Defensive discipline


Corporal punishment once was an inescapable fact of life in childhood, at home and at school. Children who got a “whupping” because they misbehaved in class could anticipate a worse one later, at parental hands.

It’s legal for American parents to spank their offspring, but 32 countries around the world ban the practice, according to the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children. Most states in the U.S. forbid corporal punishment in schools. Kentucky isn’t one of them, but subtle changes are afoot here, too.

Public education is taking on ever more of the responsibilities formerly reserved for parents, and yet most teachers and school administrators probably prefer not lay a hand on children for fear of a public relations backlash, or worse. School discipline is less likely to get physical than in years past, and that isn’t altogether bad. It’s tempting to romanticize the days of yore when parents believed that sparing the rod spoiled the child. Some who grew up in that era are convinced that strict punishment made them better adults. But there were times in the “good old days” when punishment degenerated into flagrant child abuse. Those old-time disciplinarians could wind up in serious trouble nowadays, and some should have in their own time. Let’s not sugar-coat Dickensian cruelty to children.

That said, unruly juveniles do pose problems in public education. “Restraint and seclusion” is a defensive tactic designed to protect troubled kids as well as their classmates and teachers. The Kentucky Department of Education held a public hearing this week on a proposed regulation that sets guidelines on how it should and should not be practiced. Attorney Lucy Heskins of the Protection and Advocacy agency, representing disabled Kentuckians, said there are too many instances in which restrained or confined young people have suffered injuries and/or psychological trauma.

“We have found that in many cases, restraint and seclusion are not isolated incidents for these children but that they are often restrained multiple times a day,” she said.

That’s unacceptable. Equally unacceptable is an instructional regime in which chaos and violence prevail. Franklin County Schools Superintendent Chrissy Jones worries about the welfare of all students – including those creating disturbances – and of the adults who supervise them. Rich Crowe, Frankfort Independent superintendent, said his schools rarely resort to restraint but he cautions against tying educators’ hands when they do.

Today’s teachers have a tough enough job trying to motivate learners who may lack the advantages of parental guidance. They’re also asked to enforce a modicum of decorum in their classrooms and hallways.

Last year, state Rep. Dewayne Bunch, in his day job as a math and science teacher at Whitley County High School, stepped in to break up a fight between two teenage boys in the cafeteria. A punch sent him to the tile floor, inflicting a serious head injury. He was 50 when he died in rehabilitation a year later.

Teachers in a perfect world would concentrate on the ample challenges of stimulating young minds to learn and grow. If intervention of a more physical nature becomes necessary, common sense should be the guiding principle, and the safety of everyone involved should be the paramount concern.

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  • "In the real world, you misbehave, you go to prison." lol. That's only true if you're poor and/or unlucky.

  • When kids make their decisions out of fear of bodily injury, it isn't a TRUE moral decision...sort of like people not doing something out of fear of going to ****. There are other ways -better ways- to correct your child's behavior. Violence begets violence. A spanked 11 year old once laughed afterwards, went into the other room, came back in and shot his father dead. Just like domestic violence, it's not something children need to be exposed to or be raised to believe is normal. .............................................................................................................. For schools, I would reform the alternative school program. In my day, kids who misbehaved were sent to Wilkinson St. Some that went there bragged that it was easy and they made macaroni pictures all day. That is what needs to change. Schools like this should be more like correctional institutions with books. They should have grey walls, heavy metal doors, metal detectors at the entrance. It should be more like a prison than a 'school away from school'. We are trying to teach young adults how to live in the real world. In the real world, you misbehave, you go to prison.

  • Don't waste time worrying about paddling children. Let the police handle it. Let the School Resource Officers handle it. Let the cops take your child away in handcuffs after beating another student or teacher. Sure don't want to paddle Johnnie Hoodlum while he disrupts every class he s in, bullies all the meek children and gets away with it. Because we cannot expel these terrible little kids, we now expend hundreds of thousands of dollars putting the hoodlum boys and girls in a "school" in another part of town. We lower the credits they must earn to "graduate". Then push them out to society. Then law enforcement can continue dealing with them but they'll end up in real jail this time. It's time for parents to be parents, make your kid mind, take away their toys and smack the crap out of them every now and then. It's better you do it and not Society. And yes I was bullied!

