To Beat or Not to Beat


            If you talk to any school teacher, the stress that comes from educating our nation’s youth can often lead to one’s breaking point.  On top of that, the fact that teachers cannot adequately discipline students or even defend themselves makes reaching them and encouraging educational growth virtually impossible.

            It is no coincidence that with the abolishment of corporal punishment in many areas comes a rise in unruly behavior by students.  Unfortunately, massacres like Columbine have become as commonplace as educational success stories in the last 15 years.

            The pressures of teaching our troubled youth came to a boil recently at Jamie’s House Charter School in Houston as special education teacher Sherri Davis was captured on video severely beating a student on May 11.

            “The video is absolutely horrifying,” said school spokesperson Sue Davis.  “Obviously when we saw the video there was no doubt that the teacher would be terminated.”

            The mother of the 13-year-old victim, Alesah Johnson, reported that her son suffered a black eye and several bruises in the attack.

            Although I believe the teacher should be punished to the fullest extent of the law and was totally wrong in her actions, a deeper problem is at issue.

            The lack of discipline in our nation’s schools in my opinion is attributed to the abolishment of corporal punishment and the lack of rights our teachers possess.

            In society, when one feels that they are in danger they have a right to defend themselves.  However, in the classroom it seems those rights have been stripped away from our educators.   Teachers, parents and students are told that an educator or administrator cannot put their hands on a child in any circumstance.

            As a result, many students will use this rule to their advantage because they know a teacher will face termination if it is proven they became a physical with a student.  Many students will initiate a physical altercation, and teachers have become victims of brutal attacks, because a teacher has no right to defend themselves, no matter what the circumstances are.

            When I was in school, I vividly remember my father checking the “yes” box that allowed corporal punishment if I misbehaved.  The fact that I knew I could face physical repercussions as a result of my behavior was constantly in my mind, and a respect for my teachers and principals materialized.

            The fact that there is basically no discipline in the schools is what leads to the unfortunate incident that occurred at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. in 1999.  Suspension from school is not a legitimate deterrent of bad behavior because most students with discipline problems do not want to be in school anyway.

            Corporal punishment and giving teachers the right to defend themselves if they are in physical danger are the only things that will save our youth and instill some form of discipline in their lives.

            If a student can curse out a teacher, I believe that a teacher should be able to curse back.  If a student can put their hands on a teacher, I believe that teacher should be able to lay hands on the students.

            I have heard that the only constant in life is change.  We changed the law that allowed corporal punishment in many jurisdictions and the consequences have proven severe.  If we are as intelligent a country as we claim to be, we would admit that all change is not good and sometimes we should change back to the way things were.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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