As long as there is parental permission, a Missouri school district has said it will permit the use of a paddle as corporal punishment in classrooms. The district, which serves about 1,900 children, stopped employing spanking in 2001 but has now decided to resume it as a means of physically controlling the behavior of the students.
Superintendent of the Cassville School Administration Merlyn Johnson stated that the district had been receiving messages from angry parents who were upset that teachers couldn’t smack their kids.
In a statement to the Springfield News-Leader, he said, “Parents have asked why you can’t paddle my youngster? and we’ve responded, “We can’t paddle your student, our policy does not support it.”
“Parents had asked us to look into it after having conversations with us and making suggestions,”
A consent form to approve or disapprove of the school administrator paddling their child will now be distributed to each parent.
Unfortunately, the latest research on spanking is resoundingly clear that it is not an effective punishment and that it triggers a large trauma reaction in the brain similar to even more severe physical assault. This is bad news for the district (but especially for the kids). The threat reaction and subsequent decision-making are both directly impacted by spanking, and it appears that children’s brains react to it in a similar fashion to how they would abuse.
Additionally, a study of 160,000 kids found a substantial correlation between spanking and physical abuse, and another study related spanking as a child to violent relationships as an adult. Due to the complexity of humans, conducting a thorough study on spanking and adult consequences is challenging, but the evidence so far strongly suggests that it is a bad idea.
Surprisingly, though, many states actually permit the use of corporal punishment. Federal law permits each state to determine whether it may be used, and 19 states now authorize it. Cassville School District, a self-described “traditional community,” believes their choice is appropriate and consistent with their values; it is now up to the parents to decide whether they concur.