A Word in Edgewise: “A Hug Or A Hiding? Please Check The Box”


When Leeds, Alabama, mom Wendy Chandler received her daughter’s back-to-school packet in August, she was appalled to discover a form she could sign to allow teachers to administer physical force as a disciplinary aid. The “Corporal Punishment Parental Consent Form” was sent to all Leeds Elementary School parents, further warning that not returning the form would indicate implicit consent. In fact, if parents do not wish their child to be–What: Spanked? Whipped? Stoned?–then they must inform the school principal not once, but annually.

Chandler told the Huffington Post, “I really thought I was seeing things. I had to read it a few times.. I checked off the ‘no’ box, but I realized a lot of kids are going to have the ‘yes’ box checked off.”

After checking an emphatic “No,” she wrote, “I can not imagine how it would ever be OK to show violence towards anyone. Hitting a child is beyond disgraceful. Anyone who could hit a child should be put in jail.”

Quoting the Center for Effective Discipline, (CED; www.stophitting.com), The Huffington Post reported that Leeds is one of many school districts in 19 states that allow school administrators to use physical force against students. The article noted that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil rights reported that during the 2005–06 school year, 223,190 school children in the country (including 4.5 percent of Alabama Students, for the third-highest rate in the nation) were disciplined by educators employing physical force.

Punishment, corporal or otherwise, is a complex subject, and not one easily sorted out. My own mother was beaten often and severely, yet she never hit me. My dad gave me a switching–once–after telling me what he was going to do and why. It was effective; but they would never have allowed another person to touch me.

And speaking of touching: is it not ironic that a teacher is allowed to strike your child, while a comforting hug or pat might get that same teacher fired?

Chandler concluded by saying, “I really don’t know what I’m doing, I’m just trying to change the rules. My immediate concern is for all those other kids [whose parents checked yes] because those children are my child’s future colleagues and neighbors.”

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