Friday, May 3, 2013

"Spare the Paddle?" Not for These Female Teachers!

No automatic alt text available.
The tendency to accept corporal punishment as a behavioral "solution" in schools, in these United States, is nothing short of appalling. I myself hadn't been aware of the extent of paddling, for example, until attending the American Atheists Convention in Orlando, in April of 2001, which featured Jordan Riak as one of the keynote speakers. Riak is a retired teacher and activist against corporal punishment. He has unabashedly compared paddling to rape and been a consistent thorn in the side of paddlers across the nation. A print interview with Mr. Riak can be read at the link below


A Youtube interview with Riak (starts 4:53 into the video)  can be viewed here:


An essay by Riak which follows closely the talk he delivered at the American Atheists Convention is found here:


Imagine my shock and suprise then when I encountered a Wordpress blog (or rather former blog) :



sponsored by four female teachers in their 20s ('Renee', 'Michelle', 'Jenny' and 'Wendy') each of whom supports use of the paddle at the elementary school level. And not just any old paddle, but one 16" long, by 3 ½”  wide by  ¼"   thick.

See e.g. the account of a "first paddling" by Michelle, administered to a 3rd grader ('Ricky')  here:


Can anyone seriously believe this? Also, that she evidently shed tears after having to deliver three powerful whacks to the kid's backside. (If you believe this to be a walk in the park check out the section in Riak's essay on how such a paddling damages the buttocks).

When my family moved to Miami, Florida in 1956 none of us had ever beheld a paddle before, i.e. used as an implement of discipline. Or a nun administering it, or anyone else. (We attended different parochial schools in Milwaukee). But on entering the 4th grade at Immaculate Conception School, all that changed. Mr. Silivia, our home room teacher,  used a paddle at will and had any kid screaming in pain after three whacks. What kind of paddle did he use? It was a ping pong paddle, barely 8" long. Now, compare that to the 16" long monster "Michelle" used and on a 3rd grader!

The most ridiculous part of it all? The comment of Renee, the former TWP Blog editor (who served as the "witness" in the paddling delivered by Michelle) who wrote:

"Ricky will be a little sore but by lunchtime- he will be back to normal....... and he did not seem to have any ill effects from a well deserved, but rather mild, paddling. I had to reassure Michelle, who looked like she was the one who was paddled."


Oh really? What about the future effects on those kids? Just because the kid isn't screaming bloody murder doesn't mean he was  unaffected. Also, how do you know merely by a superficial look at the kid's face after the swats that he wasn't seriously physically damaged? The thing that blew my mind on reading parts of the 'teacherswhopaddle' wordpress blog was how nonchalant these young women were, and how "progressive" and "moderate" they fancied themselves to be by insisting they only resorted to their 16" long monster as "a last resort" and by all rational standards they were termperate. Huh? Ladies, anyone who applies a 16" long piece of wood to a kid's behind isn't being "moderate" even if it's one swat delivered once per year!

Riak, in his American Atheist Convention address, did allow questions at the end, and one concerned the worry of how many of those poor paddled kids might later mutate into spanking freaks, or 'spankos', i.e. who fetishize paddling or seek it out as a form of adult sexual release. He allowed that a significant number could because - as he noted (also in the essay link above) - the nerve areas directly impacted in a paddling, say, are also involved or near the sexually sensitive regions of the buttocks. Author Tom Johnson, in his essay 'The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children' goes even further, noting:


The sexual nature of the buttocks is explained not only by their proximity to the genitals, but also by their high concentration of nerve endings which lead directly to sexual nerve centers. Hence, the buttocks are a major locus of sexual signal


He insists that for this reason, any kind of spanking or paddling of a child, even three swats - amounts to "sexual violation".

For sure, all of the female paddlers-teachers formerly ensconced at TWP would be outraged at any such suggestion they were deliberately (or accidentally)  inducing sexual feelings in their victims in the course of their paddlings. In different parts of their blog they actually take on those of us they describe as "antis" i.e.

"For those in the “anti” movement who typically are older adults 50ish to 60ish and were physically abused during the times they attended school -WE AT TWP ARE SORRY AND WISHED IT HAD NEVER HAPPENED! We are also sure that Jordan Riak is having a nervous breakdown as he reads this! (Relax, Mr. Riak and take a break if you need to…You can always come back later!)"


They go on to write (Editorial: 2011/01/05):

"Sadly, the mindset of folks like these is stuck in that traumatic past and they see every incident of c.p. as a replay of what happened to them. So, by extension, they see us at TWP not only as defenders of what happened long ago but as the same persons that abused them!

Actually, no. I know absolutely none of you are the same as the nun (Sister Francesca) that caned me in the boys' lavatory (using a 1m pointer) at Immaculate Conception after accusing me of tossing wet paper towels up to stick on the ceiling (actually done by two culprits who left just before she entered). But I do know, am  fairly sure, that what I experienced as instant outrage, humiliation and subjugation, the kids you paddled with your 16-incher also experienced.

But we can be consoled at least by their further words:

"Nothing could be further from the truth! As in our MISSION STATEMENT, we believe that any use of c.p. must be Judicious, Moderate, and Sparing."



Ah yes, "we're going to paddle you using a 16" implement but never mind, we are "judicious, moderate and sparing". I love the last word! Sparing! "So you, kid, will only get three swats from my sixteen incher, as opposed to twenty -three!" The kid is then supposed to appreciate the mercy afforded him and be thankful his butt is only red and swollen for one day as opposed to bruised to the point he needs hospitalization for a week.



But the last comment is especially galling:



"In all of these cases, we would have stopped the abuse had we been there. But we cannot and no one can “go back.” However, for those who were abused -they go back constantly and that is tragic.



To those, we plead to you to get counseling!"





Wow! Get counseling? From a therp? How does that erase the trauma experienced at the time? A better solution, for those of us that were abused, is to find a way to halt current thrashings/ paddlings of today's kids. Because, after all, what are you paddlers teaching by your actions? You're teaching that brute force is the only answer or response  to a class discipline problem.

The good news is that these female teachers, all of whom graduated from schools in the Deep South - which features the majority of paddling states- in red, see map below:

are no longer feeding their blog in terms of rationalizing their "moderate and sparing" paddling practices. The bad news is that in the period since their TWP blog entries ended, dozens more kids have probably met the business end of one or other of the women's 16-inch paddles, to their shame and pain!

No comments: