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Board of Education....

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with emphasis on the word "board."

A documentary style film about school brutality in many states that is sanctioned by laws. The people who espouse this behavior as necessary for school discipline are the real bullies in our society. And don't be surprised when they wave the Bible and say it is God's will. Disgusting!

Warning: the film contains disturbing images.

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In many school districts across the country, certainly in the city where I live, teachers and admins cannot use corporeal punishment anymore, and have not been allowed to do so for several years now.

But then, neither can they nor the kids hug each other.

The former might or might not be a good idea in certain cases. The latter, I think, is a bad idea and entirely too paranoid, in danger of setting up the very anti-social behaviors and lack of emotional fullness and maturity that they seek to avoid.

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One of the biggest problems in America is that there are no uniform Federal laws for certain things like the age of consent, for marriage laws, and for issues like corporal punishment. There has long been pressure against Washington to take away the individual states' control, so this is why what's legal in (say) Arkansas might be totally illegal in Utah... or vice-versa.

I can say I was disciplined two or three times by spanking when I was in elementary school, and it was a fairly harrowing, traumatic experience. It didn't necessarily stop me from doing whatever it was I was doing, but it sure made me work harder against getting caught. On the one hand, I'm sympathetic to teachers who are subjected by violence and out-of-control students, but to me, when it gets to the point where discipline is needed, you just suspend the kid and throw him out for a couple of days.

My mother was a schoolteacher for more than 30 years, and she had some horrific stories about having to deal with unruly 5th graders. Towards the end of her career, she said the real problem was the parents: if she sent a kid home with a note citing behavioral problems, the parents would come in the next day, ready to smack her around for suggesting that their child wasn't a little angel! It got so bad, eventually, California teachers had to have the principal present -- and sometimes a third witness -- just to referee some of these discussions and make sure the parents didn't instigate any more violence.

What is interesting nowadays is, if a teacher does get out of control, there's always some kid in the back with a cellphone camera ready to record the incident and post it to YouTube five minutes later. This has ended some careers in recent years. In a way, it's justice; in another way, it's sad that one minor incident can ruin a teacher's entire career just because they had a bad day. That doesn't excuse violence against children, but there's a difference between swatting a 7-year-old vs. having a 12-year-old pull a knife on you (which literally did happen to my mother, one of several incidents that eventually caused her to retire).

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I'm sure we all realize there are many different viewpoints about punishing a child. The general view on spanking from professionals in pediatrics is that the effort is counterproductive. Almost all of this data is gathered from parent-child situations, and that brings up an interesting point.

Parents are the source of nurture for their children. Many feel that the occasional spanking is of something necessary to punctuate a child's misbehavior. The rationale is that the hugs need to outnumber the spankings so that the child understands the punishment is the furthest extreme. But does this apply to teachers who spank?

Every parent knows, or should know, that you do not spank a child when you are angry. The point of the spanking is to assert something drastic and draw attention to the misbehavior. Corporal punishment with a small plank of wood strikes me as nothing more than child abuse. The idea that angry teachers can strike a child at any time they see fit is outrageous behavior, especially when they are consumed with anger. I would suggest they are the least likely applicant of punishment if there is a rational lesson to be learned.

My mother used to give me that old "wait until your father comes home" speech. It was his duty to punish, a most unfair chore after a long day of work. But I was given the time to contemplate my transgression before the stroke of the lash, and those hours were often worse than my tired father's belt.

I would suggest teachers should not be allowed to spank without recourse to intelligent adjudication of the action before the school principal. Detention and suspension, spanking and expulsion, should all be the at the hands of the administration, period. Those who would have parents apply a "time out" in lieu of spanking should see the benefit of a student sitting on the bench outside a principal's office and contemplating their punishment. Teachers should be grateful that the chore is taken out of their hands so that they don't have to return to the classroom in anger and take it out on the other children.

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I think spanking of any kind should be banned 100%. There is no place for this in schools. It is tantamount to officially licensed bullying. It teaches that if you're bigger and stronger, it's OK to abuse someone smaller and less powerful. It shows that physical violence is an appropriate avenue to use to solve problems.

