It all started with a prank: When a substitute teacher stepped in to teach a middle school in Ector County, Texas, someone put glue on the teacher's chair. When the teacher couldn't suss out the culprit, the entire class was punished, and they were given a choice: paddling or a few days of in-school suspension.
One anonymous mother told local news outlet News West 9 that her 12-year-old chose the paddling, but she was never notified before or after the corporal punishment was meted out, and the paddling went too far, leaving her son with serious bruising.
The twist? She's pro-spanking as a discipline method. Just not, apparently, pro-other people doing it.
There's so much wrong in this situation that it's tough to even know where to begin. We could start with the obvious. Spanking has been talked to death and debated for years, but we do know — because multiple medical and scientific communities keep telling us — that spanking is massively counterproductive, potentially seriously harmful and not recommended as a form of discipline. Basically? It's not OK to hit another adult or even a dog, so institutions like the American Academy of Pediatrics maintain that it's even less OK to hit a kid.
But put that aside for a second. Even if you are a steadfast paddler, isn't 12 way too old to be meting out that kind of punishment? Most parents of tweens would probably agree that they wouldn't want their kids baring their bottoms to anyone at that age.
Then there's the fact that this punishment was offered as a choice to all the kids because one of them played a prank on a teacher. As far as discipline methods that don't involve hitting a person with a chunk of wood go, punishing all for the misdeeds of one seems pretty jacked up and ineffective.
The fact is, because of people who cling to the misguided idea that spanking is vital to "raising them right," 19 states still have laws on the books that allow teachers and administrators to spank or paddle, especially in the South and Midwest. A lot of urban centers in those states have opted out of this permission, but it's clear that some school districts take full advantage.
And when you are the type of parent who is adamantly pro-physical discipline, you are a part of the cultural atmosphere that allows states and schools to point and say, "See? Even the parents think we should do it!"
So if you've been known to regularly talk about how the problem with kids these days is that we just don't beat them enough, then you have to admit that it's a little hypocritical to become distraught when someone puts their hands on your kids in a way you have already endorsed.
Otherwise, all you're essentially saying is, "No one is allowed to hit my kids but me. When I do it, it's right, but when you do it, it's abuse."
Does that really sound reasonable to you?
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