Paddles are back-to-school fads.


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SStudents returning to class in the City of the Ozarks this fall
Missouri, may be on better behavior than usual. This is because the local board of education has reinstated corporal punishment, otherwise known as paddling, as a punishment for bad behavior.

The whipping
Not like the old class rules and order. Parents and guardians must provide a signed agreement to allow their children to swing “when other methods of discipline fail,” including detention and suspension. And they can opt out at any time regardless of whether their child does a physical exam.

Cassville keeps other children out of sight and includes a second adult worker as a witness. Hitting the face or head is not allowed and there is no mention of video recording. Individual principals have discretion as to when and to whom the penalty option should be applied. The board’s policy guidelines state that “an employee may use reasonable physical force against a student for the protection of the student or others or to protect property. It is not a violation of this policy to exclude or restrain students in accordance with district policy.

The directive has sparked outrage on social media, with protests from some teachers. However, the superintendent of Cassville’s 1,900-student district said the decision not to lose the baton was made in response to concerns expressed by parents, staff and students that misconduct at the school has gotten out of hand.

Missouri is one of 19 (mostly southern) states that allow corporal punishment of students, backed by a 1977 Supreme Court ruling.

Ingraham v. Wright.
) holds that school beatings do not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment as long as they are not “unreasonable” or “excessive.” Recently
Federal data
Currently, about 4,000 schools nationwide use some form of corporal punishment.

In the year I can vividly remember and feel my own paddle in 1962 by the principal of my grade school, Miss Macdonald. Following a heavy snowstorm, students were ordered off the ball field, possibly missing some kindergartners on the float. Two second graders and I were left out protesting the ban – how could we not! We lined up at the front of our room and were ordered to bend down, which swept the sneakers that landed in front of us. I still bun-haired Mrs. M. Breathe deeply and nose up the wind before falling twice on my back with her board, she held it as tightly as a Federer forehand. Her paddle had a leather strap, a sign of how often it had been used.

Some popular medical and behavioral groups including
American Psychological Association
, have been against school beatings for a long time, in addition to creating risks of physical injury, such punishments are disproportionately applied to young children. There is also the concern that hitting children, even in controlled situations, can incite more defiance and aggression, which is why many experts advocate positive reinforcement to improve unruly students.

But as long as it’s deployed judiciously and restrained, the mere threat of gender rowing can test students who don’t respond to other types of orientation. If anything, I think Cassville is making a mistake by removing the penalty from the classroom. While I have never regretted or felt guilty about trespassing on the icy field that I might face cheating or name-calling, I have suffered the great humiliation of being whipped in front of my friends and classmates, which is more damaging than the paddling. By following the actors through any shocking situation, Casville loses the powerful effect that peer shaming has on society as a real deterrent to future offenses or at least breaking the law.

I may have earned some bravery points with my friends a long time ago. And so I continued to stir up my mischievous room, sometimes to the point of decorating the school. But the all-round paddling scene was more than enough to scare me into red-faced red-faced embarrassment. Hopefully, some Cassville duffys will keep them from doing the same, even if they secretly take their licks.

Alan Ripp runs a press relations firm in New York.


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