The Short of It
Parents in Tennessee pulled their kids out of school after they were paddled for misbehaving on the bus.
Elizabeth Jackson Ragsdale and her husband Chris transferred their children to another school after they came home crying from being "paddled"—spanked on the butt with a wooden board—for talking and laughing loudly on the bus.
In Tennessee, as in much of the South, public schools have wide leverage for the use of corporal punishment. Tennessee statute dictates that it may be used "in a reasonable manner" to maintain discipline and order "for good cause."
Nevertheless, parents are outraged and think the Covington Integrated Arts Academy administrators crossed the line with the paddling incident, saying corporal punishment combined with suspension from riding the bus for a bunch of fifth- and sixth-graders laughing and speaking loudly is extremely harsh.
"It just feels like everything that my kids told me has resulted in them fearing what's going to happen when they go to school," Elizabeth Ragsdale told WREG. "I feel like they are abusing their privileges up there of being administrators and being over our children."
"Ain't no kid supposed to be treated like that, period," her husband Chris added.
This wasn't the first time the Ragsdales' kids received such punishment. The couple says their oldest son was spanked after getting into a fight with another student at the beginning of the school year.
Ragsdale said she and her husband had asked school administrators to contact them before spanking or paddling their children again, but they didn't. She believes not every situation deserves corporal punishment: "To me that's not right."
Research has shown that being spanked or hit is associated with stress and fear, and kids that go through this kind of trauma have a harder time focusing and learning.
According to the superintendent at Covington Integrated Arts Academy, every parent is given a form at the beginning of the school year listing information about corporal punishment. While the form does not state that a parent has to be contacted first, the superintendent told WREG, that he does plan to look into the incident to make sure the school followed policy.
Do you think the administrators crossed the line?