Friday, January 8, 2010

A kid named Dennis got spanked in the hallway once

As I stood in our kitchen yesterday evening, assembling awesome sack lunches for my lucky offspring, my nine-year-old daughter burst through the front door, my wife in tow.

"Dad, guess what?" Too urgent, I supposed, for a standard greeting.
"I cried at school today."
"Really? Why?"
"My substitute teacher yelled at me. She said I gave her a 'middle school eye roll'. It was really embarrassing, because it was in front of the whole class. Then, later on, she told our class she was tired of our bullshit."
"She said that?"
"Yep," replied Lauryn, with an air of righteous indignation.
"Did you cry right there in the classroom?"
"Nope. I stuck my head in my locker later on and got teary in there."
"Wow, Laur," I exclaimed. "It really sounds like your sub handled things poorly."
"Dad, come on. Just say it—she sucks in the classroom management department," Lauryn clarified.

Sadly, it appears that, even now, a few teachers continue to employ verbal berating as a primary tool of control. Fortunately, physical intimidation is no longer tolerated as it was back in the 60s and 70s, when I was a young lad in need of a little discipline. Back then, verbal assaults merely served as the side salad to the hot dish that was academic corporal punishment.

My initial encounter with "the rod" occurred during that first year of school—kindergarten, 1968. Remember how teachers would pin notes to your shirt for your parents to remove, much like carrier pigeons were utilized during World War I? My friends and I decided it would be a great idea to remove the pins and run around trying to stick each other with them. This spontaneous act resulted in a swift banishment to the principal, Mr. Terrell. We walked slowly to his office, as if we had just finished our last meal, and it was now time to meet the business end of the dangling noose.

He lectured us sternly, informing us of the risks and dangers of pin warfare, especially to the eyes. Mr. Terrell then arose from behind his desk, walked to his closet and slowly removed it—the instrument of unbridled sadism—the paddle. It was riddled with orderly columns of holes, much like a large cribbage board attached to a handle. I could have sworn it bore some kind of logo, like Black and Decker Whoop-Ass 3000, but I wasn't certain. He informed us that the next time he saw any of us in his office, he'd use it on us, with pleasure.

After this episode of Scared Straight: The Kindergarten Edition, I never gazed upon the inside of Mr. Terrell's office again. I still experienced more minor punishments meted out by my teachers, like neck squeezes or ear lobe gouges, but the Swiss cheese paddle didn't get the opportunity to introduce itself to my pre-teen bottom.

From a teacher's point of view, I can completely understand the frustration in dealing with an unruly class, day in and day out. And back in those days, I'm sure that, after administering a good throttling to a deserving student, it was nice to retreat to the teachers' lounge for a satisfying, non-filtered Camel.

1 comment :

  1. People used to think it was necessary to "spank" adult members of the community, military trainees, and prisoners. In some countries they still do. In our country, it is considered sexual assault if a person over the age of 18 is "spanked", but only if over the age of 18.

    For one thing, buttock-battering can vibrate the pudendal nerve, which can lead to sexual arousal. There are numerous other physiological ways in which it can be sexually abusive, but I won't list them all here. One can use the resources I've posted if they want to learn more.

    Child bottom-battering/slapping vs. DISCIPLINE:

    Child bottom-battering (euphemistically labeled "spanking","swatting","switching","smacking", "paddling",or other cute-sounding names) for the purpose of gaining compliance is nothing more than an inherited bad habit.

    Its a good idea for people to take a look at what they are doing, and learn how to DISCIPLINE instead of hit.

    I think the reason why television shows like "Supernanny" and "Dr. Phil" are so popular is because that is precisely what many (not all) people are trying to do.

    There are several reasons why child bottom-slapping isn't a good idea. Here are some good, quick reads recommended by professionals:

    Plain Talk About Spanking
    by Jordan Riak,

    The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
    by Tom Johnson,

    by Lesli Taylor M.D. and Adah Maurer Ph.D.

    Most compelling of all reasons to abandon this worst of all bad habits is the fact that buttock-battering can be unintentional sexual abuse for some children. There is an abundance of educational resources, testimony, documentation, etc available on the subject that can easily be found by doing a little research with the recommended reads-visit

    Just a handful of those helping to raise awareness of why child bottom-slapping isn't a good idea:

    American Academy of Pediatrics,
    American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
    American Psychological Association,
    Center For Effective Discipline,
    Churches' Network For Non-Violence,
    Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
    Parenting In Jesus' Footsteps,
    Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children,
    United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    In 26 countries, child corporal punishment is prohibited by law (with more in process). In fact, the US was the only UN member that did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.