corpunWorld Corporal Punishment Research

ruler   :  Archive   :  2002   :  US Schools Dec 2002



School CP - December 2002

KARK-TV, Little Rock, Arkansas, 4 December 2002

Spanking In Schools

By Sonseeahray Tonsall

If your child acts up at home, you may use spanking as a form of punishment. Should your child get that same kind of treatment at school? Right now, the U.S. Department of Education is looking into a complaint made about corporal punishment in our state. The complaint was filed by Randy Cox with the "Never Hit A Child" group, in Little Rock. He believes school spanking damages kids. However, some kids and parents disagree.

On Tuesday, Jared Rieathbaum was walking up the hall toward a paddling by his principal, at South Cabot Junior High. "I got in trouble in the locker room...just goofing around..."

Jared chose to be punished with two licks. He likes this better. "I'd rather get licks at school, than have to get up early and have to go to d-hall for 3 or 5 days..."

Jared and his brother have been paddled in Cabot schools, and years ago, so was their dad. Jared's father sees no problem with it. "I've never had a principal, or any teacher, leave a mark on any of my kids after a paddling, it's not an abusive paddling to me, it's more just to get their attention."

The "Never Hit A Child" group hopes numbers posted on its website will get the federal government's attention. According to state statistics, paddling was used more than 52,000 times, last school year. Amounting to about 2 trips to the office for almost 26,000 kids. Still, those on the receiving end tout the benefits. According to the "Never Hit A Child" website, White county is the least safe place for a public school child, with more than 39,000 paddlings, last year.

The Searcy Superintendent didn't respond to our calls, and the creator of the website did not want to speak on camera. The Office of Civil Rights, under the U.S. Department of Education, now has 30 days to decide what action, if any, it will take about Arkansas' corporal punishment policy.

All content Copyright 2000, 2001, 2002, KARK-TV, Little Rock, Arkansas.
All Rights Reserved.

Wall Street Journal, New York, 13 December 2002

De Gustibus

Classroom Naps Under Attack!

A toss of the Koosh beats a whack on the tush.

By Michael Judge

One of my favorite middle-school teachers, Mr. McDougal, a no-nonsense, silver-haired Irishman with a passion for the English language, could hurl a chalk-filled eraser in the direction of a sleeping (or otherwise inattentive) student with impressive velocity and near-absolute accuracy. When Mr. McDougal wasn't drilling us on etymologies, he was drilling us -- with a dramatic burst of white powder -- right between the eyes.

That was a quarter-century ago, and though I am not certain that Mr. McDougal has left this world for the next, I can say with certainty that the following story would have him turning in his grave (if he has) or shaking his head (if he hasn't).

Today, an unfortunate South Carolinian named Nina Morrison awaits trial for tossing a light, rubbery "Koosh Ball" in the direction of a sixth-grade girl who had decided that she needed sleep more than she needed to pay attention in class. Ms. Morrison was the sleepy girl's teacher, understandably perturbed with her student's choice of naptime.

To sum up: The girl fell asleep; the teacher, according to her attorney, proceeded to "toss the Koosh Ball onto the desk . . . and that was it." And that, no doubt, would have been it had the girl's mother not pressed charges against Ms. Morrison, who must appear in court on Dec. 16. The supposed crime? Assault and battery, which carries a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $1,000.

As if that weren't enough, school administrators launched their own investigation, which found Ms. Morrison guilty of an "error in judgment" and suspended her from teaching for one day. For those of you keeping score: Snoozing Students 1, Teachers 0.

All this would be laughable if it weren't emblematic of a larger problem. In a society where teen violence and school shootings are the subject of endless talk-show debate, where metal detectors are standard issue in some school districts, we're charging teachers with assault if they dare toss a rubber ball at a sleeping child.

Never mind the more traditional methods of classroom discipline. Twenty-seven states have outlawed corporal punishment; the other 23 have left it to the discretion of individual school boards, which are increasingly making it a sin punishable by dismissal.

The professional organizations are no help in these matters. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends "that corporal punishment in schools be abolished in all states by law." The academy says that physically disciplining a child "may adversely affect a student's self-image and school achievement and that it may contribute to disruptive and violent student behavior." Other opponents of corporal punishment include the American Medical Association, the National Education Association and the American Bar Association.

