click to enlarge Chicken-Fried News: OK paddling
Ingvard Ashby

Despite being a symbol for fraternities, sororities and the (illegal) practice of hazing, some Oklahoma students are exposed to a paddle much, much earlier. The practice of corporal punishment, with or without a paddle, is still allowed in 19 states, and to the surprise of no one, Oklahoma is one of those states. Since 2011, when New Mexico banned corporal punishment, no other state has followed suit.

Educators in some Oklahoma schools say swatting kids with a paddle is a way to “keep kids in line when other forms of punishment fail,” and they say many times, parents ask them to do so.

“We have twice as many requests for us to swat as we actually swat,” Inola superintendent Kent Holbrook told KTUL. “Most of the kids my age, as we grew up, we probably mostly all were swatted, and most everyone I knew came out okay.”

Holbrook told KTUL the district has written permission from parents to swat, paddle or spank their kids. He said they only do so to one or two kids a month in elementary school and even more sparingly in middle and high schools — probably because they’ve been paddled into well-behaved students by that point.

Inola police chief Brad Craig supports paddling, saying kids won’t learn if they’re not in a good “learning environment, discipline environment.”

“They talk about how low our scores are. Does anybody think that might be part of the problem?” he said.

The reason we have some of the worst educational outcomes in the country is because we’re not hitting our kids enough? Wow! Here we thought it was because of low funding, poor teacher pay and state leaders generally not viewing education as a priority for years, leading to qualified teachers leaving in droves for states with better school systems. 

It’s interesting Craig compares low educational scores to not being punished corporally because eight of the 19 states that haven’t banned this are commonly in the Top 10 lists for worst education systems (New Mexico, Louisiana, Arizona and Alabama, among others).

State Rep. John Waldron told KTUL that corporal punishment presents a cycle of behavior that reinforces high negative state statistics like murder rates and adverse childhood experiences. But that can’t be true, right? Those bad statistics are 100 percent because videogames and rock music are so violent nowadays, not because we’re letting authority figures hit children with paddles.

Oh, wait.

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