There are many ways to counter misbehavior in schools, and none of them require violence. I'll bet EleCivil could list ten things he's done off the top of his head that have stopped problems and at the same time taught a valuable lesson, both to the trouble maker(s) and witnesses.

Using violence shows you've given up, and are letting your anger make your decisions for you. And it's teaching kids that they can do the same thing.

I look at those abused bottoms and wonder what the children owning those bottoms learned. Fear? Maybe. Obediance? Doubful. Hatred? Almost certainly.

Does any of that have anything to do with the learning environment?


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With all due respect.... Time outs? Sit on a bench outside the principal's office?

When did you last visit even a big suburban or city school, much less an inner city school?

It *might* work in that suburban school. It would *not* work in the inner city school -- at all!

I went to schools in a district on the edge of the big city. Nice, fairly new elementary school at the time, "open concept" 1970's thing. (The "open concept" did not work, too distracting and open, they began undoing that in the 80's.) Also nice junoir high, not as new. (Renamed a "middle school" long since.) Well established high school, recent enough at the time, since added one or two wings to the campus.

That was over 25 years ago since I graduated. Still one of the best districts in the state, education and economy-wise. Demographics as mixed as anywhere in my city, race, etc. completely tossed salad melting pot. Since then:

* Increasing presence of drugs, beyond the few kids high when I went. (One attempted to fly out a window, did not make it, while I was in high school.)

* Progress: A GSA was started during the time AwesomeDude's site has been around. -- Homosexual or gay did not appear in my student handbook at all.

* School uniforms. We didn't have uniforms, we dressed like normal, but with a dress code. (When I went, kids were sent home for those New Wave and Punk styles. Can't imagine the twitching if a kid had come in with a Kulture Klub look, and Goth wasn't really on the radar yet....)

* Metal detectors. Yes, apparently my old high school has those. But to be fair, more than one kid had brought a handgun in his/her backpack by then.

* I still remember back in Desert Storm, turning on the evening news to see army personnel, male and female, forming up in my old school "cafetorium" to be shipped out to the nearest two forts and airbases for deployment. Seeing fully armed soldiers in fatigues in formation in my old cafeteria? Surreal. Didn't help that I had two cousins in service branches at the time, either.

What I am trying to say is, the present-day school system, even in a relatively mild environment like my old school district, is not like it was when you or I grew up.

I'm not even citing the examples from a couple of local teachers, middle school aged kids who'd hide under desks, because when you're from the projects and your home life includes drug addicts and gang violence, this seems like a reasonable thing, or kids older who have worse problems, are there.

If even the smart kids in your school know to be on guard and show they are tough, and be on the lookout against some gang member or other threat, you are dealing with a much different system, mindset and physical realities, than simply saying no and go to the principal. What will actually happen? The bright kid might do it or might simply go home. The real problem kid may decide to beat your ass, cut you, or do a runner, especially if he has priors.

Note I am not making assumptions of skin color or other things there, because hey, no matter what color skin the kids have, they are, where I grew up and where I live now, living within a few blocks of each other at most, or right next door, or possibly in the same house, or in the same body, multi-racial. (And yes, this includes friends and a few relatives.)

I'm not trying to pick a fight, either. I am simply trying to say, today's school and neighborhood realities are *not* like the 80's, 70's, 60's, or 50's. We live in the era of texting and cyber-bullying and sexting, as much as the era of school districts that are underfunded, understaffed, and vastly overpopulated, and with home and neighborhood situations that might be white-bread or slum-lord friendly, either way.