  • All I know is, when I was a kid, my mother gave permission for the principal to spank me if it was warranted, and I was so terrified of the humiliation of being spanked that I was very careful not to do anything that might warrant a spanking....and also, I never, ever talked back to a teacher or was disrespectful in any way. It just wasn't done back then.

  • The idea that because some morons have placed autistic students in bags or locked closets sickens me and seems sadistic... But the knee-jerk proposals will have a negative impact on our schools... As bad as public schools are...they will get worse...

  • Make no mistake... These changes are not "subtle".... The question to ask.... If a child is destroying a computer lab... Walking from computer to computer and throwing them into the floor... Should an administrator/Teacher be allowed to stop the child? Under these new regs, the child is allowed to go from room to room and destroy public property leaving administrators just idly watching in case he/she might hurt themselves... But wait... Cash-strapped schools can always recoup the damages from unemployed parents... the $75000 computer lab can quickly be paid for by the parents at a court-ordered $20 per month... I am not big on restraint... Hate restraint... But students can throw fits for hours under the right circumstances... Leaving $1000s in damage...

  • KidsRpeople2, I kinda feel like I know where you are coming from but I am of the opinion that a good paddeling will teach a child to be respectful & abide by the rules established by the adults. I am also of the opinion that suspension is an award to some students who act out because they hate being in school. What everybody needs to keep in mind is OTHER PEOPLES KIDS are at the schools doing what is expected of them & trying to learn and do not deserve to put up with students who do not care. My ex-wife is a teacher & it blows my mind how much some students gets by with & knows that they can keep it up because they are no real punishment anymore. My guess is that most people over 40 years old grew up with corporal punishment & knows both sides of the issues & will agree that if done appropriatly, then it is acceptable. I will also venture to guess that a lot of parents today have no clue what goes on in a classroom now a days. Just what is acceptable to do to a child who continues daily with backtalking, cussing, hitting ect. Most people & kids will fear PAIN & that alone is a deterent to most. I'm all for it if done right & against outright abuse & I do think that it can be done right by most educators. This is just my opinion & It's based on how I was raised.

  • I'm mixed on this. While attending Collins Lane, I was deservedly paddled several times. Despite (or because of?) that 'abuse' I grew up into a reasonably well-adjusted adult. Why is it a 'crime' now?

  • Sadly, children have been severely injured and even died at the hands of those paid tax dollars to be entrusted with their safety, care and education. Search "A Violent Education" 2008 Report by Human Rights Watch and ACLU and "School Is Not Supposed to Hurt" by National Disability Rights Network. We can and must do a better job of protecting our children! Cost to Abolish School Corporal Punishment $0

  • Corporal Punishment is Illegal in Schools in the majority of the U.S., 31 States and most "School Paddling States" capitol cities such as Austin, TX and Nashville, TN who operate everyday without resorting to violence and the deliberate infliction of physical pain by school teachers, coaches and administrators hitting students K-12 with wooden paddles as punishment for minor infractions. Corporal Punishment is Prohibited by Federal Law for use against convicted Felons, murderers and child molesters in all U.S. Prisons, yet Federal Lawmakers continually Fail to enact school child protection/safety/equality laws such as H.R. 3027 "The Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act" due to Expire in December 2012, earlier version DIED in U.S. Education Committee December 2010 after Hearing held by Congressional Subcommittee on Healthy Communities and Families 4/15/2010! Recently, Kentucky Youth Advocates called for a ban on school corporal punishment in 45 school districts. Hitting any person or animal with a wooden board in public is assault and only teaches violence, fear, pain, injury and resentment. See shocking brutally violent injuries to students from school corporal punishment/paddling at YouTube Video Trailer for Documentary Movie "The Board of Education" by Jared Abrams.

  • Ahhhhh, those were the good ole days when a neighbor would be expected the TAN THE HIDE & let the childs parent know so that another round of stinging nerves tenderized the rump to a sore peice of flesh. It was truley a team effort back then & the meaning of IT TAKES A VILLIAGE TO RAISE A CHILD actually meant what it says. I agree that it was overdone in a lot of cases but it did make respectable & responsible adults. The same parents who took god out of schools & sued over junior getting his rump stung, look at how it is now. Teachers are being called B!#*% daily now by some students who are basically UN-EXPELLABLY. What parent would allow their child to call his/hers teacher a B!*#% ? A parent that doesn't care, thats who!