School paddling cases
Jeff Charles (www.nopaddle.com) Aug. 2003 interview of 13-year-old "Sam" from Texas, paddled 16 times in the previous year.
"I felt embarrassed about it, and I thought paddling was weird. None of my other schools ever paddled kids."
I received a letter from "Holly," a woman I know in Texas telling me about a 13-year-old boy she knew who had been paddled 16 times in the previous year. She wrote, in part:
This boy is being raised by a single mother who had the courage a couple of years ago to send her abusive alcoholic husband packing. He has seven siblings and struggles with low self-esteem as well as the other baggage that goes with having an abusive, alcoholic parent.
When I heard about his paddlings, I was irate. The last thing he needed was to be hit by another adult! He said coaches did most of the paddling. I think that probably happens a lot in small towns in Texas.
I know paddling can be very harmful long term, although a lot of people can't see it. I was never paddled at school, but I watched a boy get paddled in front of my class. He was a happy, outgoing, popular fourth grader, one of those guys with a fun personality and everyone's friend. I swear, he didn't act the same after that paddling. He never again seemed as cheerful. From that day on he was subdued, like a light had somehow gone out inside of him. It was sad. I still remember his name after thirty-five years.
Fortunately this boy is living in our non-paddling school district now. Habitat for Humanity is building his family a new home. That's a great comfort. At least the immediate abuse is over for him, although some negative effects may follow him the rest of his life.
I intend to write a letter to the district that abused this already hurting kid. How many others like him will they assault in this new school year? Its sickening to think about.
By the way, this child's mother never knew about any of the paddlings. When I learned of it, I told her. Not once in all of those 16 incidents did they contact her about her son's conduct, or seek her permission to hit him.
This boy spent last school year living with a nearby family from his church, not with his mother. That's how he ended up in a different school district.
These people were not part of the abuse! They were friends, and they liked him. They thought it might help him do better in school if he got more individual attention at their house. They also wanted to give his overburdened mother a little less to worry about. They never used corporal punishment on him. He and his mother told me that the adults in this family were never informed that he was being paddled at school either.
Holly allowed me to interview the boy--
Jeff: Did you feel humiliated or degraded when you were paddled?
Sam: Yes, especially when I got back to class and my eyes were red from crying.
Jeff: Why didn't you tell your mom about them? Were you too embarrassed? Did you think there was nothing she could do about it anyway and she had enough problems to worry about? Did you fear she would make waves and the other students look down on you because you didn't "take it?"
Sam: I just didn't want to make a big deal out of it. I was living with another family at the time. I just didn't think it was important for her to know. Plus I didn't want to get in more trouble.
Jeff: Did the other boys think taking swats was "macho" or "manly?"
Sam: Yeah, I guess some did. When you got swats, you could sign the paddle, but I didn't sign it.
Jeff: Did you ever get the feeling that any paddlers enjoyed doing it or witnessing it on some level? Did any of them make jokes, or seem to just look for reasons to do it?
Sam: No way. One coach would actually cry every time he had to paddle us. None of them made jokes about it. I don' think they were looking for reasons to paddle, but they did it a lot, like if you were messing around in class and you'd been warned maybe four times. Coaches handled it themselves when you were in athletics. Sometimes you'd get swats for making bad grades.
Holly: I think it's interesting that the system at this school also victimizes a sensitive teacher/coach, who obviously feels that he has to go along with the status quo to keep his job.
Jeff: The first thing I thought of when I heard of the crying paddler was a homosexual pedophile minister in the Christian church I grew up in who would cry very easily and loved to "work with boys," who he secretly molested all of his life. I'm not saying the coach was a homosexual or pedophile or anything, but he sounds to me like he had some kind of deep issues associated with paddling and reliving it now as the "giver."
His crying when he "had to paddle" is just plain WIERD to me. No-one put a gun to that guy's head to "make him" paddle those boys, even if it was allowed. He paddled because he chose to paddle.
About half of the people that are "into" spanking and paddling kids are the joking types, ("you'll be taking home some reminders, ha ha ha) and the other half are, like the "Minister," the overly solemn, involved, religious types. Many of them mask their enjoyment of paddling by playing up the very opposite reaction.
Holly: Yikes! I felt sure this guy probably had some issues too, related to being spanked or paddled himself. I just didn't quite know what to make of it. I wonder if he's moved on to another non-paddling school (indicating that he really didn't like to do it) or if he's still emotionally carrying on his "grim duty." I know that Sam seemed sympathetic to him, like the guy didn't have any choice but to administer paddlings. I suppose if he was a new young coach getting pressure from the older more seasoned paddling coaches to do what's expected, it could be uncomfortable for him. I may need to ask a few more questions about that one. I've talked to teachers who sought different teaching jobs to get out of paddling districts, because they were against it and had taken their jobs without realizing they would be expected to paddle.
Jeff: Some move away from paddling jobs, some migrate to them. It is my belief that very nearly 100% of paddlers who believe it is "good for the kids" will become sadists, even if they weren't when they hired in. They may mask it well, often with tears. This kind of "kindness" mixed in with torture frequently initiates the Stockholm Syndrome in victims.
Jeff: Sam, when you grow up and have kids would ever allow them to be paddled at school?
Sam: NO! It's just wrong.
Jeff: Sam, how many swats did you get altogether, if you can remember? In other words, in 16 paddlings, if it were 3 swats each time, it would be 48 swats. If you can't remember for sure, just make a best guess.
Sam: Probably 50.
Jeff: How many people paddled you altogether? How many different people witnessed your paddlings?
Sam: Two, the coach and the principal. There were never any witnesses.
Jeff: What rooms or areas were you paddled in? Can you describe them? (Principal's office, coaches office, hallway, playing field, behind the bleachers, etc.)
