Teachers Who Beat Kids Should Be Put Away!

Please join me on my mission to eradicate legalised corporal punishment from our classrooms.  In Australia a teacher is not allowed to hit, beat or physically handle a student.  It is against the law, and so it should be.  The fact that some other countries don’t practice the same policy mistifies me.  A teacher should never be given the permission to physically discipline their students.  Such an allowance gives bad teachers the right to lash out at any student that gives them a hard time.  That is hardly what you would call “quality education.”

Stories like this one sicken me:

Picture this. It’s 10am in a classroom at a primary school and a teacher is handing out science test marks to the pupils. Among the children sits a 13-year-old boy who is an excellent student and an athlete, generally a boy who could be classified “a good child”.

But he has failed this particular test. The teacher tells him to stay behind after class.

His heart lurches and he gets a knot in his stomach because he knows what that means. He’s going to get a beating. Before spanking him, the teacher tells the pupil, “My daddy beat me and I beat my children, so I’m going to beat you.”

The boy walks away with not only a bruised bottom, but a bruised ego and tears in his eyes.

This scene is not from a school in some small village in “backward Africa”. Nope, this happened in a school in Alabama.

According to the US Department of Education, more than 200,000 school kids encounter corporal punishment every year across the US. And those are just the ones the department knows about. Some cases go unreported. Testimony at congressional hearings has revealed that up to 20,000 kids a year request medical treatment, mostly for bruising and broken blood vessels after being physically punished in school.

That is an awful statistic.  How can this be allowed anywhere, let alone in the United States?  How can teacher’s get away with bruising their students?  For every medical practitioner that is called on to treat a victim of corporal punishment, a policeman should be called on to put the offending teacher away!

But based on the current state of play, that scenario is a long way off for some states:

Corporal punishment in schools by teachers with a paddle (a wooden board), belt or strap is legal in 20 states. While 28 states have outlawed it outright, the US Supreme Court has ruled it legal.

The majority of the states that still allow teachers to spank kids are in the mid-west and in the south of the country. States such as Missouri, Kentucky, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and, to my surprise, Florida, are said to use corporal punishment more frequently than others.

The mother of the Alabama boy is suing the superintendent of schools and the teacher for her son’s spanking. She’s angry because, by law, you can’t hit a dog and you can’t hit a prisoner, but you are allowed to spank children.

There are guidelines for how teachers can spank kids, which is more than I can say for when I started school in the ’80s, but there are bound to be some teachers who will do whatever they like.

Of course there are teachers that exploit this situation.  Whilst I would like to believe that all teachers care about their students there are enough out there that grow resentful and irrational over the years.  These teachers can not be trusted to make decisions in the best interests of their students.

And to those that think that fear of such a punishment brings out the best in students, I say this.  Fear doesn’t bring out the best in anyone!  If a teacher can’t control their class, they can approach an expert for advice or quit.  If they feel they have to burst their students’ blood vessels to gain law and order, they ought to feel completely and utterly ashamed of themselves.

It’s 2011!  Time to wear our belts, consign paddles to PE lessons and throw away the straps in the bin!

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9 Responses to “Teachers Who Beat Kids Should Be Put Away!”

  1. madmothermusings Says:

    I would agree with you that it is not the teacher’s job to discipline children in such a way. I think that is wrong, and I don’t understand how it is legal either. However, I would add, that as a teacher in a local preschool, that sometimes teacher’s frustration with students who do not cooperate (I speak of young children, still in Early Childhood) is exasperated by the fact that parents do not cooperate either.

    Most days, as a teacher, I teeter between trying harder to fill the cracks the parents don’t, and between throwing my hands up in frustration, because I don’t think thats my job. I think that if parents and teachers were able to communicate more, and work as a team, this would not be a debate at all, or would not have to be, at least.

    I think teachers should feel free to be completely honest with parents about johnny’s behavior, and that parents should be able to evaluate the teacher’s opinion honestly. Parents should also communicate with teachers about Johnny’s behavior at home.

    I am exhausted when I come out of conference with a parent who does not want to take responsibility for their child’s actions, and their job of addressing them to their child. I understand that it is a difficult subject, and very complicated, but it must be discussed!

    The simple matter is, teachers and parents are at odds. neither trusts the other, and as a teacher, I am frustrated by that, and as a parent, I am terrified of what a teacher will do/say/teach my child as a result of that faulty attitude.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post.

    • Michael G. Says:

      Thanks madmothermusings for your wonderful comment. It is a sad fact that teachers and parents seem to be more at odds than ever before. I will be writing some posts on this very topic in the next few days.

  2. Margaret Reyes Dempsey Says:

    You’re teaching me things I didn’t know about my own country. I think it’s very strange that child protective services will show up at a home if a parent hits a kid, but a teacher is allowed to inflict corporal punishment. Bizarro!!!!

    I totally agree. Corporal punishment has no place in a school, or in a home. When an adult resorts to beating a defenseless child half their size, it is a flashing neon sign that they have lost all control.

    • Michael G. Says:

      Good point Margaret. A society that allows a teacher to dicipline with enough force that would cause a parent to face child protection services needs a good hard look at themselves.

  3. J Roycroft Says:

    Here in my state of Georgia, corporal punishment in government schools is legal. I find it very upsetting that here, it is perfectly legal for the government to hit my child but I can be arrested for spanking my child.
    My children will not be going to government schools here. They will be enrolled in a private school of my choice. I am firmly against corporal punishment in our school systems.

  4. concerned Says:

    It’s legal in the state of Georgia too. Most people also do not realize that immunity – civil and criminal – is contributing to the lack of accountability on this issue. A parent cannot protect their children if a state has shield laws. All an educator has to claim is it was discipline. Sad, isn’t it. These laws are giving bad educators, incompetent educators a license to go rogue. I am certainly glad to see a blog like this where a person is speaking out against it. Thank you!

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