Legalizing Abuse? How Can We Expect to Stop Violence?

Recently someone shared the following link from Fox News with me containing the headline “Texas School District Approves Paddling for Misbehaving Students.”

diane sitting on steps with three kidsThe article begins with the following: “Officials at a Texas school district have approved a controversial new disciplinary practice on students: paddling. The Three Rivers Independent School board of trustees in South Texas approved the policy Tuesday, which would allow for paddles to be used as corporal punishment against misbehaving students.” This policy has been approved for the 2017-2018 school year.

My heart sinks –while my blood boils—when I read headlines like this.

The amount of research clearly stating how abusive corporal punishment is should convince every parent, every school, every state in America, and every place in the world this form of “discipline” is not only ineffective, it is abusive.

Myths about the need for and importance of corporal punishment continue to abound. These myths are perpetrated by people who are either ignorant of or unwilling to read the evidence-based research that debunks any belief that somehow hitting children will make them more respectful and better behaved.

I think of a child out there who will go to school tomorrow, struggling to self-regulate often because of unhealthy home environments filled with chaos and instability.

Emotional damage is traumatic for a child.

The child could either be dragged in front of a class of peers or down to a principal’s office to be hit repeatedly with a paddle. The physical pain inflicted does not come close to the emotional damage any kind of hitting or paddling incurs.

That child will not understand that the adults who inflict this humiliating form of punishment are expecting it to somehow help them become more self-regulated and better behaved as a result. It’s crazy! It’s illogical! We don’t tolerate adults beating each other— it’s called aggravated assault! How then is it permissible if that assault to be perpetrated against a child?

I encourage all caring parents and adults who want to preserve and protect the emotional health of children to make their voices heard.

We need to educate any parent or system that has not yet been exposed to the research or that refuses to listen.

I think all of us must protect every child from this legalized form of abuse.

The children who are being paddled today are future citizens in this country. So many of them will have learned that violence is okay, and the strong can inflict pain on the weak. So many of them will come away with damaged inner worlds, believing they are deserving of abuse. These results are unacceptable for all of us.

As a child, I was hit regularly, as were my brother and sister. The emotional scars continue in our lives. I stopped that legacy with my own children.

a picture from the 1950's of a mother spanking her son

Spanking should not happen at home, nor should it happen in schools. To have hitting be an acceptable policy in any school is beyond offensive to me.

I suppose there should be acceptance on my part that individuals and institutions have the right to make their own decisions. Because they involve if and how we protect children, at what point are those decisions acceptable? …Because of the right of a parent or a school to hit children?

At what point should we refuse to legalize abuse?

I encourage anyone reading this blog today to check out the information that follows. I challenge you to dispute it. I encourage you to share it with as many people as you can, to be a voice for all children. It is our job to educate others who may do harmful things simply because they have been told they are acceptable and even positive. Please, be a voice for children!

Invitation to Reflect

  1. What are your initial responses to the Texas headline?
  2. If you believe in corporal punishment, please consider all the data that refutes any benefits, and think about why you might have your beliefs. Sometimes these beliefs are the result of our loyalties to what our parents taught us. Sometimes it is important to question those beliefs.
  3. What can you do to help spread the data about the horrific negative impact of corporal punishment, whether in the home or in the school? Are you willing to speak up on behalf of children, even if it’s just to your family and friends?

Additional Resource for Readers to Investigate

Diane Wagenhals, Director of Lakeside Global Institute


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