Missouri school district brings back wooden paddles for punishment
Cassville, Missouri - Just in time for the new school year, a town in Missouri has reintroduced corporal punishment. School authorities said they are merely carrying out parents' wishes by allowing teachers to spank students with wooden paddles.
For the approximately 1,900 students of Barry County school district, the end of the summer holidays just got even rougher, Springfield News-Leader reported.
As of Monday, teachers may punish students with spankings – but only as a last resort and with written permission from their parents or guardians, the school board announced. Parents were sent forms allowing them to opt in or out of the punishments.
Merlyn Johnson, superintendent of the district, describes the small town as a "very traditional community in southwest Missouri." He said he has been approached time and again by parents requesting such a policy.
"My plan, when I came to Cassville, wasn't to be known as the guy who brought corporal punishment back to Cassville. I didn't want that to be my legacy and I still don't," he said. "But it is something that has happened on my watch and I'm OK with it."
The only corporal punishment allowed is "swatting the buttocks with a paddle."
Strict rules apply for paddling, the district says
Corporal punishment is still legal in Missouri, though Johnson said it hasn't been in used in Cassville in two decades.
As the infamous wooden paddles are brought back out again, Johnson said strict rules will apply for their use, with no arbitrary beatings.
Spankings may only take place after a recommendation from the school principal, and there must be a witness present. Younger students may receive one or two blows with the paddle, and older ones up to three. Any spanking must be reported to the superintendent. Slaps to the face and head are not permitted.
Johnson is convinced that corporal punishment offers a number of advantages. For instance, he claimed it acts as a deterrent while also reducing expulsions from class.
The decision has been well received by parents, the superintendent said. "We've had people actually thank us for it," he added.
Cover photo: 123RF/dolgachov