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Video clips: USA
Student clutching his buttocks a few minutes after paddling
With comments by C. Farrell
1978: "Fly-on-the-wall" TV documentary reports from a paddling school in Pennsylvania
This is a four-minute clip of edited highlights from "The Rod of Correction", a 26-minute NBC News Weekend documentary sequence broadcast in 1978. The TV crew visited a high school in Butler, Pennsylvania, a small industrial town, where assistant principal Ken Musko was running a special and strict "last chance" or "alternative education" program for behavioral backsliders, apparently all boys, with written permission from their parents. This explicitly involved regular paddlings, which the TV team from New York (Producer: Craig Leake) seemed to think an astonishing state of affairs (in 1978!), showing yet again how ill-informed the metropolitan media so often are about what actually happens in Hicksville USA. In reality, of course, school CP was a daily routine in very many US schools in that era.
What we have here is a very rare example of real-life school paddlings being shown on TV. Unfortunately the film was edited in a rather coy way, so that we see the "before and after" as students go in and out of the office but never actually see the students bending over or the paddle landing, but we do hear the whacks on the soundtrack, together with the accompanying dialogue and the gasps of pain. There is no doubt that these paddlings are genuine.
The paddlings take place in the principal's office, with the principal witnessing while Musko does the spanking. All the punishments we hear are of only one or two strokes (which seems mild -- would there have been more if the cameras were not present?), and the modus operandi is "hands on the desk". There was a mass paddling "two or three times a week", with half a dozen or so miscreants all waiting their turn in an outer office and then leaving as a group once all the spankings were completed. In this outer office, secretaries are seen and heard nonchalantly typing away as the chastisements audibly proceed.
Musko interlaces his approach with a refrain of Christianity, complete with biblical quotations about "the rod of correction", which I do not think would be permitted in a public school nowadays. (Where are they now? side note: Having retired from schoolteaching he is now, 35+ years on, preaching a "healing ministry" and doing religious radio shows.)
Interesting scenes caught on the film include one boy who stands in the corridor clutching and rubbing his buttocks a few moments after emerging from the office, and a glimpse through the office window of an older student removing his coat and emptying his back pockets just before bending over. Also, when Musko is interrogating a boy who denies smoking, other students are heard saying "Come on admit it, Paul, it's only worth one whack".
HERE IS THE CLIP:
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