Missouri school district brings back paddling as form of punishment

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By Phoebe Egoroff

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A Southwest Missouri school district has recently adopted a policy allowing corporal punishment of students "when all other alternative means of discipline have failed" and "only in reasonable form," per CNN.

The Cassville R-IV school district will allow parents to opt-in to their children receiving the physical punishment which, according to the district's student handbook, will consist of "swatting buttocks with a paddle."

The handbook defines corporal punishment as: "The use of physical force as a method of correcting student behavior. Corporal punishment, as a measure of correction or of maintaining discipline and order in schools, is permitted.

"However, it shall be used only when all other alternative means of discipline have failed, and then only in reasonable form and upon the recommendation of the principal. Corporal punishment shall be administered only by swatting buttocks with a paddle," the handbook continues.

Despite offering the definition, the handbook offers no clarification as to what would be considered "reasonable".

As reported by KYTV, the policy came about after a survey was sent to staff, parents, and students in the school district in May.

The district's superintendent, Dr. Merlyn Johnson, spoke to the media outlet about the decision: "One of the suggestions that came out was concerns about student discipline. So we reacted by implementing several different strategies, corporal punishment being one of them."

Johnson then stated that this new policy will give school principals a further disciplinary option, before having to resort to more serious punishments like suspension or expulsion.

"It's something we don't anticipate using frequently," the superintendent said. "This is an opt-in only option for parents, so anyone who disagrees with corporal punishment, they simply do nothing by not opting in."

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Cassville district schools have implemented an opt-in policy allowing schools to inflict physical punishment on students. Credit: WoodysPhotos / Alamy

Cassville, where the policy has been implemented, is a small town of around 4,000 people - and according to the town's superintendent, a "very traditional community in Southwest Missouri."

Given this, superintendent Johnson told USA Today: "We've had people actually thank us for [the policy]."

"Surprisingly, those on social media would probably be appalled to hear us say these things, but the majority of people that I've run into have been supportive. We respect the decision of every parent, whatever decision they make," he added.

A Journal of Family Psychology study released in 2016 showed corporal punishment is not necessarily an effective strategy, with the study's authors writing: "The meta-analyses presented here found no evidence that spanking is associated with improved child behavior and rather found spanking to be associated with increased risk of 13 detrimental outcomes."

"Parents who use spanking, practitioners who recommend it, and policymakers who allow it might reconsider doing so given that there is no evidence that spanking does any good for children and all evidence points to the risk of it doing harm," the study also noted.

Featured image credit: Macky Albor / Alamy

Missouri school district brings back paddling as form of punishment

vt-author-image

By Phoebe Egoroff

Article saved!Article saved!

A Southwest Missouri school district has recently adopted a policy allowing corporal punishment of students "when all other alternative means of discipline have failed" and "only in reasonable form," per CNN.

The Cassville R-IV school district will allow parents to opt-in to their children receiving the physical punishment which, according to the district's student handbook, will consist of "swatting buttocks with a paddle."

The handbook defines corporal punishment as: "The use of physical force as a method of correcting student behavior. Corporal punishment, as a measure of correction or of maintaining discipline and order in schools, is permitted.

"However, it shall be used only when all other alternative means of discipline have failed, and then only in reasonable form and upon the recommendation of the principal. Corporal punishment shall be administered only by swatting buttocks with a paddle," the handbook continues.

Despite offering the definition, the handbook offers no clarification as to what would be considered "reasonable".

As reported by KYTV, the policy came about after a survey was sent to staff, parents, and students in the school district in May.

The district's superintendent, Dr. Merlyn Johnson, spoke to the media outlet about the decision: "One of the suggestions that came out was concerns about student discipline. So we reacted by implementing several different strategies, corporal punishment being one of them."

Johnson then stated that this new policy will give school principals a further disciplinary option, before having to resort to more serious punishments like suspension or expulsion.

"It's something we don't anticipate using frequently," the superintendent said. "This is an opt-in only option for parents, so anyone who disagrees with corporal punishment, they simply do nothing by not opting in."

wp-image-1263167173 size-full
Cassville district schools have implemented an opt-in policy allowing schools to inflict physical punishment on students. Credit: WoodysPhotos / Alamy

Cassville, where the policy has been implemented, is a small town of around 4,000 people - and according to the town's superintendent, a "very traditional community in Southwest Missouri."

Given this, superintendent Johnson told USA Today: "We've had people actually thank us for [the policy]."

"Surprisingly, those on social media would probably be appalled to hear us say these things, but the majority of people that I've run into have been supportive. We respect the decision of every parent, whatever decision they make," he added.

A Journal of Family Psychology study released in 2016 showed corporal punishment is not necessarily an effective strategy, with the study's authors writing: "The meta-analyses presented here found no evidence that spanking is associated with improved child behavior and rather found spanking to be associated with increased risk of 13 detrimental outcomes."

"Parents who use spanking, practitioners who recommend it, and policymakers who allow it might reconsider doing so given that there is no evidence that spanking does any good for children and all evidence points to the risk of it doing harm," the study also noted.

Featured image credit: Macky Albor / Alamy