Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Sid Salter: Is Corporal Punishment Greatest Problem Facing Noxubee County Schools?

State Rep. Carl Mickens of Brooksville is from the northern part of Noxubee County. A former Noxubee County circuit clerk and justice court judge, Mickens is a second-term Democratic lawmaker who is apparently quite popular with his home county’s voters.

Rep. Mickens introduced House Bill 12 during the 2020 regular legislative session, a bill intended to ban corporal punishment or “paddling” in Mississippi public and charter schools and “provide that any (school) employee who violates the corporal punishment prohibition shall be held liable for civil damages suffered by a student as a result of the administration of corporal punishment.”

House Bill 12 is co-sponsored by State Rep. Oscar Denton of Vicksburg and State Rep. Daryl Porter Jr., of Summit, both Democrats.

Corporal punishment is one of those issues that rarely engender ambivalence. People either vigorously support or passionately oppose it. There’s little middle ground.

There are 19 states, including Mississippi, where corporal punishment remains legal: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming. Basically, the South and the lower Midwest allow it. The rest of the country has outlawed it.

The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on the practice in 1977 in the case Ingraham v. Wright. In that case, a 14-year-old boy sent to the principal’s office for failure to obey a teacher. Once there, the boy was ordered to bend over a table and accept a paddling.

The boy told the principal he wasn’t guilty of the teacher’s accusation and refused to submit. At that point, two assistant principals forced the student to submit to the paddling by holding him down on the table. The paddling was so severe that the student suffered a hematoma.

Still, on a 5-4 vote, the nation’s highest court upheld Florida’s corporal punishment policy and ruled that the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment” did not apply to children in the public schools.

The legacy of the Ingraham case in Florida was to place the future of corporal punishment in the hands of state lawmakers.

In Mississippi, as in other states where corporal punishment is legal, individual teachers and school districts – mostly in a nod to the threat and the costs of litigation – have self-regulated the use of corporal punishment and in most cases only implement it after parents have authorized the practice for their children in writing. Some districts implemented outright bans.

State law, however, permits corporal punishment “administered in a reasonable manner, or any reasonable action to maintain control and discipline of students.” In 2019, Mississippi enacted a new law which held that teachers cannot use corporal punishment on any student who has a disability or is on a special education plan.

Call me skeptical, but I rather doubt that an outright ban of corporal punishment as proposed by Rep. Mickens has much of a chance of passage. No disrespect intended, because opposition to corporal punishment is a more than valid point of public discourse and debate, but one wonders if corporal punishment is really the greatest problem facing public education in Noxubee County right now.

In 2018, the Mississippi Commission on School Accreditation and State Board of Education declared an extreme emergency situation existed in the district and asked then-Gov. Phil Bryant to declare a state of emergency. He did.

The decision was the result of an investigative audit conducted by the Mississippi Department of Education which found the NCSD in violation of 81 percent of the state’s accreditation standards. The state took over the failing Noxubee schools and the district remains in that status this year as well.

With teacher pay, infrastructure needs, and other issues facing legislators this session, the corporal punishment issue is almost certain to get lost in the legislative push to improve the odds for students who aren’t being paddled, but who are struggling to learn.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

Only a psychopath would think that using violence against children is an acceptable form of discipline.

Anonymous said...

When I was a child my parents used the Holy Bible to justify using violent punishment. They did this because they didn't have the intelligence to figure out any alternatives to hitting.

That is why today I am a Militant Athiest Xtians are obsessed with taking away women's right to choice. And then they beat their own children.

Anonymous said...

Of course paddling will ultimately be banned completely. After all it works and when you deal with the growing child dysfunction coming into our schools it's sometimes the only thing that works. If applied to children only when necessary and within reasonable limits it is another tool our teachers need to control their classrooms. All children do not come from functional homes and will not readily respect authority. They will respect pain. It should not be the first resort or taken lightly, but it should be available when needed. The imposition of discipline will save far more children than it will injure. But of course it will ultimately be banned completely.

Anonymous said...

In the school district where I worked parents were given a choice of what happened when their precious snowflakes seriously acted out. They could either agree to allowing corporal punishment or they could agree to pick their kids up for a remainder-of-the-day suspension. For some reason, probably bad parenting to begin with, the kids whose parents did not agree to paddling acted out much more often. After a couple of times being called out of work to pick up little Johnny for calling the teacher a biotch the parents would generally agree to paddling going forward and things settled down.

Of course there are some bad apples who will act out no matter how much punishment the receive, but that's what the alternative education system is for.

Anonymous said...

Fully funding education and private school grants are a bigger problem.

Anonymous said...

"but one wonders if corporal punishment is really the greatest problem facing public education"

No I'm sure it isn't, but if we wait until all the big problems are solved the issue of corporal punishment will never be addressed. That's like telling your police department that until they stop all the murders then they will no longer be issuing driving citations. You can't start at the top and work your way down in importance. If you do, you will never address any of the other issues.

Anonymous said...

A good ass-whipping never hurt any kid. Yes, there are exceptions like the one in FL that Sid mentioned in his column, but by in large it is a useful tool that is slowly being phased out of the public schools. My children have never had behavioral problems at school (because we raised them right at home!), but as soon as my oldest graduates from a public school next year, I will be forever done with the public school system. My youngest attends a private school, and in hindsight, I should have sent them both to private schools from day one. Most private schools here in MS still wear asses out if and when needed, and I'm grateful for it.

Anonymous said...

School systems need something to deal with the little darlings, since many parents refuse to help with any discipline.

Maybe electrical shock. Just a little 110 volt zap, applied for maybe 5 seconds to the bottom of the feet. Quick, effective and no lasting damage (or at least no well-documented proof). I guess we could open a new prison system for elementary - high school age students to store the little kids away until they either learn how to behave or become eligible for the county farm.

Kingfish - we need a sarcasm indicator.

Anonymous said...

If you spend any amount of time around a large group of kids under 18 these days and it will become abundantly clear that the problem is not enough corporal punishment.

Anonymous said...

If an adult is disrespectful or even slightly belligerent within any government outlet, office, DMV station, etc. they will be escorted out quickly and possibly charged by law enforcement. The same should apply especially to any "child" of any age in a public, "government" school. They abused their privilege, so now they don't have it. Next. If the parent come to the school and raise a stink....escort them out, or charge them depending on their defiance.

Anonymous said...

There are many guilty parties to this issue. The genesis is the parents. There was another related issue on this board dealing with day cares. There are far too many people having children unwilling to accept the responsibility of properly rearing them.DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN IF YOU ARE UNABLE/UNWILLING TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR WELL BEING!!! Be thoughtful on who you marry. Don’t get a divorce at the first sign of problems. Pray with & for your children. Take them to church. Be careful with whom your children associate.
Teachers, you are very restricted in your actions with this crazy politically correct society that wants to sue you at every turn. The English system would work well here; i.e. plaintiff pays if/when he loses. Teachers, pray for your students & try to use innovative means to interest & excite them. Reward good behavior & performance in unique ways.
I know I don’t have the patience to be a teacher or a coach. I wish there was a way we could pay for performance & remove distractors. I still remember my 6th grade English teachers saying:
Good, better, best.
Never let them rest,
Until the good becomes the better,&
The better becomes the best

Anonymous said...

Why are school kids all of a sudden different today than those who came through the schools 250 years before them? The 'rod-of-correction' has been around a long time.

Seemed to work and be understood very well up through the 60/70's when I was last there. And, yes I got 'dusted' more than a few times. AND because the school had to notify parents, I'd get it again when I got home.

Lived and learned.

Anonymous said...

It ain’t nothing wrong with the kids these days, it’s the sorry ass parents!

Anonymous said...

The problem with education today is at the level of people who employ people like Sid Salter.

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