In a move that has surprised and shocked many, a Georgia school recently reinstated paddling as a form of discipline for their students.
The Georgia School for Innovation and the Classics, a charter school for kindergarten to grande 9 recently made headlines after it was revealed that they sent home consent forms to parents to allow them to use paddling as a disciplinary measure. Superintendent Jody Boulineau to local news station WRDW that he has received a little over 100 consent forms back, with about a third of them giving the school consent to use the paddle.
"In this school, we take discipline very seriously,” Boulineau told the station. "There was a time where corporal punishment was kind of the norm in school and you didn't have the problems that you have,” the Superintendent said. "It's just one more tool that we have in our disciplinary toolbox that we can use," he added.
Parents at the school received the consent form home informing them of how the paddling will be administered. "A student will be taken into an office behind closed doors. The student will place their hands on their knees or piece of furniture and will be struck on the buttocks with a paddle," the letter read. It also states that “no more than three licks should be given.” The paddle used has to be made of wood and “24 inches in length, six inches in width and 3/4 inches in thickness.”
Boulineau said that the decision on whether the school will use the paddle or not is up to the parents. "There's no obligation, it's not required. A parent can either give consent for us to use that as a disciplinary measure or they can deny consent," he said. However, parents have been informed if they don't consent to extreme disciplinary measure, their child will be suspended for up to five days. So basically parents consent or they're forced to have their child miss a week of school and themselves potentially a week of work.
“What bothers me about that is they really have disincentivized parents,” Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a parenting expert, told TODAY. “Allows us to paddle your child … or your child is going to have to miss a week of school and you are going to miss a week of work.”
The superintendent explained that he has heard a variety of reactions to the school's controversial policy. "I've heard 'great, it's about time, 'we're so glad that this is happening again, they should've never taken it out of schools'. All the way to 'oh my goodness I can't believe you are doing that'." He also stated that he felt the simple threat of corporal punishment will probably be enough of a deterrent to bad behaviour.
"I honestly feel like it's something that's not going to be used very often. Sometimes it's just kind of the threat of it being there becomes a deterrent in itself."
The school says that there will be a "3 strike" policy in place so that a child will receive sufficient warning before the paddling takes place, but many are still disturbed to know that this is even a legal option in 2018.