A school district in Missouri has announced it will be allowing the use of a paddle as corporal punishment in schools, so long as they have parental consent. The district covers around 1,900 students and stopped using spanking in 2001, but now has reversed the decision as a means to violently keep students in line.
According to Cassville School District superintendent Merlyn Johnson, the district had been receiving letters from frustrated parents over teachers' inability to hit their children.
"Parents have said 'why can't you paddle my student?' and we're like 'We can't paddle your student, our policy does not support that,'" he said, in a statement to Springfield News Leader.
"There had been conversation[s] with parents and there had been requests from parents for us to look into it."
Each parent will now be sent a consent form to agree or disagree with their child being paddled by their school principal.
Unfortunately for the district (but mostly for the children), the recent science on spanking is resoundingly clear – it is not an effective punishment, and it induces a significant trauma response in the brain akin to even heavier physical assault. Children’s brains appear to respond to spanking in the same way they would to abuse, sparking their threat response and directly affecting their decision-making.
Furthermore, a separate study linked spanking as a child to violent relationships as an adult, and another of 160,000 children strongly linked it to physical abuse. Effective research into spanking and adult outcomes is difficult, owing to the complex nature of humans, but so far all the data suggests it is a poor decision.
Surprisingly, however, corporal punishment is actually legal in many states. Each state is allowed by federal law to decide whether it can be used, and 19 states currently permit it. As a self-identified “traditional community”, Cassville School District believes their decision is correct and in keeping with their values – it is now up to the parents to decide if they agree.