It’s Still Legal For Teachers To Hit Students In Oklahoma
Have you ever been privy to a conversation about "kids these days" and either heard or said something along the lines "Life was better when you could hit kids."? I have. I've heard it and I've probably said it... more or less in jest, but times sure are different when it comes to raising kids. If you're a parent, odds are you've taken heat from the grandparents concerning discipline. I'm sure my parents did too, and so on down the line.
Truth be told, I grew up in a whoopin' house. In terms of discipline, my parents couldn't be any more different. My dad can tell you the one and only time he ever got a spanking from his parents. On the other hand, my mom has horror stories that border straight up child abuse in her upbringing. Growing up, I'd wager I probably got no less than six licks with the belt each week, and I earned each and every one of them. I was the rowdy kid that would be told specifically not to do something, then I look you straight in your eye as I did it anyway. A rebel without a cause, and it was an attitude I took to school with me as a kid.
In kindergarten, we used to go to class for half a day. I was a morning class kid, so my afternoons consisted of going home, cooking a grilled cheese sandwich and swimming for the rest of the hot afternoon. Before my sisters got home, I'd come inside, change into pj's and watch Harry and the Hendersons. Literally, every.single.day. Same food, swim, pj's, bigfoot movie like clockwork. When I moved on to the first grade, instead of going to lunch with my classmates, I had this habit of walking home, making myself a grilled cheese and taking a dip in the pool. You could imagine the trouble I got into the first time I got caught.
The first time I got caught might have been the twelfth time I had enjoyed my afternoon off from class. Punishment started light, a stern talking to from our gargantuan principal Mr. Leatherman and a few swats at home with dads heavy leather belt... Nothing horrible or aimed to maim me, just a little discipline to leave a lasting impression of why I should do that. By the time the second grade came around, they got better at discovering my absence. I think it was only my fourth or fifth time going home at lunch for the day, and by that time, Principal Leatherman and my pops decided the school needed to be represented as an authority over me, so the principal gave me swats with the dreaded officially permitted and state issued school paddle. I remember wailing away after that first hit, and that was that... or at least, I got a lot better at hiding it. By high school, I was using the payphones to impersonate my dad, explaining my son had come home sick and that he wouldn't be in his afternoon classes. My parents shouldn't have ever let me watch Ferris Bueller.
For the twenty years I've been out of school, I've told these and countless other stories about paddling and spankings in school not knowing that they're still legal and acceptable forms of punishment in our school systems still to this day. But it doesn't seem like a popular punishment. Like I said, I thought they did away with it a long time ago.
Turns out, Oklahoma is one of nineteen states that still allow what's called "Corporal Punishment" in schools, but there's no clear indication on how it's supposed to go about happening. The natural thought is there might be a permission slip sent home either early in the school year or perhaps at registration, but of all the parents I've asked, none of them remember anything like that. Is it a punishment that comes about at a certain level of truancy? Like your kid has been suspended X-amount of times and it's still not clicking, so they ask permission to paint their back porch red?
If you're a parent, you tell me... How does the school go about either getting permission to discipline your kids and/or let you know after the fact? Do you think it would be effective? Do you think it's so rare because so many of our kids are at a point so exposed to the internet now they might instead enjoy a little spanking, so they just opt not to take that road? Or do you think the school system is more focused on getting kids in and out as quick as possible and on to the next class of funding? Is it a standardized punishment statewide or different for each school district? Surely someone knows all about this stuff.