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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Getting paddled

Sometimes, I wonder if the year is really 2010, or if it is actually 1910.
Let's play a fun game. Try to guess how many states allow corporal punishment as a form of discipline in schools. One? Two?
Try 20.
I'm sorry, but that figure boggles my mind. It also boggles the mind of Erica DeRamus.
DeRamus, a senior at Oxford High School in Oxford, Ala., picked out the prom dress of her dreams for her senior prom – a seafoam green dress – and headed to the event with excitement building. But the excitement was short-lived after she was kicked out of the prom and, later the following week, was punished for her outfit.
Officials said that DeRamus's outfit was too low-cut and too short, which broke the rules of the school's dress code. The dress code stipulates that necklines must be above a student's breastbone and skirt hems cannot be higher than six inches above the knee.
While she disagrees that she broke the rules, after seeing images of the dress, I can understand their issues. But I cannot understand their options for punishment.
According to WBRC-TV, 18 students that broke the rules were given two options of punishment – a three-day suspension that would affect their chances of getting into college, or a period of paddling.
That's right. They beat them with a piece of wood.
Surprisingly, DeRamus was the only student to take the three-day suspension, while her other 17 classmates decided to taste some splinters.
"I'm a little too old to get paddled … This is high school, we're seniors," DeRamus told WBRC. "If we're going to act up, give us another option besides being paddled, because this isn't the 1940s. We don't take corporal punishment now."
And she's right. What gives school officials the power to physically assault children when many parents are told not to? Why should anyone even have that right? We're human. Physical violence and physical punishment don't do a thing except harm people emotionally and mentally, in addition to leaving some ugly welts and marks.
According to the American Psychological Association, corporal punishment in any institution where children are cared for or educated should not be allowed for a variety of reasons. The association says that it is violent and unnecessary, may lower self-esteem and instills hostility and rage without reducing the behavior that caused the punishment. Furthermore, corporal punishment is likely to train children to use physical violence.
And people wonder why there are those of us who see no problem hurting someone. Those people are probably from Alabama.
We've put a man on the moon. We have technology that can replicate the Big Bang. I can speak to someone across the world instantly with the click of the button, but there are school districts in America that see no issue in physically attacking children for minor reasons?
Land of the free and home of the beaten.

E-mail: stephen.marth@ubspectrum.com


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