It’s starting. My 4-year-old son has mastered the art of negotiation.
He’ll want to ask for something he already knows will be a hard sell. “Mom, now don’t say no. Just listen. And just don’t say no.”
I sigh. “OK, what is it.” And you know what? It works. I’m such a pushover. When my little guy asks so sweetly and pleadingly for something, it’s impossible to say no and he knows it.
The same thing happens when he knows he did something wrong and punishment is inevitable. “Mom, now don’t get mad, even just a little mad. OK? Promise?”
Sigh. “OK, what did you do?” Again, he has complete success. How could I get mad when he prefaces his confession with that plea?
Or there’s the obvious deal-making. “So if I drink all my milk, and eat all my dinner, then I get two ice cream sandwiches, right? Two healthy things means I get two treats. That’s fair.”
I’m really in for it, aren’t I.
Last week, I wrote about our school district’s policy allowing corporal punishment (click here to read that post). I received many responses on both sides of this issue. Here are excerpts from just a few:
“I’m not sure what part of beating someone begats more beatings of someone smaller or “lower” than you the world does not understand. We have proved over and over again that harsher methods of punishment do not stop the problem and most often make it worse. Many moons ago we didn’t have the ability to understand our inner workings of our minds. Today we have a little bit better handle on it – but we still insist on using archaic methods to bring people “in line” with society’s rules.” -Linda Houck Maloney
“I am in total agreement with those who believe that corporal punishment (spanking) of disobedient, etc., children in schools, from grades 1 through 12. … I am a Christian, fairly conversant with the Bible, believe what it says, and it says in my Bible, “If you don’t chastise your child, you hate him.” That says it all. … As a retired counselor, I have always asked a new parent this question: “Do you want to train this child or do you want the child to train you?” -Arthur P. Long, Guthrie
“Lady, you are so wrong -wrong – wrong. I taught in the public schools for 31 years, and i am proud to say I have spanked many children – I am prouder to say I never hurt a single one physically.” -Larry Cooper
“If I were you, I would write a letter to the school stating that you do not wish for your son to be corporally punished under any circumstances. Make a copy of it for your records, and send it registered mail (or certified w/return receipt). May sound like a hassle but it’s a worthwhile precaution.” -Tom Johnson
“The overwhelming evidence shows that corporal punishment is related to increased aggression, more antisocial behavior, increased criminality, more mental health problems and increased adult abusive behaviors later in life. In the states that have abolished paddling in school, school violence has declined and academic achievement has increased. And common sense tells us that when big people hit little people, the message is clear that this is the way we solve problems and it’s okay to do this. I refer you to the website stophitting.org.” -Fran Morris, State Coordinator, Oklahomans Opposed to Corporal Punishment
“I grew up in California and before the mamby pamby psychologists took over, corporal punishment was used and used often. I believe its a great deterrant to further trouble from the student and the students that know what will happen if they get out of line. … The non-corporal punishment era is full of smart or foul mouthed students that have no respect for authority because the teachers have no authority in schools anymore.” -Mike DeFeo, Edmond
“I and many other concerned citizens have been working (sadly for DECADES) to ban physical/corporal punishment of children in schools. My teenaged son was threatened with a paddling for going outside for supervised free-time when he was supposedly told to stay in, but thankfully, we have always taught our children that “No one has the right to touch them, they can say “No”, get away and tell someone” which is why he told the Assistant Principal to call us. … We’ve never had any trouble with out kids, they’re reasonable, well-behaved and intelligent.” -Julie Worley
I learned a lot from many of your responses, so thank you for joining in on this discussion.
More information on corporal punishment
1. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 20 states still have districts that allow corporal punishment. That means 30 states are using alternative forms of discipline that don’t involve paddling or spanking.
2. A bill was introduced to Congress on June 29, 2010 (H.R. 5628) to end the use of corporal punishment in schools. Click here to read the full bill.
In short, the purposes of this bill are to:
(1) eliminate the use of corporal punishment in schools;
(2) ensure the safety of all students and school personnel in schools and promote a positive school culture and climate;
(3) assist States, local educational agencies, and schools in identifying and implementing effective evidence-based models to prevent and reduce–
(A) corporal punishment in schools;
(B) aversive behavior interventions that compromise health and safety; and
(C) physical, emotional, or psychological abuse.
My son is starting pre-K this week and last night we had our “meet the teacher” night. He will be attending school in the Putnam City District as a transfer, because the district we live in doesn’t have pre-K.
Last night, as I’m reading through Putnam City’s Elementary School Handbook for 2010-11, I notice an entry under “conduct” called “corporal punishment.” I’m expecting the entry to say something to the effect of “we don’t tolerate it, allow it, use it” … something along those lines. But it says something very different. It says:
“The district recognizes corporal punishment as a means of discipline.”
I have to say, I’m shocked. As an Oklahoma “transplant” from Connecticut (where corporal punishment is banned), I did not expect that this was a means of discipline in any school district, in any state, but sure enough it is. And not just small-town rural districts. We’re talking one of the biggest districts in the state.
I’m not necessarily upset about my son being subjected to corporal punishment, because I don’t believe it’s readily used on prekindergarteners. But what about other elementary school-age children? Is this an effective and appropriate form of discipline for children while they are in school? Or is this something that should be reserved for parents to use, in the privacy of their own home?
In the handbook it says it “shall be used only as a last resort and only after other reasonable corrective measures have been used without success.” And to be fair, they do consult with parents first. But as a parent of a young child, I find it hard to believe that schools can’t take other action when it comes to a “last resort.” There are many more states and school districts that don’t find the need to use physical force on students. Why should this one?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please e-mail me or comment below.