Georgia Charter School Wants to Reintroduce Paddling

A charter school in Hephzibah, Georgia, is asking parents for permission to paddle their children.

The Georgia School of Innovation and the Classics, a kindergarten through ninth grade school, gives details of its proposal in a letter to parents explaining that “a student will be taken into an office behind closed doors. The student will place their hands on their knees or piece of furniture and will be struck on the buttocks with a paddle.” 

The letter goes on to state that the punishment must take place in “the presence of an adult witness” and that “no more than three licks” should be given. The school policy also requires that the student’s parents be informed and specifies the type of paddle that should be used: one made of wood and “24 inches in length, six inches in width and 3/4 inches in thickness.”

To be clear, Georgia is one of the 19 U.S. states where corporal punishment remains legal, but parents in any of these states can write a letter requesting that their child be exempt from physical punishment.

In the case of GSIC, if parents opt out of this punishment, their child must agree to a five-day suspension policy in its place.

And so far, only one-third of the parents who have returned consent forms have agreed to allow their child to be subjected to corporal punishment.

Trying to justifying his new policy, GCIS superintendent Jody Boulineau said, “There was a time where corporal punishment was kind of the norm in school and you didn’t have the problems you have.”

Yes, Mr. Boulineau, and there are plenty of reasons why corporal punishment is no longer the norm. Which century are you living in?

Let’s begin with this statement from The National Association of School Psychologists:

Corporal punishment negatively affects the social, psychological, and educational development of students and contributes to the cycle of child abuse and pro-violence attitudes of youth.

The magazine Psychology Today makes a great point too:

One is not permitted to hit one’s spouse or a stranger; these actions are considered assault and battery. Why in the world should one be permitted to hit a smaller and even more vulnerable child?

Nevertheless, a 2016 report by the Education Week Research Center revealed that corporal punishment was actually still used in 21 states around the U.S. — and that more than 109,000 students endured some kind of physical punishment during the 2013 to 2014 school year.

Additionally, the report uncovered that African-American students and low income students were the most likely to experience corporal punishment in these states.

Sarah Sparks, one of the report’s authors spoke on PBS about research showing that this kind of punishment can lead to higher rates of aggression and more violent behavior. Sparks also cited research indicating that children paddled many times had “lower brain matter in the part of the brain associated with self control.”

Aside from the obvious fact that physical punishment is cruel and barbaric, it’s also ineffective.

As a teacher, I have to spend the first few weeks of every year establishing a well-disciplined classroom, which is the only way my students will learn. Every student must take responsibility for himself and for his behavior and learning.

Paddling children does not help them to learn self-discipline. Instead, the more students are physically punished for their lack of self-control, the less they have. What happens is that they rely on outside forces to control them, but they don’t internalize that control.

In a vicious cycle, they are also likely to pass that idea of physical punishment onto their own children.

Enlightened educators across the country have been turning to restorative justice, seeing how ineffective corporal punishment is. They also understand that suspending a student for five days is exactly what that student wants: five days of free time, with no need to study.

By contrast, restorative justice forces students to face up to whatever they have done and to resolve conflicts on their own or in small groups. They talk through their actions with their teachers and their peers. This practice is only growing in popularity in schools across the U.S.

It’s long past time for all U.S. schools to ban the use of corporal punishment.

Take Action!

If you agree, please sign this Care2 petition calling on GSIC Superintendent Jody Boulineau to cancel his corporal punishment program and find a more effective and humane way of educating students.

Creating a Care2 petition is easy. If you have an issue you care deeply about, why not start your own petition? Here are some guidelines to help you get started and soon the Care2 community will be signing up to support you.


Photo Credit: thinkstock


Karen M
Karen Martinez4 days ago

As a retired educator, when I did work in a school that occasionally used corporal punishment, I discovered that paddling didn't work. The ones who got paddled had no connections between their butts and their brains, so a swat on the hind end made no difference in their behavior.

Leo C
Leo Custer4 days ago

Thank you for posting!

Kathy G
Kathy G4 days ago

Thank you

Kathy G
Kathy G4 days ago

Thank you

Mike R
Mike R4 days ago

This cannot be allowed. Petition signed. Thanks

Ann B
Ann B5 days ago

When i taught paddling was accepted...and that idea of having to go to the principals office was the "fear" -----most times NOT necessary.. WHEN IT WAS STOPPED see what we have on the news today...PARENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE--and they are doing nothing except expressing--you will not touch MY KID...well someone should----if we had talked the way they do today we would have been sent home and expelled....and you also knew what you wold get when you got home--SO SORRY that time has passed--no respect no manner no conscience

Shane Kennedy
Shane Kennedy5 days ago

"More children these days seem to have a lack of respect for authority". Correct, but that is the parent's fault, often doing nothing towards their kid's education, education that needs to go well beyond academics. Many people shouldn't have a fish, never mind a child.

Shane Kennedy
Shane Kennedy5 days ago

"wouldn't have the problems" ? Maybe not in school, but they will suffer the trauma for years, maybe a lifetime.

Loredana V
Loredana V5 days ago

Wrong on many levels!

Debbi W
Debbi W6 days ago

Three __licks__ can be quite painful. I attended a Lutheran school in the first grade. The principle did the paddling, the teacher tied some boys into their seats when they decided to misbehave. That was intimidating, even though I followed the rules. I attended a country school, for the second grade. It was literally painted red and had an outhouse that was quite breezy when it snowed and an iron wood stove for heat. The teacher walked around with a wooden ruler in her hand and did not hesitate to use it if she did not like your answer to her question. She went to strike my hand once, I was so frightened I wasn't learning anything, and pulled my hand back behind me. She shoved me back down into my seat. I would never condone corporal punishment by any school. It is cruel, and frightened children do not learn, nor do angry children.