A Missouri school district has decided to reintroduce corporal punishment in its classrooms, allowing students to be punished with a paddle under a new policy.
The school board approved the policy in June, notifying parents that the Missouri school district of Cassville is bringing back the beating — a disciplinary measure that was abandoned by the district in 2001, according to the Springfield News Leader.
The change to reintroduce spanking came after a survey sent to parents last year found they wanted extra discipline and it was one of their biggest concerns, said Cassville school principal Merlyn Johnson.
“The complaints we’ve heard from some of our parents are that they don’t want their students to be suspended. They want another option,” Johnson told The Hill. “And so this was just another option that we could use before we got to that point of suspension.”
Administrators will use corporal punishment as a “last resort” if other disciplinary measures do not work. The sentence will only be used in “reasonable form and on the recommendation of the director,” Johnson said.
Parents who wish to spank their children can sign an opt-in form provided by the school office. Johnson said it is still unclear how many parents will allow their children to hit. He said the forms were sent out during open house Wednesday and that he “should have a number later in the week,” the Springfield News Leader reported.
According to Johnson, parents have asked him, “Why can’t you paddle my student?” to which he replied that school policy does not support such a measure. “There had been discussions with parents and requests from parents to look into it,” he said.
Corporal punishment in the school district is only carried out by a principal and in the presence of a witness. It will never be inflicted in front of other students, Johnson said.
“If it is necessary to use corporal punishment, it should be administered in such a way that there is no risk of bodily harm or injury. Hitting a student on the head or face is not allowed,” said the policy, which Springfield News-Leader reviewed. The only allowed punishment is “beating the butt with a paddle”.
Johnson said “one or two” swings will be inflicted on younger students and up to three swings for older students.
The US Supreme Court ruled that corporal punishment in schools was constitutional and left it to the states to decide whether to enforce it. Currently, there are 19 states in the US that still allow corporal punishment. The majority of states that allow it are in the south.