You are an adult.
A man walks up to you, seemingly in a hurry, and begins to bombard you with questions you clearly do not have the time or ability to answer. Thoughtlessly, you snap at him.
“I’m not in charge, go pester someone else,” you say. You regret it immediately, but the man’s arm has already drawn back, ready to strike. Before he’s even touched you, guards rush in and escort him out of the building. You are safe.
Now, you are a child.
A teacher walks up to you, exasperated, and repeats for the third time a question you’re too scared to admit you still don’t know the answer to. Thoughtlessly, you snap at him.
“I don’t know, leave me alone!” you exclaim. You regret it immediately, but before you’ve even looked up, a wooden paddle has already whipped your wrist bright red. You cry out. It stings. You know not to say another word.
The startling injustice of corporal punishment used in schools is perhaps most apparent in the above comparison.
Why is it illegal to hit adults, but alright to hit our most vulnerable? Is the line between discipline and abuse really so blurry? Apparently so.
Recently, Three Rivers, Texas approved paddling to be used in schools in their district. The age old punishment has never been nationally disallowed, and neither has the usage of corporal punishment in general.
So while this may seem jarring to American citizens, especially those who live in progressive states, it is worth knowing that only 27 US states have any laws prohibiting it.
And that is insanely dangerous.
Physical punishment has time and time again been proven to be ineffective, harmful, dangerous and even discriminatory — and there is overwhelming scientific evidence of it.
Fear stops bad behavior in its tracks in the short term, but what about the long term? Research revealed the punishment doesn’t mitigate violent or harmful behavior — in fact, it heightens it.
Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, alcohol and drug dependency — all of it has been linked to the administration of physical consequences through childhood.
And the worst part? Corporal punishment encourages corporal punishment to keep happening. That is, it kicks off a cycle of abuse — more crippling health problems for the next generation, and the generation after that.
So the paddle not only cracks down on these kids’ wrists, but also their self esteem, their health, and their likelihood to succeed.
And Black kids are twice as likely to get it.
And yet, adults and parents of all sorts seem quicker than ever to defend it. “I’ve gotten hit, and look at me, I turned out fine!” say the comments on Facebook and Twitter whenever a new article is released.
Yes, you may have turned out fine. But saying so is like saying nobody is allergic to peanuts, because you’ve eaten them, and nothing has ever happened to you.
And in that metaphor, I am allergic to peanuts. I, and countless others. We have lost count of the times we’ve taken the long way home to avoid a spanking for our latest report cards.
We have lost count of the times we’ve cried because we just didn’t understand that math problem, and knew we’d have to pay a price.
And above all, we have lost count of all the times people have told us it was perfectly normal.
Because there is nothing on this Earth more dangerous than normalization. There is nothing more dangerous than saying, “It’s okay to do it, because it’s always been around.”
Racism has always been around. Sexism has always been around. Rape has always been around, murder has always been around.
Every vile aspect of society has, indeed, always been around. And that should never mean we ought to throw our hands in the air and accept it.
Right now is the time for a social revolution, now more than ever, and corporal punishment is an issue that has been waiting on the sidelines for far too long.
So please, readers, do not stay quiet any longer. Please, be the voice these children do not have.
Fight so that I, an eighteen-year-old who has only just graduated high school, may one day teach a class of wide-eyed, happy students, finally safe in the rights they have so long been refused.