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Texas school district approves paddling for misbehaving students

A South Texas school district passed a policy to allow corporal punishment for students who misbehave or fail to follow classroom rules. (Duane Prokop/Getty Images for Feeding America)

Officials in a South Texas school district have approved an old-school method of discipline for misbehaving students: Paddling.

The Three Rivers Independent School District administrators approved the paddling policy Tuesday, which allows either the principal or the campus’ behavior coordinator to administer corporal punishment for misbehaving students, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported.

Corporal punishment is defined as “deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping or any other physical force used as a means of discipline,” according to the Texas Classroom Teachers Association.

The district voted 6-0 in favor of paddling, with one trustee absent. Three Rivers students, whose parents have provided written or verbal consent, will receive one paddling for his or her infraction after misbehaving in the classroom.

Parents have the opportunity to opt out of the corporal punishment at the start of the school year.

“If the parent is not comfortable with it, that’s the end of the discussion,” Three Rivers ISD Superintendent Mary Springs said.

Corporal punishment is, of course, legal in the Lone Star State. TCTA’s website said the school districts can use corporal punishment as long as it is approved by the board of trustees and parents.

The newly approved policy at the Three Rivers ISD will likely begin at the start of the 2017-2018 school year, KHOU-TV reported.

Currently, corporal punishment is legal in 19 states. In November 2016, then-Education Secretary John B. King Jr. sent a letter to state leaders, urging them to end the use of physical discipline in schools because the practice is linked to harmful short- and long-term outcomes for students.

King wrote that students subjected to corporal punishment can become “more aggressive, defiant, and oppositional” and can “develop mental health issues, including alcohol and drug abuse or dependence, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and other personality disorders,” later in life.

But Andrew Amaro, the Three Rivers ISD campus behavior coordinator who remembers being paddled when he was a student in the same district, sees the issue much differently. He believes corporal punishment will be more effective than in school suspension and detention.

“I believe it worked,” he said. “It was an immediate response for me. I knew that if I got in trouble with a teacher and I was disrespectful, whatever the infraction was, I knew I was going to get a swat by the principal.”

Amaro said students, whose parents have OK’d the practice, will be paddled for minor infractions, such as disobeying teachers’ requests or not following established classroom rules.

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