’t do as they please.

I remember a teacher at Ider High School that no one wanted a paddling from. Sometimes if you got in trouble your teacher would tell you to go to Friday morning board meeting. This is the paddlers class. When you were paddled by this man you didn’t want another one plus you got another one when you got home.

This is what we need now. It would stop a lot of these kids that think they can do what ever they please. When I was in school you never heard of a kid coming into school and shooting people like you do now. When a child knows they have a parent who believes everything they say it makes corporal punishment hard for schools to utilize.

For all you parents out there who think that "timeout, grounding, standing in the corner or writing sentences” is going to teach your child how to respect and treat people right, think again. Mrs. Slockbower, if you don’t like the way we raise kids in the south, to have the great hospitality the south is known for, then go north where the crimes, rapes and murders are a lot worse and corporal punishment is not used. Maybe you will be happier and I know the BOE will be happy to know that you are one person they will not have to deal with in the future.

Scott Hancock
Flat Rock, Ala.

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