So what, exactly, is corporal punishment? The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry defines it as "a discipline method in which a supervising adult deliberately inflicts pain upon a child in response to a child's unacceptable behavior and/or inappropriate language." Tossing a Koosh Ball or an eraser doesn't really qualify.

Here's an example that might, though it is hard to get too worked up over it: Two mischievous students of North Carolina's Cape Fear Middle School were spanked by school administrators after they were caught "mooning" a school bus this past Halloween. In other words, after introducing their shiny little bottoms to the world, their bottoms were introduced to a shiny wooden paddle -- three times. The good news here is that the kids were given a chance to cover their bottoms before they were spanked; the bad news is that the children's parents were outraged, calling for an end to the practice altogether.

Clearly there are degrees to any form of punishment. It should, in my opinion, be left to school administrators to decide when a teacher has stepped over the line. Parents will always have recourse to the courts. But to outlaw any punishment that "inflicts pain" in all schools is a silly nanny-state remedy.

Would it, for instance, be illegal to make a student run laps around the gym for calling the gym teacher a fat cow? This would "inflict pain" on many of our unfit, Nintendo-addicted lovelies. Surely the practice of standing in the corner for more than 15 minutes could be deemed to "inflict pain." Sister Irene, my fourth-grade teacher, who slapped me on the wrists at least once a week for rolling up the sleeves of my school uniform -- "Always washing dishes!" -- wouldn't have lasted a day in today's environment.

Mr. McDougal, wherever you are, watch your back.

Mr. Judge is an assistant features editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.

The Ledger, Lakeland, Florida, 14 December 2002

Power of Mr. Dixon's Paddle

As a classmate of Lonnie Brown's, I remember the "Briggs and Stratton Engine Chase" quite well ["Bud Dixon: Friendly Hard Worker Made Good," editorial column, Sunday]. I also remember that Mr. Dixon is the only teacher who ever gave me a paddling. And, now, 41 years later, I am glad he did.

My father was killed in a car wreck when I was 6 years old. My mother, Dorothy Booker, had a hard enough time trying to take care of an aging relative, work a full-time job, and try and raise a teenage son.

It was the spring of 1961 and, after lunch, several of us went over to Cason's to get a candy bar and sit on the railing outside of the basement cafeteria at the "old junior high."

Well, I threw down my candy wrapper, and Mr. Dixon came over and told me to not only pick up the wrapper but pick up all the candy wrappers on the schoolyard before lunch was over. I picked up the wrapper and made a half-hearted attempt at some of the other trash until he had left. Then I threw down all of the papers and went on to fourth period.

When I got to fifth-period shop, Mr. Dixon was waiting for me, and told me that I should not have disobeyed him and that I would have to be punished. Three licks with that big wooden paddle that he kept in his office -- the kind that made a distinctive sound up and down the halls of the basement shop.

At age 13, I was too big for my mother to paddle, but Mr. Dixon gave me my wake-up call. Oh sure, I got into some minor trouble in school after that, talking in class, the usual kid stuff, but nothing serious. When a teacher told me to do something, I did it.

I worked my way through college, graduating from Florida Southern College, and I have recently retired from a 31-year career with the city of Lakeland. But I have never been in any trouble since that spring of 1961. I always voted for Mr. Dixon, and I am eternally grateful for that paddling.



The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Indiana, 23 December 2002

ACS to consider eliminating corporal punishment

By Ken de la Bastide
Senior Reporter

Corporal punishment in the Anderson Community Schools could be eliminated depending on whether the school board agrees with the opinion of Superintendent Tim Long.

Long said he thinks corporal punishment should be eliminated and he is considering recommending to the school board that it be removed from the policies of ACS.

"The time has passed for public schools to implement corporal punishment," said Long on Friday.

"It is a policy decision for the board to make, but I will recommend that it be eliminated."

Long said corporal punishment was on the books for the Monroe Central School Corp. when he was superintendent there but it was used very sparingly.

"There was probably one student that was paddled during my five years there," he said.

Long said there are other, more effective ways to work through disciplinary problems with students.

