Today we are going to once again see clear evidence that corporal punishment is alive and well in the US. I spent a little time going through a few online school handbooks for some high schools in Mississippi. One of the schools is private and the other two are public. The handbooks that I reviewed are for this academic year, so these are not outdated policies.
The private school that I looked at was very clear that corporal punishment is the primary form of discipline for minor offenses, and any teacher or administrator could administer it at their own discretion:
“Corporal punishment is an integral part of a good disciplinary program. It is the policy of TCA that Teachers and the Administration have the right to administer corporal punishment after following correct school procedures.”
It is made clear that any teacher can punish any student, regardless of the student’s age or grade. The student does not need to even be in that teacher’s class and this authority extends to any part of the school property and also for off campus events:
“Every teacher is authorized and encouraged to administer any punishment deemed necessary to correct bad conduct, bad attitude, or failure to do required work to any student regardless of his class or grade. This authority extends to halls, classrooms, school property, and off-campus school sponsored events.”
This is a pretty broad corporal punishment policy and allows a teacher to paddle a student for just about any reason they see fit. While most corporal policies are fairly specific regarding the offense, at this school teachers are allowed to paddle for bad attitude as well as failure to turn in an assignment. While there seems to be a broad set of guidelines that allow teachers and administrators to paddle whenever they see the need, within the school policies, corporal punishment is clearly defined as the punishment for most offenses, such as cell phone use:
While we realize that cell phones are a very important part of daily lives, they do not have a place in the educational environment. The use of a cell phone through any of its functions (calls, pictures, texting, etc.) is disruptive and interferes with the educational process and will not be permitted on school campus during school hours without permission from a school official. A student may not call parents from their cell phone to have them signed out of school. A student must use the phone in the office to call a parent.
1st Offense: The student will be given corporal punishment.
There is no warning, there are no options, and at this school parents do not have the ability to request that their child does not receive corporal punishment. The policy is quite simple, if a student has a cell phone and has it on, they will be paddled. This is just one example, for pretty much every minor offense listed in the student code of conduct, their butt will be paddled if they break the rules.
Another school I looked at in Mississippi caught my eye because this year they fully revised their corporal punishment policies from previous years. Typically when this happens, the rules that allow for the application of corporal punishment generally become more stringent. But this school changed their policy in a far different way. The precious discipline policy only allowed for corporal punishment to be used as a last resort. The new policy states:
“CP may be used by any licensed teacher. It shall be reasonable and moderate, and need no longer only be a last resort.”
Another change in the policy is:
“…the teacher administering the paddling need no longer be of the same sex as the student.”
In a day and age in which it seems that corporal punishment is being used less frequently, it is pretty clear that in parts of Mississippi, bottoms are getting bruised even more frequently. At this school any teacher can now paddle, they do not have to have tried other options, and male teachers can now paddle female students. While it is clear that teachers can paddle as frequently as required, there is a very clear “discipline ladder” that results from an “office discipline referral”. This is basically the process of getting sent to the office. Here it is exactly from the school handbook:
HLES and HUES will be using a classroom management plan based upon Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS). Each classroom will have a discipline ladder that will be provided to the students and the parents. All minor disciplinary offenses will follow this discipline ladder. This discipline ladder will define what behaviors will constitute an office discipline referral (ODR).
Once an ODR has been completed, the following steps will be taken:
1st office discipline referral (ODR) – Corporal punishment 1 day in-school-detention (ISD)
2nd ODR- Corporal punishment 2 days ISD – parent conference
3rd ODR- Corporal punishment 1 day out-of-school suspension (OSS)
4th ODR- Corporal punishment 2 days OSS
5th ODR ISD 2 days OSS”
This is pretty darn clear and there is no getting around it. If you are a student at this high school and you sent to the office by your teacher, for any reason, you will be paddled. They will not only be paddled, but some variation of a suspension will also be added on. This takes place for the 1ST four times a student is sent to the office. It does not matter what you did, what grade you are in, what sex you are, if you are sent to the office your ass is getting paddled each and every time.
The last Mississippi school that I looked at stood out because in the student code of conduct, basically each and every offense listed showed paddling as the punishment. Certainly the more severe offenses that were a violation of law had expulsion as the punishment, but for just about everything else it was corporal punishment. This school was also unique in that as a public school, there was no way for a parent to exempt their child from being paddled. Here is a small list from their code of conduct:
“Defiance or disrespect:
Student engages in refusal to follow directions, talks back and/or delivers socially rude interactions. Student will be paddled.
Profanity, vulgar language, or gestures, sexual remarks, stealing, or gambling:
Student engages in using inappropriate language, takes from another, or gambles.
Students guilty of these offenses will receive corporal punishment.
Student engages in physical contact between individuals that result in blows being exchanged:
Student will be paddled.
Possession or use of tobacco products on school property:
Student is in possession of or is using tobacco – this includes all type of smokeless tobacco and cigarettes.
1st offense – paddling.
Student engages in worrying, annoying, or intimidating another person in a sexual manner –this behavior will not be tolerated on school buses, campuses, or at any school sponsored activity
1st offense – paddling; parent contact
Harassment, intimidation, or threating other students:
Student delivers written/verbal messages that include swearing, calling or use of words in an inappropriate manner or threatens to do bodily harm. Minor offenses will result in a paddling.
Use/Possession of Combustibles:
Student is in possession of substances/objects readily capable of causing bodily harm and/or property damage (matches, lighters, firecrackers, gasoline, lighter fluid).The use or possession of these items will result in a paddling and may result in suspension. Parent contact will be required.
School Safety Violations Students engages in behaviors such as throwing objects, running from school officials, misuse of school property, or any other act that can cause a disruption to the safety of any student. Students guilty of these offenses will receive corporal punishment.”
So it may seem to many people that a teen girl getting paddled in school is simply just a fantasy and that it hardly takes place. But the truth of the matter is, right now, in just the state of Mississippi, there are a few young ladies, sitting across the desk from a school administrator, or maybe being marched into the hall outside their classroom. Their heart is beating rapidly and there is a lump in their throat because they know, in a just a minute’s time, that they are going to be required to stand up, and then bend over, to present their bottom to be paddled. Their parents can’t stop it, they do not have some other option that they get to choose, regardless of how they feel about, they are going to be spanked at school. This is the South and corporal punishment is taken very seriously. The teacher or administrator does not have to worry about a lawsuit from the parents, as in this town the parents support the use of corporal punishment. Chances are that this young lady that is about to get her bottom paddled, will do anything in her power to make sure her parents do not find out, as there is a good chance in this community that she will get it worse at home. At these schools a paddling is the first and primary form of discipline, so they make sure that it is effective. Corporal punishment is listed as the primary form of punishment for most offenses for a reason, because they mean business when they use it. The paddlings are administered full force, the goal is always tears, and it does not matter who is receiving it.