I'm also *not* condoning a teacher or admin wailing the tar out of an elementary school child's little butt, even if that kid has been a major brat. There are better ways to deal with discipline. I am not altogether opposed to corporeal punishment, but it is a last resort, used in a specific way to get across that there are physical consequences for bad behavior. If a kid has done something totally out of control, it's likely corporeal punishment is beyond what would help, anyway. And if it is used, it should be limited. -- Corporeal punishment was occasionally used, usually against boys, up through when I was in junior high, and those coaches and principals were not kidding around with it. Was that a good idea, was it right, given whatever the boys had done? Was it too extreme, did the punishment fit the crime? Generally not. -- I'll also say, my parents stopped spanking me when I was somewhere around kindergarten age, and switched to lectures and privileges and grounding. Reason: Words and reasoning worked better, at least for me, and they didn't want to discipline when they themselves were angry.

I'm just saying, the world is much different today. The kids today have to live in it and make some sense of it, the same as the parents and teachers. It isn't always any one group's fault, either. If your school lacks textbooks or lacks funding to make repairs to bathrooms, lighting, building structures, water and heating/cooling, can you be surprised the kids are not in the best learning environment? In an area where it could be beyond unhealthy not to be the toughest mo****-fu**** in the neighborhood, even if you're the brainiest kid in class, and the local dealers make more than anybody working two honest jobs, like at Mickey D's, is it surprising that is not the best disciplinary environment either?

The real wonder is that many kids *do* learn, go on to college or jobs, and become successful, caring adults, despite what they deal with at home and in the neighborhood.

Respectfully submitted dissenting viewpoint, here.

My current subdivision is halfway between one of the wealthiest and one of the poorest parts of town. I live in an older middle class subdivision inside the loop, that was built in the 50's and 60's. Most of my neighbors are about 20 years or more older than me. I'm one of the new younger people coming in after the original owners have retired, moved away, or passed away. My own neighborhood is completely mixed in almost any demographic, except skewed to the over-60 age some, and with the white folks in that over-60 bracket tending to feel uncomfortable about those people with not as pale skin tones. (Such as the neighbor who picked up the Spanish newspaper off my lawn, saying of course I wouldn't want *that*. I was too stunned back then to object. Now, I'd snatch it back and read it aloud to her!)

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I live in a relatively new California subdivision of the state capitol. This area happens to be one of the most racially integrated areas in the entire state. There are no majority populations - only minority and we have a broad cross-section of African-American, Latino, Asian, Caucausian, European, Eastern European, Indian, Arab, Filipino, well you name it we have it in this area. Our income spread runs from the lower middle-class to the upper middle class with gated communities and man-made lakes. There are a couple of gangs, and even in the 'best' schools you have a variety of problems that crop up.

Our kids attend a K-8 school and we've had problems with bullying, and we've had problems with a borderline autistic kid grabbing the breasts of our girl. Every single time, the school staff has handled the situations fairly well. The weakest link has proven to be the yard-duty staff. The strongest link has been the administration of the school. On tight budgets and with minimal support they've handled these situations with tact and care - never resorting to corporeal punishment or 'easy' solutions. If their first attempt at correction doesn't work, they escalate the case. Warnings become detentions, then they move to suspension, and they move to expulsion when it's necessary.

The mildly autistic boy who grabbed our girl's breasts? He was pulled from school for two days while his parents and therapists worked with him on understanding why what he did was wrong. When he was capable of understanding, he was moved back into the classroom. Before he came back, school staff sat down with our girl and discussed things with her and what she should do if the boy behaved badly again. Since then there haven't been problems between them - because the school took the time to manage the situation and approach it from an avenue that met the needs of BOTH students.

Now they're able to do it because our community was planned to have a large number of smaller schools that could handle these situations better. We pay for it with property taxes, but that's money well-spent in my mind. In the end there is only one solution for the problems we face in school - and that's spending the money and the time necessary for adults to interact and work with the kids that will one day take our place. We, as a nation, do not spend the time nor the money to make this happen.

What use is making all the money in the world when we leave the world to kids who are uncivilized brutes because we never spent time with them?

