As the Obama administration anticipates handing over the keys to Donald Trump, they are firing a few parting shots of policy. From the Associated Press:
Education Secretary John B. King Jr. is urging governors and school leaders in states that allow student paddling to end a practice he said would be considered “criminal assault or battery” against an adult.
King released a letter Tuesday asking leaders to replace corporal punishment with less punitive, more supportive disciplinary practices that he said work better against bad behavior.
Before delving into the debate over corporal punishment as such, or its use in public schools, we should address this notion from King of “criminal assault or battery.” It’s true, if I took my belt off and started swinging at my co-worker’s rear, I could be held criminally liable. However, equating that hypothetical scenario to the corporal punishment of children ignores their nature as children.
Kids are not adults. That should go without saying but apparently, does not.
If children could be reasoned with, there would be no need for parents. The whole concept of guardianship rests on the premise that those guarded cannot fend for themselves. They cannot provide for themselves. They cannot decide for themselves. They lack the ability to function independently in society. Parents stand responsible to fill those gaps, to provide, to decide, and to act on behalf of their children.
For that responsibility to be fulfilled, they must exercise authority over their children. If your kids are not required to listen to you, how can you act as their parents? All they have to do is say no, walk away, passively or actively resist, and you’ve got nothing left in your toolbox. It’s not as if you can just let them go, let them run off and do whatever they want and wash your hands of it. They remain your responsibility whether they obey you or not. So what’s left? What can you turn to when your children will not comply?
Force. That’s what. Force imposed from a rightful authority, in a proper context and applied moderately to a specific effect, is the difference between order and chaos. That’s true in the broader society, and why we have military and police forces. It’s also true in our homes.
We can debate the specifics of corporal punishment. We can argue over where the line should be drawn between discipline and abuse. We can question whether corporal punishment by school teachers and administrators functions as effective policy. But we ought not to pretend that the relationship between guardian and child has anything in common with a relationship between adults. If you have a conflict with another adult, you can resolve it through adjudication of your respective rights as equals. Your children are not your equals. They do not have full agency, nor should they. It’s apples and oranges.
See PJ Media’s infographic on Spanking in America on the next page: