Texas school expanding corporal punishment.

What do places more governed by the ancient tenets of America’s favorite religion look like?

Well, like ancient eras worming their way into this one.

But when two teenage girls there reportedly suffered bruises after being paddled by male assistant principals, some parents complained. They weren’t upset about the punishment itself, but instead that the school violated the policy requiring an educator of the same sex as the student to dole out the paddling.

So the school district has changed its policy – to expand, not abolish, corporal punishment. Board members voted Monday night to let administrators paddle students of the opposite sex, after Superintendent Michael Kelley cited a lack of women administrators to carry out spankings.


The part that really made me depressed for Texas was a mother’s response to her 16 year-old daughters getting spanked.

Cathi Watt, whose daughter was one of the two girls recently paddled, said Tuesday that she’s OK with paddlings in schools “because they need it once in a while, and I got them when I was a kid.” But she said the male administrator used too much force, so she does not support the new policy.

Whoa!  Someone hit your daughter and it left bruises?  It’s like violence hurts or something.

Also, you’re worried that your daughter is being hit too hard, but not that some old male administrator is spanking a 16 year-old girl; your 16 year-old girl?  There’s a reason that videos of male authority figures spanking female teens are classified as pornography, lady.  They’ve actually managed to make beating your daughter even more odious and you didn’t even notice.

At least there are a few people in Texas capable of noticing the obvious.

“It is never OK to hit a child. … Men should not be padding teenage girls, because there is a sexual connotation with teen girls but also with teen boys,” said Jimmy Dunne, president of People Opposed to Paddling Students.

State Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, thinks schools should never spank children, but her bill to abolish corporal punishment in Texas schools never passed. She said the compromised version of her bill, which did become law, was that parents could opt in.

“Parents can choose whether to spank their children at home,” Allen said. “When you send a child to school, it should be a place to be motivated – not a place to be beaten.”

Sadly, they are vastly outnumbered by the people who think “spare the rod” in a book containing the contradictory and morally inept ramblings of ancient people makes beating children a positive for their community.


About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Jessica

    I remember in jr high my mother told me she had given her consent to let the school paddle me if they thought it necessary. I was good at staying out of trouble, so it never happened to me, and I never heard of anyone actually receiving that punishment. I think in our case it was an on-the-books but not enforced kind of things.
    Even then, when I was still pretty religious, I was uncomfortable with the idea. Now I find it even more inappropriate.

  • greg1466

    You hit on the same thing that caught my attention when I saw a video clip about this on CNN. When the mother commented that the the male administrator should not have done the paddling because “men are too big and strong to be hitting 96 pound girls”, my first thought was, so you’re not upset because someone hit your kid, but because they hit them too hard?!? (Time to call Family Services.) Then there is the obvious implication that mean are NOT to big and strong to be hitting 96 pound boys. These people have serious issues.

  • Mikel

    I was paddled once in grade school, for not paying attention in class. We had just had our reading time and I was still absorbed in my book and didn’t know the teacher was talking. That injustice alone is enough to cause me to abhore the idea of paddling kids in school.

  • Ray

    From the mother of one of the girls “Watt said her 16-year-old daughter, Jada, deserved to be spanked after she spoke sarcastically to a teacher and an assistant principal, “but she did not deserve to be bruised.””

    Spoke sarcastically? What would she think was appropriate punishment for a serious offence? Oh wait, they have capital punishment in Texas.

  • John Horstman

    I saw this article – the whole thing is awful in several different ways: men are strong, women aren’t; strongly beating boys is okay, but not girls; the problem is hitting a child TOO HARD, not hitting the child at all; the creepy sexual connotations. It’s a clusterfuck of appalling ethics.

  • John Horstman

    Also, if the principal of my school had tried this on me at 16, I’m quite sure I would have swung the nearest chair into the side of his head at the first opportunity and then called the police to report the assault against me. It undoubtedly would have been an interesting legal battle that resulted.

  • iknklast

    When I went to school, paddling was the norm (yes, I am a baby boomer, thank you for noticing the gray hair). Male principals routinely paddled kids, boys and girls alike, and no one said anything, even if there were bruises. It was just how it was done. I thought we’d moved past that to realize that kids have some rights, too, but maybe in Texas we haven’t.

    I know this is strictly anecdotal, but I did notice something interesting when I was young. Paddling didn’t appear to me to work; it wasn’t a punishment, it was a point of pride. Kids would compare how many “licks” they got, and those of us who never got paddled simply weren’t cool. Deterrent? Not really, at least not for the worst behaved among us, who looked at it much as my students now compare DUIs – respect and admiration for however has the most.

    Maybe someone should point out that beatings are how Muslim men control their women – then maybe they’d rethink? Nah – there are some areas where the religious right foam at the mouth for the right to emulate the usually hated Muslims.

  • UsingReason

    They had a strap in grade school all them years ago and when they tried to use it on my hand I was smart enough to move said hand. The principal strapped his own leg three times before he realized that no matter how many times he told me not to move my hand it was still not going to be there when he swung. Of course my Dad just laughed when they called him, even though he was a spanker he didn’t think it right for them to strap me across the hand for some reason. As iknklast pointed out, this made me a bit of a hero; for getting the principal to hit himself, repeatedly. You cannot spank someone that does not accept the spanking, and I would encourage all Texas students to tell their administrators to go fuck themselves.

  • SimonPure

    Did you mean “tenets” instead of “tenants”?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Yup. Fixing.

    • Stogoe

      He probably meant Tennant, as in David. Happens to me all the time.

  • SimonPure

    The phrase “spare the rod and spoil the child” does not appear in the Bible. It comes from a 17th century poem, “Hudibras”, by Samuel Butler. In the context of the poem it can be read as advocating flagellation for sexual purposes.

    The closest the Bible comes to advocating corporal punishment is Proverbs 13:24, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Which means, I guess, that you can whip your sons but not your daughters.

    • SimonPure

      I must correct myself: there are five other places in Proverbs that mention using a rod to punish a child.

    • Benjamin

      There are more biblical verses than that one that justify corporal punishment:

      Prov 13:24: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes .”
      Prov 19:18: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”
      Prov 22:15: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
      Prov 23:13: “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”
      Prov 23:14: “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.”
      Prov 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”
      Hebrews 12:6-7: “…the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?”

  • cipher

    At least there are a few people in Texas capable of noticing the obvious.

    VERY few. The entire state is unsalvageable. Airlift out the liberals (shouldn’t be more than a planeload or two), then give it back to Mexico.

    Shoot – give ‘em the whole damn South.

  • cipher

    If a teacher or school administrator ever laid a hand on one of my kids, I’d be in jail and s/he would be eating through a straw.

    A parent’s job is to protect a child, not to protect the rights of others to abuse him/her. Of course, I wouldn’t expect the average shit-for-brains Texan to understand this. This is one of the main reasons we need to begin seriously rethinking the matter of who is and isn’t allowed to reproduce.