"I have revisited my position over the past few years," he said. "I'm opposed to it in a public environment."

The ACS policy states that if a student is to receive corporal punishment it should be witnessed by a teacher and school administrator and that parents are then notified of the action taken.

Other school systems in Madison County continue to have a corporal punishment as a policy, but it is rarely if ever used.

Ned Speicher, superintendent of Frankton-Lapel Community Schools, said he suspended the use of corporal punishment in the schools three years ago.

"It's on our books, but I suspended its use," he said.

"I had some concerns about it. It will remain suspended for the foreseeable future. It is still legal, but I have a problem with it."

Speicher said he wouldn't recommend to the school board that the policy be eliminated.

"Although its use is suspended, there may be some instance that we are not aware of," he said. "By keeping it on the books it will protect the school system."

Tom Austin, superintendent of Elwood Community Schools, said corporal punishment remains a policy of the school district but is used very infrequently.

"There are three corporatewide policies," Austin said. "There is a broad policy on discipline. The administration reviews the policy every spring and then makes recommendations to the school board if there is a need for a change."

Austin said elimination of corporal punishment has never been considered because of its infrequent use in the schools.

Robert Zimmerman, superintendent of South Madison Community Schools, said corporal punishment has not been an issue.

"I don't anticipate a change in the policy," he said.

"It is used as a last resort in a discipline problem and we use it infrequently."

Zimmerman said if corporal punishment is imposed it takes place in front of the teacher and the principal of the school or his designee.

2000 The Herald Bulletin. A cnhi Newspaper

Charlotte Sun Herald, Port Charlotte, Florida, 30 December 2002

Change in law made King's conviction possible

By James M. Abraham
Senior Writer

Monday, when the Rev. Paul King is expected to be sentenced for felony child abuse, several parents in Charlotte County may be asking why justice took so long. Over the years, complaints have been filed by parents who claimed that King's paddling of their children was excessive and left damages only years may undo.

King was convicted last month in Circuit Judge Sherra Winesett's courtroom, after testimony convinced jurors that he beat a girl enrolled at his Charlotte County Christian Academy so severely that the punishment left welts.

King testified that the girl had broken school rules, hence she deserved the punishment. But a jury didn't buy it, particularly after a witness to the beating said King raised his hand as high "as the Statue of Liberty," before swinging the paddle into the girl's buttocks. For many parents, the trial conjured up memories of the humiliation they say their children felt at King's hands.

Worse, some parents say that the way King treated their children caused them to lose faith in King and the doctrine he represented.

"I looked at him as God," said Shelley McMullen, who helped King start his school back in 1995. "Which is wrong because he's just a man. We wanted to get a group of parents together to protest what he did. But it really annoys me that it's taken so many years."

McMullen's son Philip was one of the original students at King's school. Soon after enrolling him, McMullen lost her first husband. She said her son began acting up. One day in 1997, King paddled him.

"Philip was black and blue from above his butt to below his knees," she recalled. "They talk about paddling, but this was a beating."

Horrified, McMullen called both the state attorney's office and the state Health and Rehabilitative Services Department, the antecedent of the Department of Families and Children.

"They questioned me," she said of the state agency, "But nothing ever came of it. I talked to the state attorney's office, but nothing ever happened."

The bruises on her son's body healed, but that accounted only for the surface damage.

"Philip lost his faith, he just didn't trust authority," she said. For a young man who had just lost his father, then was beaten by a man he respected, the experience hurt deeply.

McMullen later remarried, but the scars remained.

"Philip just didn't trust men," she said. "I've been with (her second husband) for eight years, but last week was the first time Philip shook hands with him."

Loss of faith

That loss of faith and alienation was felt by another former student at King's school. Michelle Stauffer, now 18, still bristles when she recalls what happened to her back in 1997.

King, she said, became outraged when she laughed at him.

"All I remember is seeing the floor," she said. "He pulled my arm behind my back, picked me up and threw me in a chair."

When Stauffer's mother showed up to pick her up, King ordered her to paddle Stauffer.

"After that I lost all my faith in God," Stauffer said. "I didn't get it back for a while."

