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NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) — A school in Hephzibah, Georgia, is drawing national attention after sending consent forms to parents informing them of a new policy of using paddling as a form of punishment for students, CBS affiliate WRDW-TV reports.
The Georgia School of Innovation and the Classics (GSIC), a kindergarten-through-9th-grade charter school, is bringing back paddling — spanking a child on the behind with a wooden board — as a form of discipline. Superintendent Jody Boulineau told WRDW that about 100 parents sent back the forms, and one-third gave the school consent to paddle their child.
“In this school, we take discipline very seriously,” the superintendent said. “There was a time where corporal punishment was kind of the norm in school and you didn’t have the problems that you have.”
Boulineau said parents can deny giving permission to the school. The form sent home explained the steps the school would take to discipline children with a paddle. “A student will be taken into an office behind closed doors. The student will place their hands on their knees or piece of furniture and will be struck on the buttocks with a paddle,” the form, which was obtained by WRDW, reads. Students will be paddled after their third offense. The form also says “no more than three licks should be given.”
The paddle will be 24 inches in length, six inches in width and 3/4 inches in thickness, the form specifies. Parents will be notified if their child is to be paddled by an administrator, according to the form, which CBS News has not independently verified.
“It’s just one more tool that we have in our disciplinary toolbox that we can use,” Boulineau said.
Psychologist Dr. Valerie Braunstein says it could negatively affect how those students paddled would continue learning.
“That’s ineffective for punishment. When someone experiences physical pain, they really can’t absorb any lessons you’re providing regarding any behavior changes you would like them to make,” says Braunstein.
That’s why she’s surprised to see this form of punishment resurrected.
“We’ve been able to do more research and gain more information, and look at what’s happened, we’ve been able to move forward in better practices and policies,” Braunstein adds.
The superintendent said the response from parents has varied. “I’ve heard, ‘Great, it’s about time, we’re so glad that this is happening again, they should’ve never taken it out of schools.’ All the way to, ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t believe you are doing that,'” he said.
“I think that’s horrible,” Dianne Sanjenis tells CBS3.
Jorel Bay says, “It’s very crazy and I feel for the children.”
Although paddling is seen as a controversial policy that has not been used widely in schools for years, it is legal in Georgia and 19 other states.
Parents who opt out of the paddling must agree to up to five days of suspension as punishment for their children. GSIC is the only school in the August area that will start paddling students who are misbehaving this year.
Boulineau, as well as other administrators and board members, have not responded to CBS News’ request for comment.
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