Saturday, June 17, 2006

Corporal Punishment

My feelings haven't really changed about corporal punishment-- I am still against it and I think there are better ways of dealing with behavioral problems. The real difference in me is that I have witnessed it, and had to accept that it is used in the school I teach in. And that in some cases corporal punishment seems effective. As far as classroom management goes, if you send a child to the office- they will be paddled. And at first I could not even accept that fact. Major mistake. Students thought that I was weak and they exploited that weakness. In my school, many teachers used different methods of corporal punishment as well. This was unexpected and I didn't even realize it until late in the school year-- I was so concerned with my own classroom that I never noticed. Lots of teachers used threats, humiliation, and physical force to keep students "in line." And I thought raising my voice was mean. The truth is students are accustomed to it. When they see a teacher that does not use physical intimidation-- they think you are in a sense 'weak.' Considering how rampant it was in the classrooms I taught in this was the case.

Parents of students would regularly tell me that I was free to hit their children. Calling home even became an issue for me-- yikes I sometimes even heard the screams. Or the next day the student would approach me and try to blame me for their sore butts. At the end of year, I remember joking with other teachers about corporal punishment. I had accepted it usage.

My assistant principal gave almost of all of the “official” paddlings. At first he seemed like such a monster to me, until one day when he stuck-up for a child that had been beaten by his father at school. Ruth and I watched as he chased his son (that he never saw) around school buildings. The student had just lost his mother and was living with relatives. Can you imagine? No teacher had ever even called saying there was a problem—he just showed up to school one day. But my principal put his foot down and talked to the father man-to-man. And the student went and spoke to the counselor. It should have been reported to child services, but did eventually student feel safe with the principal. To many parents a good beating is love, but there is a line and it was nice (somewhat) to know that at least my principal knew the difference.

Overall, I feel like corporal punishment is ineffective, especially with students whose misbehavior stems for post traumatic stress disorder (not all that rare). But for other students whose parents use it in love—it keeps them from acting up. I think in another five years it won’t exist—even in Delta schools. I am just waiting for a parent to finally sue the school for it and have it be outlawed.

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