Paddling in Schools Still Alive and Well in Georgia

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By: Eames Yates

Corporal punishment is still alive and well in Georgia. In fact it's going on in a majority of the state's counties.

Wes Taylor, Lowndes County School Superintendent, states, "the reality is that for teaching and learning to occur there must be order."

But how? And at what cost? Despite the fact that it's still legal, corporal punishment, or paddling,in Valdosta Schools ended in 1996. More than a hundred out of the hundred and fifty nine counties in Georgia still use paddling as punishment for misbehaving in school. For those that have been on the wrong end of the wood, memories are still fresh.

Jennifer Steedley, Lowndes County Mother: "the teacher said if you don't remember to carry your zero you're going to get a swat. And I was so nervous about carrying that zero that I absolutely forgot. And right there in front of the class I got my swat. But I can promise you that I never forgot to carry that zero ever again."

No one incident led to the end of corporal punishment in Valdosta... So what did it? School officials say the times are a changing.

Wes Taylor, Lowndes County School Superintendent, adds, "I think also that we've become such a litigious society. That most school administrators that I know of have not used corporal punishment in public schools in many many years."

Reporter: "I mean they don't want to get sued?"

Taylor: "exactly."

Valdosta School Superintendent Bill Cason practiced paddling for 16 years as a principal in Georgia. He also thinks it stopped in Lowndes because schools wanted to avoid getting sued. But the experience of being the paddler revealed a different reason.

Bill Cason, Valdosta School Superintendent, stated, "we typically ended up paddling the same children over and over again. And almost to the point at times it seemed that some of the kids used it as a badge of honor. I'm tough, I can take whatever licks this principal or assistant principle gives me and go back into the classroom smiling."

During the 2010-2011 school year there was nearly twenty two thousand incidents of corporal punishment in schools across the state. They included paddling, spanking and hitting children.

Corporal punishment is also still legal in twenty two states, including Florida.

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