By Laura Fogerty
By now you’ve probably seen the video, witnessed the social media uproar, and formed opinions about the five-year-old boy paddled at the hands of his school principal and her assistant. According to Fox News in Jasper, Georgia here’s the story in a nutshell:
“Shana Perez told WSB-TV that she took video of her son struggling and screaming as administrators tried to paddle him at school Wednesday morning. ‘I know it was horrible at the time. When I went back and actually watched the video, I was in tears,” Perez said. “He was crying. Holding his hands over his butt, trying to get away. Wanting his mommy.’
Perez said she allowed the principal to paddle her son because she felt like she didn’t have any other choice. She claims if she had not allowed the paddling, her son would have been suspended, and she could have faced jail time for truancy. Perez told WSB-TV that she has already been arrested once this year after her 5-year-old son missed 18 days of school. Perez said her son’s principal led her to believe she would go to jail again if she didn’t agree to the paddle.”
So many things horribly, terribly wrong here, and I’m pretty sure, we’ve all made some judgments about the situation, fair or otherwise, but I’d like to focus on the part of that particular sickening video that bothered me the most. (Well, maybe not the most, but pretty close to the top of the list of disturbing elements.) Two quotes from either the assistant or the principal bring to light a piece of the problems created when we use violence as discipline. One, “I’m gonna hit your hands, baby. I don’t wanna hit your hands.” Baby? Really? Calling this tiny child “baby” doesn’t make it any better. In fact, it makes it so much worse, teaching this boy that violence and love are inextricably connected. It teaches him that the bigger, stronger person gets her way. It teaches that the people who love you are allowed to hit you. It teaches that sometimes, the people you trust will hurt you. And two, “Mama can’t help. Mama might have to leave the room.” The fear this little boy was feeling was visibly obvious and to escalate the fear and I’m guessing they are hoping, creating compliance, they push that fear level as high as possible. Cruelty like this doesn’t belong in our schools. It doesn’t belong in the lives and the minds of our children. We create only harm when we use these tactics against the smallest, most vulnerable members of society.
Spanking. Paddling. Popping. Smacking. Hitting. It doesn’t work. It can’t work – it’s not designed to teach anything, only to punish. Researchers have found that children who are spanked show higher rates of aggression and delinquency in childhood than those who were not spanked. As adults, they are more prone to depression, feelings of alienation, use of violence toward a spouse, and lower economic and professional achievement. By spanking our children, we put them at higher risk for a host of psychological, physical and societal issues. Ninety percent of American parents spank, and as a nation we have the highest incidence of incarceration per capita in the world. Norway, on the other hand, abolished spanking in 1987 and has the lowest crime rate on the planet.
What can we do? Stop the violence. Sign the petition to end corporal punishment. It’s that simple.