While I’m definitely in the minority (20% of Americans) in that I don’t believe in spanking my own child as an efficient form of discipline, I think it has become a collectively weird thought for us as American parents to consider that not that long ago, students were still being spanked (with paddles!) in the public school system.
I managed to make it all the way through 13 years of public school (that includes Kindergarten, obviously) with only getting one paddling.
I had just turned 14; it was at the end of my 8th grade year, 20 years ago: May 1995.
It was a Friday at the end of gym class, during a “free play” day. A bunch of my friends were running towards the wall, then jumping as high as they could, to see how high they could press our feet on the wall.
The wall was built of concrete cinder blocks, so we could easily measure how high we jumped by the grout in between them, using the grout lines to measure the height of where our feet hit the wall.
Turns out, I jumped the highest that day. However, no one bothered to tell me that the gym coach had just warned the other guys that the next person he saw jumping on the wall would be paddled…
So the male gym coach took me to the locker room and paddled me 3 times with a wooden paddle, while the girls’ coach witnessed it.
I could sense she felt awkward being there; knowing I was “the good kid” who was playing the scapegoat that day.
When I emerged from the locker room, having just been hit by a wooden plank on my “bum”, all my friends were lined up waiting to give me a high five and cheer me on.
I suppose it was a perfect way to score some “cool points” just in time to prepare for high school.
The paddling was obviously not effective; especially since I wasn’t aware I was breaking the recently established rule until it was too late.
All it really did was make my friends think I was cool. It was like part of an initiation process, apparently.
Isn’t it bizarre to imagine that paddling (spanking) in the public schools was still going on in our lifetime?
These days, something like that could easily be perceived as harassment or abuse. Right?