After a Texas elementary school brought back corporal punishment for the 2017-2018 school year, they reignited the long-running debate over paddling in schools.
But one devilish group is speaking out on the policy:
Earlier this year, the Satanic Temple announced their opposition to the school’s decision.
Like generations before, nearly 700 students in two schools in Three Rivers ISD, located 75 miles south of San Antonio, once again know the fear of the paddle if they misbehave.
Trustees approved the measure 6-0, with one member absent, school board meeing records show.
The new policy is reportedly the brainchild of Three Rivers native Andrew Amaro, who is currently the elementary school’s campus behavior coordinator.
He said he received discipline with a paddle during his time as a student, saying he believes it bring a more immediate result in change in behavior than in or out of school suspension.
“I believe it worked,” Amaro said in an interview on the subject of school punishment. “It was an immediate response for me. I knew that if I got in trouble with a teacher, and I was disrespectful, whatever the infraction was, I knew I was going to get a swat by the principal.”
While some parents agree with the decision, others said the school is over-stepping its bounds:
“The one that is supposed to spank the kid is the father and mother. Not the principal or whatever they call it,” parent Gilbert Perez said in an interview. “… I went through that, and it’s real hard when somebody spanks you.”
Former U.S. Department of Education John B. King, Jr. says he agrees with Perez’s concerns:
King, Jr. reportedly sent a letter to schools last year urging them to ban corporal punishment, citing studies showing it leads to short- and long-term consequences, such as increased aggression, depression, substance abuse problems and even PTSD.
“While some may argue that corporal punishment is a tradition in some school communities, society has evolved, and past practice alone is no justification,” King’s letter read. “No school can be considered safe or supportive if its students are fearful of being physically punished.”
As students registered for this school year, school officials asked parents to sign a permission form for paddling, which included an opt-out options for parents with other preferences for punishment than paddling.
“If the parent is not comfortable with it, that’s the end of the discussion,” Superintendent Mary Springs said in a statement.
However, not everyone agrees permission forms go far enough to protect children:
In October, the Satanic Temple made headlines when they posted a billboard along Route 281 against Three Rivers’ corporal punishment policy with the following inscription:
“Our religion doesn’t believe in hitting children.”
“We find it sad and irresponsible that the Three Rivers Independent School District would be backward enough to re-introduce this barbaric and counterproductive practice into their schools,” Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said in a statement.
Across Texas, 27 school districts reportedly allow corporal punishment.
Local districts generally take a different approach to discipline and avoid corporal punishment; paddling is off the table at Houston ISD, Katy ISD, Cy-Fair ISD, Fort Bend ISD and Aldine ISD.