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SVM Editorial Board Roundtable: Do you approve or disapprove of corporal punishment in schools?

An Arkansas high school administered corporal punishment (two swats on the rear) to a student who participated in the March 14 protest against school shootings. Do you approve or disapprove of corporal punishment in schools?

Question of the week: An Arkansas high school administered corporal punishment (two swats on the rear) to a student who participated in the March 14 protest against school shootings. Do you approve or disapprove of corporal punishment in schools?

 

Kathleen Schultz, SVM news editor

This is the kind of behavior that makes some states the never-ending butt of how-stupid-can-you-be jokes – but it's not just Arkansas: 21 other states also still allow corporal punishment of children.

Setting aside the message it sends students that a school – the place where youth are supposed to be exposed to ideas that will inform their participation as critical thinkers and citizens in our democracy – a school won't tolerate participation in a 17-minute protest designed to affect social change, you know, kinda the bedrock on which said democracy was built ...

OK, never mind, my brain is sputtering; I can't set that aside. And Arkansas can't be blamed for that breach of intellect, that happened everywhere.

To punish a child for participating in a protest against one form of violence by using another form of violence is antediluvian. It's obscene and it's just plain mean.

For crying out loud, when is it ever OK to make a point by hitting someone?

Peter Shaw, Shaw Media trustee, corporate strategy coordinator

There are several major things wrong in that story, but let’s stick to the question for now.

Without a doubt, any type of corporal punishment has no place at any school level. When I was young, some private schools still practiced doling out physical punishments like spanking for infractions, and when my parents were young, it was still practiced in some public schools.

Just because something used to happen, does not make it right, nor does it excuse its ongoing practice. Physical punishment does not teach students. Demonstrating conflict resolution and following through with cause-and-effect, however, actually do.

Beyond the negative impact hitting, spanking, swatting or whatever you want to label it has on a student, it is undue burden on any educator to ask them to decide when physical abuse should be administered.

Corporal punishment should never be an option for a student to choose or an educator to offer.

Jennifer Heintzelman, SVM advertising director

I asked a group of friends this question earlier this week. I will share my takeaway from the conversation: "If the parents knew this was an option of punishment, then it was OK." "Absolutely not; nobody hits my kid." "Kids need more discipline like this." "The only one to hit one of my kids will be my husband." "Absolutely not, my high school kids should know better." "This kind of discipline should not be done to older kids".

My favorite was a friend who still recalled the Sister who cracked his knuckles when he least expected it, and the memories still haunt him.

My answer is simply this: I believe corporal punishment has no place in schools. The children knew that a walkout was not allowed by the administration; they clearly did not respect that rule, and a punishment should have been given.

The idea that violence was used against a child who was protesting violence in the first place doesn't bode well with me. I'm surprised to find out that this type of punishment is still going on in 19 states.

So there it is, a mixed bag. Several of the friends I had asked recalled punishments similar to this when they went to school. We all agreed that children need to have respect for rules, which is what this incident started from.

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