The idea of corporal punishment in schools may seem like something out of another era and one of the most controversial methods of child discipline, but spanking or paddling in school - usually with a wooden or fiberglass paddle - is still allowed by law in 19 states. The practice is most prevalent in the Midwest and South.
For Marion Co. Schools in Florida, the practice was in place years ago, but was discontinued in 2010 after concerns parents might raise lawsuits against the district. Now with a new board member ready to begin, the "punishment by a paddle" may be back up for vote.
Incoming school board member Carol Ely administered corporal punishment while she was an elementary school principal for 14 years. She said it worked, and she wants to bring it back. She saw firsthand that paddling was more effective than other forms of punishment, like suspension.
"The return rate of children for corporal punishment has been almost zero," she said.
If the Marion County School Board brings the paddling initiative up for a vote this fall, Ely said it would only be used as a last resort with parent permission.
Coming from someone who was definitely spanked as a child, my mom would have probably been a proponent of someone else paddling me if I truly deserved it. She wanted punishments doled out if I misbehaved so I would learn for the next time. However, my mom shudders today at the thought and memories of spanking me and my siblings and she can't fathom anyone (including me) spanking or paddling my children.
It's easy to say "times have changed." But to really explain what goes behind this change is way more complex. So to answer whether or not paddling could be effective or widely accepted as a form of punishment could easily make up one of the most complicated and heated debates.