Saturday, September 30, 2006

Paddling and Torture

There was a NYT article this morning about school districts which allow "paddling" of students. Mostly in the South and apparently all Mid and High schools, a last resort to create order in the schools. Paddling means, with a wooden paddle, maybe with holes drilled in it to increase the sting. "It can be abused," said one principal, "but it is very useful." but he gives himself away. He's got a kindergarten euphemism for the practice, "Giving pops." Doesn't that sound cheerful? There are schools where 15% of the kids (probably nearly 30% of the boys, since they get paddled much more than girls) have been "paddled" (another kindergarten euphemism) in a year's time. So let's call it like it is. If it's with a stick, it's a beating. If it leaves bruises, it's a beating. If such a large percentage of students "need" this to manage themselves in school, something is really wrong.

I wonder what beating kids is useful for, and what the unintended consequences are. It may keep order in school, but it's got to drive some kids to drop out. (so, just expel them, for pity's sake!) It may calm the halls temporarily, but it may also fuel rage over the long haul. It's probably used as a desperation tactic which really only covers over the problems. Which then go unsolved. And it can be abused. No doubt has been, will be, is being abused. No matter. Apparently, the practice is not outlawed everywhere and where it's not, it's being revived.

Beating school kids aims to teach kids a lesson about behaving or else the person in power will hurt you. Torture aims to get someone to talk or else the person in power will hurt you. It's having a comeback in our nation, too. It's unintended consequences are also problematic, but the powerful and desperate people who use it apparently don't care about that. Being powerful and having the right to really hurt it a kid in your school or a prisoner in your jail, is just too exciting. Lord have mercy on us all.

1 comment:

Lizard Eater said...

Great post. I hate those euphemisms ... I mean, "paddling" ... heck, that's only two letters away from "cuddling," right? It can't really be a violation, with a cute name like that.

I can remember being only about 4 or 5 and putting the pieces together ... "My parents say hitting is wrong. They say they don't hit me. But they spank me. Which is hitting my bottom. But they say that's not hitting. But I really think it is!"

And in the schools -- hitting someone younger, smaller and in an inferior role, on what is considered to be a "private" part of the body ... nah, that couldn't be torture ...