Friday, January 15, 2016

Paddling students harshly remembered at MHS

Illustration by Visual Editor Madison Krell
Every 30 seconds, a child is hit in a public school somewhere in the United States.
While corporal punishment may not seem like a common practice, a federal data analysis reported this statistic. Corporal punishment is a discipline method in which a supervising adult deliberately inflicts pain upon a child in response to a child’s unacceptable behavior. This can take place in different forms, such as spanking, caning, or paddling. Ohio banned corporal punishment in 2009, but it’s currently legal in 19 states, although not every school implements it.
Senior Aminah Baig attended a school that enforced corporal punishment when she lived in Thailand. Baig said that Thai culture had a huge emphasis on teaching discipline to kids.
“In Thailand, a big philosophy is respect and discipline,” Baig said. “So if kids did things like not doing their homework or disrespecting a teacher, they would use thick wooden erasers to hit us.  You would have to put out your palm and you would get a smack.”
Although the punishment didn’t cause severe bodily harm, Baig said that it instilled a fearful relationship between the student and teacher.
“I definitely don’t think it was an effective way to punish kids, especially the younger ones,” Baig said. “I felt like it really scared a lot of my classmates from even wanting to speak to the teacher.  It made it very uncomfortable and I would think, ‘Well, I don’t want to ask her for help if I don’t understand something because she is just going to get mad and hit me.’”
Baig said that having an open and friendly relationship with teachers is critical for success in school.
“I feel comfortable speaking to teachers at Mason,” Baig said. “As you get older, you want to be more open with your teachers.  You want to be able to talk to them and share things that are happening in your life.”
According to The Washington Post, corporal punishment is most prevalent in Texas and least prevalent in Wyoming. Out of the 19 states that still allow it, two border Ohio: Kentucky and Indiana.
American History teacher Joe Hammond said he grew up in a time when paddling, caning, and hitting were prevalent practices at home and in school.
“I received my first swat as a second grader and that was around 1963,” Hammond said. “In seventh grade I took a fist to the mouth from the principal. I also took another direct shot in the back of the head with a giant book by the same principal in eighth grade.”
Hammond said he feels that physical discipline can be an effective method of communication to a child, as long as it’s not used excessively.
“In my day I would get a swat from my parents, but it was never meant to hurt or injure,” Hammond said. “It was just meant as a way of saying that you were out of line. When I think back, I found it pretty effective. I think it’s a form of communication as opposed to a form of violence. If it’s used as a form of violence then I think it’s wrong.”
According to the The American Psychological Association, the use of corporal punishment to discipline children may create an impression in a child that they are “undesirable”, lowering their self-esteem. The APA opposes the use of corporal punishment to discipline children.
Advanced Placement Psychology teacher Angie Johnston said physical punishment can have adverse long term effects.
“From what research studies have shown, if you use spanking as punishment, it might work initially,” Johnston said. “It might stop the behavior for a short period of time and maybe even up to a year. But it just represses the behavior and the behavior can come back. It can even make the child more aggressive later on in life.”
Johnston said that corporal punishment can mess with the parent and child or teacher and child dynamic.
“If the child is fearing the spanking, the child might fear the parent or whoever it is delivering the spank,” Johnston said. “Research shows that this can really mess up a relationship with a child and the parent.”
From her experience as a psychology teacher and mother, Johnston said she finds positive reinforcement to be the most effective in shaping behavior.
“I am more on the positive kind of  reinforcement and trying to be positive with the child,” Johnston said. “Just from the research I have seen with teaching this class and even with my own children that is definitely how I am. But I don’t look at the other side and say, ‘Oh, you’re a terrible parent’ because everyone has their own way of handling things.”
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