Even though our overly politically correct society has decided that beating animals with poles can be construed as unjust and abuse of the animals (and might get you thrown in jail or beaten by an angry mob yourself) and beating incarcerated adults is considered cruel and unusual punishment and forbade by our courts and Constitution. . . (apparently the 8th amendment even applies in Louisiana, folks.)
In Hudson v McMillian (1992) the Court considered whether the beating by prison guards of a handcuffed inmate at Louisiana’s Angola prison violated the inmate’s Eighth Amendment rights. Voting 7 to 2, the Court found a violation of the cruel and unusual punishment clause even though the inmate suffered no permanent injuries or injuries that required hospitalization. In so holding, the Court rejected the lower court’s argument that only beatings that caused “significant injuries” (read as injuries that were permanent or required hospitalization) rose to the level of Eighth Amendment violations. In dissent, Justices Thomas and Scalia argued (controversially) that the Eighth Amendment was intended to reach beatings by guards at all–rather only judicially-imposed sentences.
I believe a sound case can be made that ample use of the rod will impress upon our youth a valuable lesson that will serve them well throughout the rest of their life in this great country of ours.
The “Lesson” you ask?
Namely that of what I like to call the Iron Fist Rule as more pragmatic, modern, alternative to the passe’ Golden Rule. That force can, nay should, be met with unequal and overwhelming counter-force.
Take the recent example of Trayvon Martin. Here was a youth who had the sheer audacity to wear a hooded sweatshirt in a neighborhood known for harboring an over zealous neighborhood watch captain. No parent of a minority child in this country should, for one instant, think to allow their child to go outside looking like anything but an unassuming fellow like that Urkel from Family Matters. In this tragedy, the parents are as much to blame as the child who wore the hooded sweatshirt. Now some poor, frightened, gun-toting American is being harassed for doing what almost any one of us would have done in his case, chased down a suspicious character even after being told by the police to not chase him, (I mean, what black kid isn’t suspicious to Zimmerman?) and cornered him and his fiendishly purchased bag of skittles from the corner convenience store. Trayvon could have just done what a gun brandishing Zimmerman wanted, whatever that was, but instead Trayvon made the wrong choice. He chose to flee. Obviously Zimmerman had no choice but to shoot to kill.
Now you may be asking yourself, how does this tie into Corporal Punishment and Louisiana exactly?
The answer is quite simple. I believe we can prevent many of our own Trayvon Martin incidents by ensuring that Corporal Punishment is introduced into our public school system as early as possible. I mean, can you imagine any child not benefiting from strangers beating them in pre-school when they act up? What better way to convince little Timmy not to pinch or push another kid than 5 to 10 whacks with what I would like to refer to as the “Louisiana Board of Education” (funny huh?) which, off the top of my head, might be a wooden paddle 24″ long by 5″ wide by 3/8″ thick. . . or so. If we allowed our children to be beaten early and often for anything by just about anyone in authority they would soon learn that authority figures must be obeyed. . . or else.
I haven’t seen any credible studies done to prove what I’m about to say, but theoretically someone could create some statistics that would show that beating children on a regular basis improves test scores. Current studies actually show the opposite, as well as a number of other unfavorable correlations, but I’m sure we could find a reputable paddle maker to fund a study that would prove my point, so I will continue to assert my previous point more emphatically, thus making it true. Paddling will increase test scores! Paddling will lower the crime rates and murder rate, and also make us more competitive in the global marketplace! I believe it is our duty to pass laws in Louisiana that will allow school districts to paddle their students to their hearts’ content.
I’ll also throw in this observation as an added bonus. Corporal Punishment on Special Education students is not regulated by the Federal government. In fact, they may not even collect any data on this subject, which is an added, added bonus! Student’s with learning disabilities, or behavior problems such as being emotionally disturbed, would probably benefit from being “mainstreamed” with this discipline approach. Lets face it folks, Special Education students are probably the hardest students for teachers to work with and reach. Providing a 2 foot wooden paddle to teachers would greatly increase their reach. Additionally, since we’re cutting back on teacher salaries and benefits, many of them might not be able to afford gym memberships or therapy sessions anymore. Allowing teachers to administer a little corporal punishment on Special Educations students would probably help our teachers and principals in school districts that implement my policies build up some muscle tone and relieve some stress, sort of like using a punching bag in a gym does after a long day at work. But they could do this while at work! Many of the slower Special Education students might have trouble explaining or recanting the situation the provoked the corporal punishment response, which would make it almost impossible for anyone to sue a school district, principal, or teacher if they happen to go a little overboard with their exercise regime. . .
