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Video clips: USA 2005


With comments by C. Farrell

United States - School paddling - Two TV news clips (2005)

CLIP 1 OF 2 -- "Paddling Probe":

2½-minute local TV news segment from WRAL-TV, Raleigh, N. Carolina (10 October 2005), about the paddling of a 7th-grade student at Rowland Middle School in Robeson County, NC. The punishment was for acting up in the hallway.

The boy's mother is seen complaining that he had bruises on his bottom when he came home. The reporter describes these in the clip as "too graphic for television".

Pictures of two of the school's paddles are shown.

Board of Education officials refused to be interviewed on camera but said the punishment was carried out within the guidelines. Prosecutors agreed, and would not file charges.

The mother, assisted inevitably by the ubiquitous anti-CP agitator Peggy Dean (also interviewed in the clip), wants the rules changed.

A news presenter then shows a map of the USA with the different states color-coded according to whether school CP is banned.

For WRAL's text version of this story, see 10 October 2005, "Paddled Student's Mother Wants Corporal Punishment In Schools Banned".

Two days later, the Robesonian of Lumberton followed the story up under the headline "Board scolded on spanking", naming the teacher and revealing that the paddling had actually taken place on 12 September and consisted of five licks, which would seem to be rather more than the current norm for a 12-year-old.

Peggy Dean and the boy's mother had addressed the School Board. Later that week, a moratorium on CP was imposed pending a review. Corporal punishment was reinstated two weeks later but with stricter instructions to principals, including a requirement that parental consent be obtained (the original press coverage, and this TV news clip, do not say whether this had been done in the case at issue).


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CLIP 2 OF 2 -- "Paddling as Punishment":

Paddled boyHere is a 2½-minute local TV news clip from KTRK-TV Houston, Texas, broadcast in November 2005. This is also about a paddled student and his complaining mother.

The student, aged 14, was punished at Cleveland Middle School for trying to sneak out of school early.

The Mother's gabbling diction and strong regional accent make her remarks hard to follow, but the gist of the complaint is that she had informed the school that she did not want her son paddled, but they did it anyway.

She delivers herself of the view that only parents have the right to administer CP, not anyone else.

In fact, under Texas law she is mistaken about that. Schools at that time had the right to paddle without seeking parental permission.

Jakob describes his paddlingNevertheless, it does seem extremely short-sighted in practice for the school authorities to take no notice when a parent asks that CP not be used. The immediate result is likely to be bad publicity for the school, of which this news item is arguably an example. The wider effect may be to place ammunition in the hands of those who wish to see corporal punishment abolished altogether.

The boy himself speaks briefly, stating, in a slightly indignant tone of voice, that the paddling hurt a lot -- perhaps missing the point that that is the whole idea.

Allegedly his bottom went on hurting so much that he had to be sent to a doctor. This could well be an over-reaction to a bit of temporary pain, all too typical (in my view) of today's over-protective mothers. There's no mention of the boy's father, if any, in all of this.

On the other hand, a rival take on the story in a local newspaper has the woman saying that the paddle landed on the boy's lower back. This isn't mentioned in either the TV clip or KTRK's online text version of the story, but if true it casts the whole affair in a quite different light. If this claim is correct, the coach who administered the punishment should be urgently trained in how to do it properly. There is really no excuse for that kind of ineptitude. Students should be entitled to assume that if they take a paddling it will be delivered carefully and accurately.

To her credit, at least this particular mother isn't saying that the boy didn't do anything wrong, and she did accept that he deserved to be punished, according to the TV voiceover commentary.


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