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September 25, 2012 8:06 am

CULTURE SHOCK: Hitting children — still not OK!

Written by Dante Geoffrey

How is this an issue in 2012 America?

I read a news story this weekend that made me sick, which is no easy feat in the 24-hour murder/rape/war news cycle we live in.

The headline read: Taylor Santos, Texas High School Student, Left ‘Burned And Blistered’ After Male Vice Principal Spanked Her.

Woops, did I accidentally go to The Onion’s website? Was I in some 1891 news archive database?

Or was I just hit by the reality that there are places in this country where violence still is an accepted form of discipline?

The female sophomore at Springtown High School was being punished for cheating. She did not cheat, but another student copied her test (and without her knowledge, Santos said.)

Instead of taking two days of detention, Santos was given the option to be spanked. Santos accepted the offer, which was soon approved by her mother. (Texas law requires parent permission; how progressive!).

The vice principal of the school, an adult male, administered the spanking while another female faculty member was present in the room.

I guess the VP was trying to ensure Santos really understood that cheating was wrong, because Santos walked away (gingerly, I’d imagine) from that lesson with bruises and welts. Welts, as we all know, are on par with iPads and powerpoint presentations as a teaching tool.

The story caused a bit of a stir, but the outcry doesn’t look to be causing the right type of change.

According to Channel 8 news in Dallas/Fort-Worth, the school district’s superintendent is considering changing the rule that requires corporal punishment to be administered by a faculty member of the same sex. The superintendent wants to allow members of any sex to hit students of any sex. Way to get discrimination out of schools!

Talk about missing the point.

Santos’ mother, who is also very much to blame, said a man shouldn’t have spanked her daughter because men are so much bigger and stronger.

Well, in a way, she’s correct. At the same time, her argument is ludicrous. Men shouldn’t hit anyone — let alone students — because they are bigger and stronger.

Does Santos’ mother think it would be totally OK for a male sophomore to get repeatedly hit with a paddle? Because, you know, a male bottom can totally take the kind of abuse a female bottom is just too weak to handle. Or would it be OK if a female vice principal was the one causing the bruises on her daughter?

The initial rage I went into after reading the story subsided long enough for it to bide its time, fester and then re-emerge threefold.

I had texted my friend, a teacher in California, about the story. Like me, he couldn’t believe it. He joked to me, “Is that legal in Texas?” Upon finding out that it was legal, he responded “Wow, I was kidding. That’s actually legal?”

Don’t be foolish enough to think this is a “Dante’s a liberal from California” thing. This is a “31 states realize that this mentality and type of behavior is grossly inappropriate and barbaric” thing.

New Jersey was the first to ban the spanking of kids in school — in 1867! Since then, 30 states have followed suit. The majority of the hold-outs are in the South. No states in New England or on the West Coast allow the hitting of students. The non-South outliers trickle out West and include Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.

Oof. Come on, Wyoming. What would make anyone think it’s good to be in line with the South’s views on social issues? The South is a region of the country that has consistently been far behind when it comes to adjusting to acceptable social behavior.

If anyone out there wants to give me their argument for hitting students, let me stop you and take the words right out of your mouth.

“Look, I can’t support a ban of spanking in schools. I need to know there’s at least some chance another adult will cause physical harm to my child. I think children are too dumb and I’m way too impatient to teach with anything besides fear!”

Thanks. Point taken.

It’s not that just a few states are lagging behind, it’s America as a whole. Dozens of countries have banned corporal punishment in schools, including Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. Three of the world’s most war-torn nations are more progressive than America when it comes to child discipline. Maybe one of those countries can occupy and reform our school system.

Now, in order to give my opinion more credibility, I will cite a man who is much smarter, funnier and richer than I am. In his “Hilarious” special, comedian Louis C.K. talks about, among other things, hitting children.

“Here’s the crazy part about it. Kids are the only people in the world that you’re allowed to hit. Do you realize that? They’re the most vulnerable, and they’re the most destroyed by being hit, but it’s totally OK to hit them.”

