Georgia School Brings Back Paddling - And A Third Of Parents Consent To It

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Paddling is being introduced into a Georgia school even though evidence proves corporal punishment is harmful and racist

An east Georgia public charter school is planning on bringing back paddling as a form of disciplining students–and a third of the parents have signed a permission form consenting to the action.

“In this school, we take discipline very seriously,” said Jody Boulineau, Superintendent of the Hephzibah, Georgia, school system. “There was a time where corporal punishment was kind of the norm in school and you didn’t have the problems that you have.”

So far, the school reports that about 100 forms have been returned to the school by parents, and about 30 of them are allowing paddling.

“I’ve heard, “Great, it’s about time, we’re so glad that this is happening again, they should’ve never taken it out of schools,’ all the way to ‘Oh, my goodness, I can’t believe you are doing that’,” Boulineau said.

The school said that children will only be paddled after a third offense and that no more than three paddle strikes will take place. Children whose parents do not consent to the paddling policy may face up to five days of suspension from school in lieu of corporal punishment.

Writer and journalist Nicole Cliffe was quick to point out on Twitter that even though corporal punishment is still legal in 19 states, it is racist and ineffective – it doesn’t help test scores or discipline issues at all.

The information that Cliffe shared has been confirmed in studies.

A 1992 study and a 2002 study both found that there was significant race and gender bias when it comes to paddling and other forms of corporal punishment in schools.

A report that was published this spring in Tennessee found that corporal punishment is disproportionally used on students with disabilities, and that in the 2012-2013 school year, 2,000 students with disabilities were physically punished at school.

People responded to Cliffe’s thread by sharing their own stories about corporal punishment–and these statements reinforce the idea that corporal punishment and paddling is harmful.

Several studies have found that harsh physical punishments don’t improve test scores or academic performance, while states that ban such punishments have kids with higher test scores. Also: students who were physically punished in school report higher rates of future anger, fear, and depression. This study also found that even students who are not paddled are emotionally affected by their environment.

It’s not “controversial punishment.” It’s abuse.