A school district in southwest Missouri is bringing back corporal punishment in the form spanking with a paddle as a discipline measure.
Cassville Public Schools announced the option for parents to “opt into” having their children be punished by being “swatted on the buttocks with a paddle,” according to reporting from The Kansas City Star. Students can be hit by school administrators with a paddle to avoid suspension under the new policy.
The district’s decision to allow the archaic form of punishment in schools has divided the community.
“I do not think it is appropriate…At the end of the day, they are having to hold the child down and spank them or use whatever means that they can to make the child submissive when that is not the issue, it is the fact that they need to be heard because children act out for varied reasons,” said Miranda WaltripThe district is home to a mother of three young children.
Superintendent Merlyn Johnson has claimed that most of the district’s residents back the change, citing feedback he’s personally receivedCommunity members supporting the disciplinary action.
“This was just another option that we could use before we get to that point of suspension,” he said.
There are many nonviolent alternatives to suspensions that a district could choose to adopt. One effective and meaningful disciplinary measure is restorative chat, which helps students “understand the harm done by their actions and [allows] them an opportunity to repair this harm” in an empowering and non-humiliating way, according to a 2017 article from the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Spawning is a form of corporal punishment. has long been known to be an ineffective means of disciplining childrenIn fact, such measures can actually encourage the exact behaviors that disciplinarians are trying and correct.
“Many studies have shown that physical punishment — including spanking, hitting and other means of causing pain — can lead to increased aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injury and mental health problems for children,” wrote psychologist Brendan L. Smith in an article for the American Psychological Association’s Monitor Psychology2012.
Recent research has also shown that corporal punishment can cause long-term negative effects in children that last well into adulthood.
“We know that spanking is not effective and can be harmful for children’s development and increases the chance of mental health issues,” said Jorge CuartasThe Harvard study was co-authored by, who also wrote the article that was published in 2021. “We also know it can have potential impact on brain development, changing biology, and leading to lasting consequences.”
A 2016 study published in the Society for Research in Child DevelopmentIn states where corporal punishment continues to be used in schools, it was found that BChildren with disabilities, boys, and children who were not in the household were targeted disproportionately.
The district’s return to corporal punishment comes as right-wing lawmakers are launching a barrage of attacks on students’ autonomy across the country, often under the banner of preserving parental rights. In recent months far-right lawmakers have School libraries are forbidden from reading banned booksParticularly those that incorporate Black and LGBTQ perspectives attempted to force teachers to “out” trans studentsto their parents; Students in public schools were forced into ChristianityFaculty should not promote religious actions.