Worse, Stauffer felt that her mother had betrayed her. It was only after Stauffer's mother, Patty Christy, paddled her at King's insistence that the two discussed what had led to the incident. Once Christy heard her daughter's story and saw the bruises from King's manhandling of the girl, she felt that King had used her against her own flesh and blood.

She sought to press charges against King. But, again, the state attorney's office told her there was not enough evidence. The experience, Stauffer said, haunted her for years.

"I was fine before I went (to King's school), when I came out I started acting out real bad," Stauffer said. "I had a lot of anger in me because it was kind of humiliating."

Relations between the mother and daughter have healed. But the experience, say both women, left a gulf of mistrust and guilt between them for years.

Both women felt vindicated last month, after King was found guilty of felony child abuse. King has refused to talk to the Sun for comment.

Laws changed

Local law enforcement authorities say they did their best, but were unable to launch a case.

"Any case that came to light would have been properly investigated and the results would have been turned over to the state attorney," said Charlotte County Sheriff William E. Clement. "In some cases the results were 'warrant denied.' That doesn't mean they weren't properly investigated, but the state attorney's office has the final say in whether a warrant request is honored or not."

John Burns, the assistant state attorney who successfully prosecuted King, said changes in state law made the difference between previous cases and that of Kimberly Malloy's.

Until a year ago, Florida law gave parents and those acting in parental capacities, such as teachers, the right to spank children within reason. But there was little middle ground in the law between a whack on the butt and aggravated or extreme child abuse.

In 1987 that position was reaffirmed in a Supreme Court ruling that read, in part:

"Although a person who spanks a child technically commits a battery, the parties do not dispute the well-established principle that a parent, or one acting in loco parentis, does not commit a crime by inflicting corporal punishment on a child subject to his authority if he remains within the legal limits of the exercise of that authority."

But all that changed in 2000, because of a revision in the law which made "the intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child," punishable as a third-degree felony.

The slow evolution of state child abuse law made the prosecution of Paul King possible for Tammy Pipkin and her daughter, Kimberly Malloy, but impossible for parents who, prior to Pipkin's complaint, had sought justice for their children.

"In a lot of the cases that came before, while my personal belief was that it was child abuse, the state of the law meant that we couldn't file anything," Burns said.

The change in the law was confirmed in September of 2000, when the state's Supreme Court rejected an appeal from a man who was sent to prison for beating his girlfriend's daughter with a belt. The man, Willie Raford, claimed he was protected under state law as it applies to parental privilege in using corporal punishment. He was charged with aggravated child abuse but convicted of felony child abuse.

During the King trial his lawyer, Mark Gruwell, argued that corporal punishment was part of the Christian school's curriculum. He also attempted to steer a course through a shortcoming in the state law -- the lack of definition as to what constitutes harm to the child.

Winesett, while allowing Burns and King's lawyer Mark Gruwell ample opportunity to challenge one another's presentations, drew the line at falling into the trap left by the Supreme Court in the Raford decision. The high court specifically declined to define physical and mental injury. Because the court did not define what constituted harm to a child, Gruwell sought to minimize the effects of Malloy's paddling. King, when showed photographs of Malloy's buttocks after the beating, attempted to discredit them by suggesting that they may have been altered.

But what swayed the jury, Burns said, were the photographs of Malloy's buttocks taken shortly after the paddling. The pictures clearly show welts and the imprint of a board on the girl's skin, which is flushed and red around the area where she was struck twice with a board. King said he punished Malloy for lying and cheating on an exam.

Burns acknowledged that Malloy's testimony, as well as the recollections of witnesses and a nurse, helped convict King, but he said the photographs spoke most eloquently.

"When you see those photographs, the first reaction is usually a gasp then an 'oh my God,'" Burns said. "The general reaction is, 'whatever a person did to cause this, this is too much.'"

blob Follow-up: 11 December 2004 - Pastor's paddling sentence tossed

The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News Network, 30 December 2002

Factor Flashback

Interview With Phil Barker, Salome Thomas-El

John Gibson, Bill O'Reilly

GIBSON: Thanks for staying with us. I'm John Gibson in for Bill O'Reilly.

And in THE FACTOR "Flashback" Segment, one of the reasons for the collapse in the public school system is a lack of discipline, but, in 23 states, school officials are still allowed to issue corporal punishment often in the form of paddling. Is that right or wrong?