Ok, take a deep breath.
Hopefully this line of reasoning has you recoiling in horror and revulsion. However you may not have grasped the most disturbing part about this piece. This situation is already true in many parishes in the state. Louisiana Revised Statute. 17:223 allows school districts to set their own corporal punishment policies.
And boy have they!
You can see a sampling of some of the variety here.
Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:223 – Discipline of pupils; suspension from school, corporal punishment
A. Every teacher is authorized to hold every pupil to a strict accountability for any disorderly conduct in school or on the playground of the school, or on any school bus going to or returning from school, or during intermission or recess. Each parish and city school board shall have discretion in the use of corporal punishment. In those cases in which a parish or city school board decides to use corporal punishment, each parish or city school board shall adopt such rules and regulations as it deems necessary to implement and control any form of corporal punishment in the schools in its district.
Estimates are close to 30 parishes have some form of Corporal Punishment policy. State law does not give the state Department of Education any say over the matter whatsoever. This means any school or school district in Louisiana can allow anyone on their staff to use any amount of corporal punishment for any offense as often as they like regardless of the age or health of the student. Some parishes punish up to half of their entire student body, every year! Some students get punished dozens of times a year! There are no restrictions for using this punishment on disabled students, or infants, or the 18 and 19 year olds we are about to send out into the real world and hope they won’t take these lessons with them.
Fortunately more than half the state understands that this practice is barbaric, or they have at least recognized the potential liability they could incur should a student successfully sue and win on 8th Amendment grounds. The messed up part here is that, while as a society we generally find animal abuse and abuse of prisoners abhorrent, when we rename the abuse “Corporal Punishment” and use it on our children, too many people find it tolerable or even something to be proud of.
I’m proud of Louisiana culture, Louisiana food, art, music, history, resilience, and perseverance in the face of many an overwhelmingly adverse situation. However this state sanctioned child abuse , this is something of which I am very ashamed to be associated with. My only hope is that one day enough of you will feel that way as well, and join my call to outlaw it.
Incidentally, and as I’ve discussed with others earlier, our appeals court has determined in Setliff vVs Rapides School Board that the legislature does not allow parents to opt out of corporal punishment for their children. This case involves a kindergartener, certainly not well-behaved, but nevertheless one that was subjected to corporal punishment against his parents wishes. According to the court, allowing parents the right to refuse to allow their children to be beaten with a wooden club that at times requires emergency room visits (also cited in the case notes) would lead to riots in the streets, mass hysteria and pandemonium, dogs and cats living together, basically life on this planet would end as we know it.
Neither the statutes nor the school board policies mandate that a spanking must be administered to a student. No school official is compelled to corporally punish a child. But by allowing corporal punishment, the legislature has recognized the need for such under certain circumstances. Significantly, in giving this discretion to our school systems, the legislature made no requirement that parents must first consent to such punishment. Nor has the legislature provided that parents be allowed to issue a carte blanche prohibition of a school’s exercising its rights under the statutes. To allow parents to unilaterally thwart the legally sanctioned decisions of school officials, could lead to troublesome, if not chaotic, results. There would be nothing to prevent ten, twenty or a hundred parents calling in to request that their child not be spanked. What if these same number of parents requested that no form of punishment whatsoever be administered to their children? The legislature, in its wisdom, chose not to leave the door open for such potentially dire consequences.
For updates on my Corporal Punishment progress and other education issues please go here.
I need people to start calling the Louisiana Department of Education and telling them to release the Corporal Punishment data to requesters and to publish the results.
Here is the link to LDOE’s Corporal Punishment information page. Currently it contains no relevent collected data.
Some Data and reports hosted by LDOE
LDOE Contact Information
- Public Affairs 225.342.3600
- Kim Nesmith Data Quality Director 225.342.1840
- John White State Superintendent of Education firstname.lastname@example.org