Missouri's Cassville School District has opted to reinstate a practice that many perceive as barbaric and inhumane -- corporal punishment. The new policy specifically condones spanking and paddling in schools as a means of discipline.
In Cassville schools, the practice will be implemented "when all other alternative means of discipline have failed and then only in reasonable form and upon the recommendation of the principal." The policy stipulates that "swatting the buttocks with a paddle" is the only permissible form of corporal punishment within these contexts.
Many perplexed Missourians have wondered whether the restoration of this lurid practice culminated from government malfeasance or simply public support. Reports suggest that both factors played a role. USA Today reports that the school district "brought it back in response to requests from parents."
The district had passed its first law prohibiting corporal punishment 21 years earlier, in 2001. Therefore, the new policy is not unprecedented, and supporters regard it as the cornerstone of a "tough love" parenting approach that produces obedient and law-abiding children.
Human rights advocates have condemned the policy's supporters as morally corrupt reprobates. They contend that children should not be expected to be penitent for puerile behavior. Defenders of the policy deride detractors as moralistic crusaders running roughshod over their liberty to practice a necessary and salutary tradition.
However, research suggests that corporal punishment is not effective in decreasing juvenile crime rates. Research has demonstrated that corporal punishment is associated with diminished self-esteem and math and vocabulary scores. In addition, corporal punishment has typically been executed in a manner that disproportionately targets children of color.
According to CNN,
A meta-analysis of 75 studies on spanking found that it contributed to aggression, mental health and social esteem problems and antisocial behavior in children, which carried into adulthood.
In contrast to the assertions of proponents of corporal punishment, research has also revealed that physical forms of discipline increase delinquency and neuroticism among children.