Sam: The principal had a separate room by the office where he paddled. He would talk to you in his office, and then take you to the other little room for the paddling. The coach did it in his office.
Jeff: Were other students aware when you were paddled, and were you aware when they were paddled? Did you just know that someone was going to be paddled, or did others hear the swats, or see the principal or coach carry the paddle, or actually watch you (or you them?)
Sam: Other people knew when you were going to get paddled, and I knew when someone else was too. The principal would use this certain tone, kind of sad, kind of mad when he called you to his office. I never heard the swats, but maybe if my classroom had been closer, I might have been able to. One time I saw a kid in the office when I was on my way to the restroom. The kid started to cry when the principal told him he was going to be paddled.
Jeff: What was the longest an actual paddling took, from the moment you entered the office until the moment you left?
Sam: I'm not sure. It took a little while. The teacher who sent you there would have to fill out a referral slip. Then the principal would discuss what you did and why you were being paddled before it happened.
Jeff: Were any other students paddled a lot like you were, or were you singled out?
Sam: In one class, this one guy was a trouble maker. We both got it a lot, but I think he maybe got it more than I did. I would do stupid things and get in trouble.
Jeff: Were girls paddled also? Did men paddle or witness them being paddled, or was there a strict gender separation, if you know?
Sam: Yes, girls were paddled by the principal. I'm not sure if the girl's coaches paddled. I don't think there were any witnesses. There weren't for me.
Holly: In July Sam told me, "Getting hit is better than being ignored. At least someone's paying attention to you."
Jeff: Psychologists have long reported that sometimes children will deliberately act out to be punished just to get attention if they feel they are ignored. Do you think that maybe sometimes you actually misbehaved, if not on purpose, at least recklessly, to get some kind of one-on-one attention that was then missing otherwise at the time?
Sam: Yes, to tell you the truth, I did. Sometimes I don't get enough attention.
Jeff: Another deep question for a 13-year-old. Some have reported feeling like they were "bad" or "dirty," somehow, but after a spanking or paddling they felt "cleansed," like they paid some kind of cosmic Karma debt. This is often true when religion is mixed in, or people quote the Bible. Did you ever feel somehow better after a paddling, like maybe you were "set right," beyond the reason you were being paddled for?
Sam: A little better, but not much. My mind was pretty much on the spanking.
Jeff: How many incidents of other students being paddled were you directly aware of?
Sam: I couldn't really give you a number, but about every third time a student was called into the office, it was for a paddling. You could tell by the tone of the principal's voice.
Jeff: Do you mean to say that the principal acted real sad when he "had" to paddle students, like the crying, paddling coach?
Sam: Not just like that. He sounded more disappointed, rather than sad, like you'd let him down. He'd tell the teacher to send you down to his office over the intercom. You could just tell by his voice that it was for a paddling.
Jeff: Was this 7th grade? Was this considered Junior High?
Sam: Yes, seventh grade, middle-school.
Jeff: I'd like to ask a couple of questions about your dad, since he was mentioned in Holly's letter. I'll deliberately keep them very vague.
Were you or your siblings hit by your father when he was at home?
Sam: Yes, punched, kicked, with a belt. One time he shoved my sister through a wall.
Jeff: Did your dad also hit your mother?
Sam: No, but she was abused when she was a kid. She once got hit with a frying pan.
Jeff: Do you have any final thoughts to add about paddling?
Sam: Only principals and coaches could paddle. The most swats I got at one time was five. It really did hurt.
I felt embarrassed about getting paddled, and I thought it was weird. None of my other schools ever paddled kids.
I think paddling's retarded because it's a bad example. It's stupid. They'd hit you if you hit someone else, then tell you that you shouldn't hit people.
Paddled Texas High school girl, 2005. Horribly bruised buttocks.
The Lufkin Daily News
Parents of student who was paddled file suit against Groveton ISD
By GARY BASS, The Lufkin Daily News
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Alleging school officials physically abused their son and violated
his civil rights, the parents of a former Groveton ISD student have
filed a lawsuit in Lufkin's U.S. District Court. The lawsuit stems
from two paddling incidents in 2003.
The lawsuit, filed by the family of Justin Michael Causby, is seeking
an unspecified amount in negligence claims and exemplary damages for
past and future pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional
"The Groveton Independent School District has a policy which promotes
corporal punishment," the lawsuit states. "The school policy is
archaic, barbaric and sadistic and one which encourages physical
abuse on minors as punishment for trivial infractions.
"The policy of punishment by this local government entity allows its
employees to arbitrarily mete out the corporal punishment for a broad
range of behavior, including relatively minor childhood discipline
Groveton ISD Superintendent Joe David Driskell said he was unaware
that a lawsuit had been filed by the family.
"I don't have any comment at this time," he said. "I guess I'll just
have to wait and see what the court says."
The lawsuit alleges Groveton ISD's corporal punishment policy is
in "direct conflict" with state criminal laws that prevent citizens
from physically abusing minor children.
In addition to the school district itself, the lawsuit named a PE
coach and a band teacher at Groveton Elementary as defendants.
The first paddling occurred Aug. 21, the lawsuit states. At the time,
Justin Causby was a 10-year-old fifth grader at Groveton Elementary.
The second occurred four days later.
Samuel J. Cuming, an attorney for the Causby family, said he did a
great deal of research on corporal punishment and found that while it
used to be the norm in public schools, districts across the country
are eliminating it as a disciplinary option.
"No kid in the state of Texas should be subjected to this kind of
brutality," Cuming said. "I think the days of corporal punishment are
numbered. It's a very primitive form of discipline, and it can lead
to situations like this."
Gary Bass' e-mail address is email@example.com.
Photos of Justin Causby's buttocks after school paddlings in Groveton ISD, Groveton, Texas