Every study that has ever been done on hitting children claims it is child abuse — with only detrimental effects on the child.

No study has ever reported, “Boy! We were way off on this one! It turns out, every time you hit a child, they become a better person. Swing away!”

Do you know who supports hitting children? Adults who were hit. Abuse begets abuse. The difference between physical abuse at home and school-sanctioned abuse is not great enough to allow corporal punishment to continue.

No matter where it’s occurring or who is administering it, striking children — and expecting a positive outcome — is wrong.

And I can’t believe that there are places in this country where the previous sentence is controversial.

Statistics, news links and studies regarding corporal punishment can be found at www.stophitting.com.


  • Comment Link September 26, 2012 11:34 am posted by Zane Bennett

    Mr Dante Geoffrey,
    I have waded through your many hum drum commentaries in this paper since you have arrived on the scene in Powell.
    During all these you have shown your True colors. I and many others, I am sure have chalked your rather Left Wing opinions to being from I believe California if I remember right. Up until now I have just brushed off your spewing as filler to the news paper that seldom has anything worth reading including your comments.
    But with this piece you have hit a nerve with many of us Conservative folks that I cannot leave alone.
    You cite all those "Study's" you are so In love with are done by people who have absolutely no business recommending anything about children in the first place.
    It is this way of thinking and these people who have caused many of the problems in this nation and the world.
    All you need to do is look back to when children were spanked when they lied, cheated etc. If you are honest with yourself you will find children for the most part respected each other, their parents and others much more. They had a sense of right and wrong and that there was a consequence if they strayed.
    These days with Yours and the Liberal Left's influence our children are not respectful for the most part and have no idea of what is right or wrong and don't care. This is magnified through out their life span and all of a sudden you get what we have today. People blaming everybody else for their actions or inaction's. Sitting on their butts and expecting others to provide for them because they can't of wont cope with the mess THEY have made of their own life.

    Yes Mr. Geoffrey, I blame You and all who are like you for the mess we are in in this country.

  • Comment Link September 28, 2012 1:07 pm posted by Dante

    Mr. Bennett,

    First, thank you for reading and providing feedback. Though you clearly don't agree with this column (or any others), I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.

    Focusing on the topic of the column, here is my response to your points (along with a few questions) in the order in which they were made.

    I believe research is a valuable and necessary part of an advancing society, and yes, I will always be interested in what good scientific studies have to say. If numerous studies claim that spanking children has negative effects on their personality and future behavior, then I believe spanking should cease altogether.

    Also, I'm interested in why you believe these studies are conducted by people who have "absolutely no business recommending anything about children in the first place." Surely there are parents among these researchers, giving them some first-hand experience. Besides that, I do not know what would or would not qualify someone to give parenting advice.

    Another question: What way of my thinking is the reason for so many of the world's problems? I believe there is always more to learn and always room for society to improve. Improving requires change and I believe the gathering of information and knowledge is key in deciding how and what to change.

    You ask me to look back to when children were spanked. Unfortunately I have no simple means of doing this. I do agree with you that many of today's young people (likely a larger percentage than, let's say, 50 years ago) seem to be less respectful of others. But I have no reason to believe it's because they weren't physically punished as children. There are countless ways for parents to fail.

    In my opinion (and please keep in mind, this is an opinion column), great parents can produce and raise great children without ever having to lay a harmful finger on them. It might be harder and it might take more effort and patience, but no one in their right mind becomes a parent because it is easy.

    Lastly, I don't believe any decrease in spanking is to blame for any increase in laziness, finger-pointing or an inability to cope.

    I hope this helps to explain my position. Thank you for making me think more deeply about this subject.

  • Comment Link October 12, 2012 4:39 pm posted by Alan Tupper

    The laziness lays with the person, with the inability or lack of wanting to take the time to communicate. I think teaching is the operative word! Nice to have someone taking an educated approach & sharing the information. If you reach one it's working.

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