This US School District Just Reinstated Spanking as Punishment. "People Actually Thank Us"

New policy causes controversy.

A Missouri school district said it will reinstate spanking as a punishment this year. Although the idea is controversial on social media, a school official said the policy change is supported by the majority of local residents, some of whom actively asked that corporal punishment be brought back into schools. Read on to find out how it came about, exactly what the spanking guidelines are, and what people on Twitter are saying about it all. 

1
Parents Must Give Permission

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Merlyn Johnson, the Cassville School District superintendent, told USA Today that bringing back corporal punishment wasn't his goal. "But it is something that has happened on my watch and I'm OK with it," he said. The local school board approved the policy change in June. Corporal punishment will be allowed "when all other alternative means of discipline have failed and then only in reasonable form and upon the recommendation of the principal," they specified. Parents must give written permission and can opt out.

2
Some Parents Requested In-School Spanking

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Cassville (population about 4,000) is a "very traditional community in southwest Missouri," Johnson said, adding that some parents have asked that corporal punishment be used in school. "Parents have said 'why can't you paddle my student?' and we're like, 'We can't paddle your student, our policy does not support that,'" he said. "There had been conversation with parents, and there had been requests from parents for us to look into it."

3
Social Media Reacts

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The news was widely criticized on social media. "Corporal punishment is archaic and disgusting," tweeted Jessica Piper, a Missouri teacher who is running for state representative. "I'm completely in favor of corporal punishment as a penalty for people who would legislate or use corporal punishment against minors," tweeted @ddgulledge. "An excellent means of teaching children that violence is the proper way to react to any conflict," wrote @BurdLarryes. "You're fine with teaching children it's okay to be abused & they have to stay in an abusive relationship. Wrong message," said @Aliphaire. "Not really a big deal. The school districts will just provide a waiver if the parent does not want corporal punishment for their child," wrote @country_thang.

4
"We've Had People Thank Us For It"

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Johnson said most local families support the decision. "We've had people actually thank us for it," he said. "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." He added: "We respect the decision of every parent, whatever decision they make."

5
Policy Specifies Method, Number of Strikes

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The Cassville school board has set specific guidelines on how corporal punishment can be used. The only corporal punishment allowed is "swatting the buttocks with a paddle." "When it becomes necessary to use corporal punishment, it shall be administered so that there can be no chance of bodily injury or harm," their policy states. "Striking a student on the head or face is not permitted." Johnson said spanking can only be administered by a principal, with a witness, and never around other students. One to two strikes will be allowed on younger students; older students may get three, he added.

6
"No One Is Jumping Up and Down"

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"No one is jumping up and down saying we want to do this because we like to paddle kids. That is not the reason that we would want to do this," said Johnson. The policy originated because teachers had expressed frustration with discipline problems among students. "We understand that it is a bit of a shock factor," he said. "So if there is one kid or a few kids out there that know…there might be a different type of discipline, it might change their behavior."

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more
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