Since becoming parents my husband and I have spent at least 2-3 hours each night directly interacting with the kids, dealing with homework, taking them to sports, really talking to them and getting into what's going on in their lives. We still have problems with them (like a certain young man only getting B's with one C instead of A's and B's), and we have to accept that I will have fewer clients and less income while spending more time with the kids - but it's a good tradeoff. They may never be the next President of the United States or Babe Ruth, but whatever they are I'm fairly confident they will be decent adults and human beings.

It takes time, OUR time to raise kids right and until we approach these problems and issues ready to make the investment of our time, our schools and society will only continue to erode.

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Bad, yes. Especially bad, because so many teachers, and so many special needs teachers, would never act so cruelly or unprofessionally towards a child.

Of all my teachers, I can only think of three or four, plus one counselor (!) who were bad in general or in more than a couple of instances. The teachers who did special needs classes or services were about as skilled as they could be at that time. I was in mainstream classes, something my parents fought for, and mostly the right decision. But of course, I knew the other handicapped kids, generally, and sometimes knew the special needs teachers. Usually, a given school is lucky to have one or two special needs teachers or aides for larger class sizes than they can readily handle (much like the mainstream classes) with the exception that those special ed teachers are handling that group of 20 to 30 or so kids out of a school population of at least a thousand.

Usually, it's the other students who are the problems. Occasionally, it's a teacher or coach, counselor or administrator who's a problem.

But when there is a problem, it needs to be dealt with. The case Des gave the link to? Bad, bad caregiving. Not that I haven't seen bad caregivers. I have, unfortunately.

On the other hand, when you have excellent teachers and staffers doing things right, as DKStories relates, that should be praised and encouraged. There were some outstanding teachers and counselors and admins when I went. They went above and beyond for their students, great, caring, talented educators. That's what you want to see for a school.

The situation is not easy out there, folks. There is a lot, positive and negative, going on.

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Corporal punishment was still used in schools here when I was in elementary school. I was never unlucky enough to feel it, but some of my friends did. Now we know there are better ways, and I'm glad for that, though the fact remains that dealing with difficult behaviour is resource intensive and time consuming, and requires knowledge and a good understanding and education in child development. It's no accident that places with the least trained and lowest paid teachers have the highest use of (and advocates for) corporal punishment. It's cheap, easy, and, unfortunately, effective in the very short term. If it weren't, it wouldn't be used. The problem that is overlooked is that it is either ineffective, or completely counter-productive, in the mid to long term, as we've learned through innumerable studies since the 1950's. More significantly, the underlying lesson becomes, "If you're stronger and can inflict pain, then you're right."

Why anyway would want to teach a child that lesson is beyond me.

I had good teachers and bad teachers, like most of us. The good teachers always shared a few common traits. They had clear expectations and boundaries. They listened. They said a lot with few words. They never or rarely raised their voices or became visibly upset or overcome with their student's behaviour. They used encouragement and praise far more than detentions or criticism. Criticism, when needed, was clearly delivered in a way to make it clear that it was about the behaviour or work, not about the student. They were never sarcastic or belittling, at least to students. Not one of them, out of all the teachers I would consider exceptional, can I imagine feeling corporal punishment was the way to go.

The worst teachers of all though were the apathetic ones. The burn-outs. I had a social studies teacher in junior high that fit this category. He had a couple of bottles hidden in the corner closet in the classroom. He seemed to find a lot of reasons during class to need to go get something out of this closet. He thought he was being careful. He thought he was being clever. But every single student in the school knew exactly what he was up to, and he was pitied by a few, reviled by most. He was the laughing stock of the school. Behind his back mostly. All I remember from his class was that we watched a hell of a lot of films during social studies that year. Easier than actually teaching I guess.

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This is relevant..and horrifying.

Following up on what Des has posted, the lawyers are in it now to muddy the water:


Of course no one mentions that this recording was made on only one of this child's days in the classroom with these ignorant teachers and aides. If he was acting out enough to get the attention of the administration and his father you would think the verbal assaults had been going on for some time.

There is no way any of the staff in that classroom are guilt free. If they had seen the others doing something reprehensible and not reported it then they are just as guilty. Fire them all! And for goodness sake, take them to court for damages.

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