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Spanking a Controversial Issue among Parents and Paddling Still - KOAM TV 7

Spanking a Controversial Issue among Parents and Paddling Still Allowed in Some Schools

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To spank or not to spank. To spank or not to spank.
 It's a parent's legal right to discipline a child.  And some do that with spanking.

But parents can take corporal punishment too far.

Andrea Huckabay is a mother of four.  She uses time out but also  believes in spanking.

She says, “I make sure that I sit down,  take them to a separate room. I explain to them why I'm spanking them and that I love them. And  that I'm doing it cause God told me to help teach you to obey. And then I spank them  and then we resolve it.  We hug. We say sorry, all that stuff and we're fine.”

everyone has an opinion on spanking many  based on our own childhood.

Shawn  Breiner, formerly of Pittsburg says, “We use it. It's a good idea. It didn't ruin us. Time out wasn't. It was  grab a branch off the tree.”

Huckabay and others say you can't spank in anger.

So what is the line that has to be drawn between discipline and abuse?

Sgt. Bob Higginbotham with the Joplin Police Departments Investigations unit says, “It's almost all gray area when it comes to corporal discipline,  corporal punishment  for your children.  The line is, is there an immediate need for intervention to protect the child from injury?    

That's the line. That line is very clear but  again a judgment  thing.  But when you start seeing welts, bruises these kinds of things,  then you're probably at that  threshold where we need some intervention or at least some training.” 

The Children's Center in Joplin reports one hundred seventy cases of physical abuse  in 2014.  Some of  those  have to do with spanking. Typically the cases they see are when children have been spanked with something other than a hand.

Vickie Dudley the executive director of  Children's Center says that can include, “..an electrical cord or a belt or a hair brush or you know a wooden paddle or ruler. Something that's leaving marks.

What we look for is patterned  bruising where there's different stages of healing.”

Melissa Smith with the Ozark Center's Will's Place says it's less about punishing and more about teaching moments for children.

Smith says   say discipline done in anger can become abuse.

 So  parents  should   avoid  losing their  tempers,  give  children expectations when going out, don't take age appropriate behaviors personally and offer  praise rather than threats.

Smith says, “Try to stay away from the no , dont stop and quit.

And instead  use  when then statements. When you can sit nice in the  chair , when you can  sit nice in the cart ,then we can keep going.”

 Huckabay  who spanks mainly between the ages of two and four for disobedience  says discipline changes  with age. She says, “Because when they're older you can take a privilege away and sometimes that's more effective.

Huckabay does not think she could trust a school  official to spank her child in the same manner she does.

Both Webb City, Missouri  and Commerce, Oklahoma school districts allow for corporal punishment. Superintendents say it is a discipline option that requires authorization from parents.

Webb city superintendent Tony Rosetti says, "We don't encourage it.  We don't even recommend it.  But it is a choice, and if our  parents so choose to they can take advantage of that opportunity."

Swats  happen behind closed doors in the principal's office and are done with a paddle.  Rosetti says, "We have reasonable people. We've got protocol.  You have to have a witness there. No teacher is allowed to do that. It has to be done by an administrator,  so we want protections there as well."

Protections against being sued. The primary reason Joplin schools choose not to use corporal punishment.

Executive Director of Elementary Education, Jennifer Doshier says,  "You want to make sure we're safe with what we choose to do,  and the choices we make with our discipline policy keeps us from entering into possibility that someone could state that we went too far."

Commerce Oklahoma's superintendent says  corporal punishment is used more than  once a month as a discipline option.

Jim Haynes says, "A lot of times it's an option between  suspension out of school and paddling so  and a lot of times we like for the students to be in school better to be here then out of  schools."

Students in Webb City says many like the option of swats but doubt their effectiveness.

Kaydan Knight, a junior says,  "If I had a choice of  going to detention or swats, I would much rather  have the swats just to get it over with."

 The district only allows  swats two or three times  per semester

so students eventually  get detention .

Sarah Koester says she received swats and while they stung a little, it did more to hurt her pride.  She says  "Detention kind of stopped me from  getting tardy again cause I didn't want to be  in a three  hour detention."

The district and student's agree corporal punishment isn't going to solve student's repeated  behavior issues.

Rosett says, "If they choose not to go to thRosettintion but choose the  other alternative and stop the behavior that got them there in the first place, then that would probably be viewed as effective.  But to  continually do that, that's not effective. And we wouldn't recommend  continued corporal punishment with any child."

Andrew McGowan, a junior says  "If someone is in a fight and you're discipline is  hitting someone,  how do  you teach someone not to be violent by being violent i my question?   So I really, think it's really outdated discipline and  you really are just a product of your own environment. You're gonna do what others have done to you."

Other  schools  in the area still allow paddling while some say it's rarely used.  

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