Bill recently spoke to Phil Barker, the superintendent of schools in Jefferson County, Florida, and Salome Thomas-El, the principal at Reynolds Elementary School and author of the book "I Choose to Stay." Here's what happened when they entered the no-spin zone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BILL O'REILLY, HOST: All right, Mr. Barker, let's start with you, since you do use capital punishment in your school district, in middle school and grammar school, and you yourself have imposed that punishment.

Who gets it?

PHIL BARKER, JEFFERSON COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: Well, the -- it's not a first alternative, when students are sent to the office, to get paddled or to be disciplined at all. It is in our school board policies that do -- we allow that at all three schools -- the elementary, the middle, and the high school. However, it's not our first alternative.

O'REILLY: All right. All right. Fine. I mean, we understand you're not running around with a paddle whacking kids.

BARKER: Right.

O'REILLY: Who gets it and why?

BARKER: Well, students -- children from kindergarten all the way up through the 8th grade could get it based on the behavior that they' ve had in the past.

O'REILLY: Well, give me an example. You've paddled some kids. Give me an example of somebody who got that.

BARKER: OK. Say, for example, Johnny's been in my office three, four, five times. I've conferenced with him, I've talked to his folks, his parents, and he continues to come to the office.

And I call the folks, and I say, "Now it's time that Johnny needs to go into in-school suspension or out-of-school suspension or an alternative placement." They say, "No, Mr. Barker. Can you spank him right there and get him back to class?" I'll say, "Absolutely." O'REILLY: All right. So it's an alternative to suspension or to something more drastic, and the parents have to OK it.

BARKER: Right, Yes, sir. That's correct.

O'REILLY: All right. So then what happens? The kid bends over and you whack him a couple of times?

BARKER Two times with the paddle.

O'REILLY: On the -- on the butt?

BARKER: On the behind. Yes, sir.

O'REILLY: OK. But he keeps his clothes on.

BARKER: And before...

O'REILLY: He keeps his clothes on and everything, right?

BARKER: Oh, absolutely. Before I do that, you ask the child, "Do you know why you're receiving a spanking?" and they usually say yes, and they understand why they are. They repeat to you why they're being spanked, and, at the same time, you also have a witness in the office.

O'REILLY: Yes. You've got to have somebody there.

BARKER: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: Now would that -- would it be cursing a teacher? Would it -- what would, you know, be -- I understand, you know, continual disruption, but you've got to have an offense there to send you to the office anyway.

BARKER: Right.

O'REILLY: What would the offense be?

BARKER: Well, it could be cursing, but, typically, maybe not on the first or second time the child's been in the office, but you have a...

O'REILLY: Yes, I got you. Progressive...

BARKER: ... habitual...

O'REILLY: Progressive behavioral problem.

BARKER: Right. Habitual offender.

O'REILLY: Now do the kids -- do the kids cry when you hit them?

BARKER: Sometimes they do.

O'REILLY: Do you hit them hard? I mean, are you winding up?

BARKER: Oh, no, sir.

O'REILLY: Are you giving them a blast?

BARKER: Oh, no, sir. It's just two quick pops with a paddle. I handled it over 12 years in the school system, and it's two quick pops with the paddle, and then you counsel them some more, talk to them more, and you send them on their way. And, in 10 minutes' time, there's nothing else.

You're giving them a hug.

O'REILLY: All right. Mr. Thomas-El, how do you react to that?

SALOME THOMAS-EL, PENNSYLVANIA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: I don' t know how it is in a small district, but -- three schools is a lot different than 250 schools.

So we're an inner-city school district, and we have -- you're talking thousands of kids, thousands of new cases every day of children who are being abused at home. So those children come into school and face that same abuse, if not more?

To me, it doesn't work. And, if you look at the schools that are using this corporal punishment rule -- on the spanked kids, if you look at the achievement, there is no evidence, there's no science that says that these kids or these schools are achieving at a higher rate than schools who do not.

O'REILLY: All right. But, in Philadelphia, as you know, Mr. Thomas- El, the school system collapsed...


