Missouri school district reinstates SPANKING as student punishment after several requests from parents
Missouri school district’s policy claims spanking 'shall be used only when all other alternative means of discipline have failed'
CASSVILLE, MISSOURI: Parents can now opt-in to have their children potentially experience 'corporal punishment' in a southwest Missouri school district. Cassville R-IV School District Superintendent Merlyn Johnson, 47, claimed parents asked to bring back corporal punishment and that their children be spanked with a wooden paddle. The students were notified of a new policy approved by the school board in June that reinstated spanking as a disciplinary measure. The parents have allegedly made these requests over suspension and asked the school to look into it.
Cassville R-IV School District, located near the Arkansas border, defines the policy of corporal punishment as “the use of physical force as a method of correcting student behavior.” The decades-old policy went into effect in June and it is an opt-in-only policy, allowing parents to decide if their child can be hit at school. Johnson said the punishment will only be used as a last resort and it will not inflict bodily harm or injury to children. Younger students could receive one to two spanks, while older children could receive up to three. Johnson, Cassville school superintendent, said "the disciplinary punishment will be carried out using a paddle."
The school district’s policy claims spanking “shall be used only when all other alternative means of discipline have failed, and then only in reasonable form and upon the recommendation of the principal.” Other students are forbidden from witnessing a peer being punished. Spanking a student must be done in a way that uses “reasonable physical force” and guarantees “no chance of bodily injury or harm,” as per the policy. The guidelines for “reasonable physical force” are unclear, though striking a student on the head or face is not allowed. All instances of corporal punishment in the school district must be reported to the superintendent. The decision to reinstate the highly controversial disciplinary action came as a result of an anonymous survey. In the survey, student behavioral issues were reportedly identified as a high concern. “We started generating ideas on what we could do and corporal punishment was one of the ideas.”
In an August 2022 letter to parents, Johnson explained that the policy change was simply to give principals one more disciplinary option before students receive more serious punishment, such as expulsion. Parents can choose to opt-in or opt out of having their children experience corporal punishment through a permission form that was distributed to families. Johnson did not know yet how many parents have allowed their children to be paddled. He did, however, claim many parents have asked for paddling to be brought back. “We’ve had people actually thank us for it,” Johnson told Springfield News-Leader. Corporal punishment has not been used in the Cassville school district since 2001, the outlet reported. In 1977, the US Supreme Court decision Ingraham v Wright declared the use of corporal punishment in schools a state-decided issue.
“My plan, when I came to Cassville, wasn’t to be known as the guy who brought corporal punishment back to Cassville,” Johnson said “I didn’t want that to be my legacy and I still don’t. But it is something that has happened on my watch and I’m ok with it.” In Canada, because the Supreme Court banned corporal punishment of students in 2004 paddling and spanking children in schools is illegal throughout the country. Corporal punishment is still legal in 19 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming. The UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child has called for the practice to be banned worldwide.