Paddling still used as punishment in schools

April 16, 2010 3:11:47 PM PDT
One year after bringing back the paddle at a central Texas school, the Temple school district says the policy is working. Parents in Temple demanded the change last year. Now, the district says behavior at schools has improved dramatically. You might think paddling doesn't happen around here anymore, but it does. Spanking and paddling is a polarizing issue and it's a policy that was revived in Alvin ISD in 2008.

It's a throwback technique used to set kids straight. Alvin ISD policy states "corporal punishment may be used as a discipline management technique limited to spanking and paddling."

Parents must sign off on the policy at the beginning of each school year. On a form, they can check either yes or no. Manvel High School Principal Darrell Alexander said, "We send home that policy, and some parents do check yes, but we don't use it here."

The school district refused to let us speak with a principal who uses the policy. But Alexander says some parents request students be paddled if necessary.

"Maybe five to ten times a year, a parent may request or want us to do it," Alexander explained. "I think that's because they revert back to when they were in school, when it was more common."

Gary Wiltz is one of those parents.

He said, "I think corporal punishment is probably what we need to go back to because it worked for us."

According to Alvin ISD, with parental permission, an unruly student may be taken to an administrator's office and, in private, receive three swats to the bottom. A second administrator is on hand as a witness.

Jimmy Dunne, with People Opposed to Paddling Students, said, "I call it legalized child abuse, which I think it is. We're leaving bruises on kids' buttocks."

Dunne heads POPS. His group is calling for Texas to abolish its corporal punishment policies in schools. He equates paddling to abuse and blames lazy educators for defaulting to the paddle to discipline children.

"It's wrong to hit a child with a board," Dunne said. "If it happened any other place but the school, these people would be arrested for criminal assault of a child."

Most of these techniques are used in high schools rather than elementary schools. Alvin's policy will be reviewed by end of school year. At that point, it'll be up to school board to decide if they choose to keep the policy.

Most school districts banned paddling in schools a long time ago. We checked with several districts in our area and found Houston, Fort Bend and Cy-Fair do not paddle students.

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