O'REILLY: ... because the kids couldn't be controlled. Could not be controlled by the principals or the teachers. So how do you, sir, discipline a child who looks you in the eye and says, "F you. I'm going to do what I want, and you can go whatever." How do you discipline them?

THOMAS-EL: Well, you know what, Bill? The kids don't look me in the eye and say that because I come to work every day, I'm a professional, I treat my work as a professional, and I treat kids like they're individuals and human beings. I treat them with respect.

I've been teaching kids to play chess for almost 10 years. These kids have won eight national championships, seven consecutive titles. We teach them to be competitive but non-violent. We teach them to critically think, to problem solve.

That's the only way to...

O'REILLY: But you must have some discipline problems in your school, and other teachers aren't as commanding a presence as you are. They must have some. How do you discipline the kids who are really, as you said, abused at home, very emotionally troubled, don't care? How do you do it?

THOMAS-EL: Well, to be quite honest with you, if we're really going to fix this problem, we've got to fix our homes in America. I mean...

O'REILLY: All right, but we can't get into that tonight. I mean, I...


O'REILLY: ... agree. Bad parenting is the root cause. But how, Mr. Thomas-El, do you discipline a child who's causing a disruption in your school?

THOMAS-EL: Again, if I -- we have detention, we have -- we try to teach children conflict resolution, but the last thing I want to teach them is that violence begets violence. I don't want to...

O'REILLY: All right.

THOMAS-EL: I don't want to show kids -- because they beat up -- they want to beat up on each other enough. So for adults to beat up on them is just not -- it hasn't worked, and it doesn't send kids the right message.

O'REILLY: All right, Mr. Barker. Now Mr. Thomas-El is basically saying -- and I believe he's -- it's totally accurate -- that where he is, all right, violence is really breeding the disciplinary problem, and there may not be the structure and the -- in your rural district -- there is a lot more chaos in his district than your district. So I'm going to put you, Mr. Barker, in Mr. Thomas-El's position. Would you still use corporal punishment in the inner city?

BARKER: Yes, sir, I would. Even in the rural district area where we live, you know, we have same -- you know, same circumstances. But, again, the corporal punishment is not our first alternative. It's just another intervention to use if the in-school suspension does not work...

O'REILLY: But could it make things worse because Mr. Thomas-El is saying, look, if...

BARKER: Well, I will say this.

O'REILLY: ... the adults impose the violence, that's just going to heighten the violence for the kid.

BARKER: Well, again, in a small rural district, it may not -- what you do -- you take each child and each case differently and separately. If it does not work on Johnny and you've spanked him, say, the first time, and then, two weeks later, you spanked him again and you see that it is not working, you don't go -- use that alternative anymore. You go to a different alternative.

But, on the other side, you may see Billy that first time and a stern look, a hard talk, or one time getting paddled...

O'REILLY: Yes, every kid is different.

BARKER: ... might get his attention.

O'REILLY: All right. I'm going to let -- I'm going to let Mr. Thomas-El wrap it up for us. You know, I -- I was a high school teacher, sir, and I couldn't save everybody. I saved a lot of them, but about 20-percent, nothing I could do to get through to them.

THOMAS-EL: I admire you.

O'REILLY: What do you do with the kids that you just can't save?

What do you do with them?

THOMAS-EL: We keep trying. I mean, where do you go from spanking the kid? What's the next level? Are you going to drag them through tar and feather them?

You know, I just think we have to try to reach and teach each kid.

Every kid needs someone to be crazy about them. The last thing we want to do is continue the cycle of abuse.

We've got to embrace kids and teach them that education gives them options, and it's the only way that they're going to survive in America.

O'REILLY: All right, but the other thing -- and I -- this is just my opinion -- you can't make that message known until you have calm and discipline in the school, but it looks...

THOMAS-EL: That's right.

O'REILLY: ... like both of you gentleman are on top of it, and we appreciate your time very much tonight.

THOMAS-EL: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE) GIBSON: And coming up, documents from one of the most notorious UFO sightings in history are finally released. Is the truth out there or "out there"? Stick around.


Content and programming Copyright 2002 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2002 Federal Document Clearing House, Inc., which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

blob THE ARCHIVE index  Main menu page

Copyright Colin Farrell 2003, 2005
Page updated: June 2005