Why did Alabama paddle 19,000 students in one school year?
Thursday, 22 Sep 2016 13:37 pm
Reporter :

Sir Frank Peters

September 22, 2016: The sizzling hot question that’s been asked in the red-carpeted corridors of power and throughout the United States right now is why did the State of Alabama paddle 19,000 students during the 2013-2014 school year?

They’re also asking why black males received the highest rate of paddling (corporal punishment). Though black males only made up 24% of the population, they accounted for 35% of the total male students that were paddled.

That’s an alarming and horrific blot to have on the school books of any state… indeed of any country and the appalling statistics inadvertently pose the question, when is all of America going to become civilized?

Surely in the land of mass communications, all Americans must know by now that corporal punishment is an archaic abominable practice that is totally ineffective; unless, of course, the prime aim of its use is to ensure that in later years the streets are littered with broken adults, that crime and civil disturbance is maintained at a high level, and a need for more jails is ensured.

There have been countless studies published by eminent individual professionals; universities and organizations in the USA (and elsewhere) about the ill effects of corporal punishment and all, without exception condemn the evil antiquated practice.

In her award-winning book, Breaking the Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment, Nadine A. Block from the Center for Effective Discipline, said: “Corporal punishment has absolutely no positive effects, but countless negatives attributes. Young American lives are being damaged and ruined unnecessarily through the effects of corporal punishment, and, consequently, an abhorrent society is being created.”

Block succeeded in banning the archaic and sometimes brutal practice in her native state of Ohio and has been tirelessly working towards achieving a national ban.

The majority of States in the USA have banned corporal punishment in schools and stopped ‘teachers’ from venting their anger and/or receiving sadistic pleasure from beating defenceless children. Alarmingly, in Alabama schools, a child is beaten every four minutes, according to the latest available data from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. Furthermore, the count is of individual students and does not indicate how many were paddled more than once.


"I don't anticipate this being the focus of change that Alabama needs to move our student achievement higher," said Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, chair of the Education Policy committee in the Alabama House of Representatives. Collins said no one has brought up the subject of paddling in the legislature.

"As a child paddled, and as a parent who paddled, I've not experienced the negative side of corporal punishment personally, only the positive side," Collins said.

The man is disillusioned and fooling himself. There are NO positive aspects to corporal punishment whatsoever. As mentioned, thousands of studies prove this fact.

Many thousands of youths drop out from school each year blaming corporal punishment. Are these children grateful to society for not protecting them in their vulnerable state? Of course not! They owe nothing to society except the hurt, pain and damage that society gave them – and they’re likely to repay that with interest.

You can’t expect Godly results from children, if you’re beating the devil into them. You reap what you sow.

Dr. Amir Whitaker, an attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center who has studied the effects of corporal punishment, says that Alabama policy contradicts national research. "It's a very convenient and knee-jerk reaction to discipline. And it does nothing but harm the child. All the research shows that, and all the experts know that," Whitaker said.

Whitaker also points out that if he, as an adult, hit a child with a board, he'd be charged with aggravated assault, yet Alabama law allows adult educators to hit children at school.

Meanwhile, American education and child advocacy groups, including the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Bar Association, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association for Secondary School Principals, and the American Civil Liberties Union, continue to call for a ban, citing harmful long-term effects of paddling on children and the need to keep physical violence out of the educational environment.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry policy statement against corporal punishment, reads in part: "Corporal punishment signals to the child that a way to settle interpersonal conflicts is to use physical force and inflict pain ... Supervising adults who wilfully humiliate children and punish by force and pain are often causing more harm than they prevent."

A recent study of all available research, called a "meta-analysis", on the effects of corporal punishment shows that paddling is not effective at controlling behaviours. "Instead of helping children to develop the desire and motivation to behave well of their own accord, corporal punishment teaches children that it is desirable not to get caught: rather than behaving differently next time, they are therefore likely to repeat the undesired behaviour and use strategies to avoid being caught."

Whitaker at the Southern Poverty Law Center said that cultural acceptance of spanking children in the South makes it difficult to end the practice at school.

Hypocrisy through imitation

"As a society, we've acknowledged that bullying in schools should not be tolerated. Arming administrators and teachers with weapons and telling them it's okay to use their physical dominance on children, it's a form of bullying that shouldn't be tolerated," he said. "It sends a message that physical violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict. In no other area is it acceptable to resolve conflict through violence. It shouldn't be tolerated in schools."

The late Swiss psychologist, Alice Mille wrote: “There is no educational value from spanking, it only causes fear and in fear the child’s attention is absorbed by the strategy of survival. They do not absorb messages about right behaviour in fear and thus stop learning from our words, but learn from our behaviour, thus learning violence and hypocrisy through imitation.”

Bangladesh recognized the flaws in its education tapestry and in 2011 Justice Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hasan Arif outlawed the damaging and ineffective practice of corporal punishment in schools and madrasas throughout the nation. They declared it to be “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom”. Unfortunately, there are still lawbreakers in the noble teaching profession, causing pain and suffering and, possibly, long-term damage to the very people they should be protecting.

The famous Dr. Benjamin Spock said: "If we are ever to turn toward a kindlier society and a safer world, a revulsion against the physical punishment of children would be a good place to start."

And just because a ‘teacher’ doesn’t know, perhaps never learned, how to discipline a child correctly, that isn’t justification for him or her to beat the child with their ignorance.

To prevent mental or physical damage to their child, no enlightened parent should send their child to a school or madrassa where corporal punishment is practised. No loving parent would.

 Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, a royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian, and a respected foreign non-political friend of Bangladesh.