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home : opinions : opinions July 22, 2014

12/2/2012 9:37:00 PM
Editorial: Humiliation is not the way to go

Some of us of a certain age recall school as a place where you'd better not get in trouble because, if you got caught, an appropriate number of "swats" would be the result, often at the hands of a physical education teacher or vice principal whose paddle was custom-made for the purpose and took a certain evil delight in doling out this primitive brand of discipline.

Today's more enlightened age has outlawed corporal punishment in schools. And while we don't advocate the beating of children for any reason, we have to allow that the threat of a bright red, aching backside was effective.

Necessarily, discipline in schools has become more creative. Some would argue that the kinder, gentler methods of today provide less impact and have led to a couple of disrespectful generations, but school officials have done what they can with the tools available to them.

That's why it was interesting to see that a pair of students in the Valley of the Sun - and the principal of their school - became the subjects of controversy last week when the students, after getting into a fight, were forced to hold hands in front of God and the student body and everyone else during their lunch hour.

Now, Tim Richards, principal at Westwood High School in Mesa, is getting called on the carpet for his decision to use this creative discipline. The school district doesn't support his manner of dealing with the incident even though, to us, it seems very unlikely that those two boys will fight on school grounds again.

We just can't believe that public humiliation is an appropriate way to deal with a juvenile problem, and we wouldn't be overly surprised if Mr. Richard's suffers similar embarrassment at the hands of his bosses.

Still, disciplining students, in the face of modern political correctness, has become a tricky business. Most of the best methods, such as the local Character Counts programs, deal with problems in advance, teaching kids about respect and citizenship before the urge to cause trouble hits home.

In-school suspensions also are an effective innovation. As a 2010 Connecticut study noted, "the more students are repeatedly disciplined out of school (with old-fashioned, get-your-tail-out-of-here suspensions), the more likely they are to stay out of school and end up eventually in prison."

With so many households comprising two working parents trying to raise good citizens, the schools have become surrogate guardians, forced to tread cautiously in an area that used to be as simple as swatting away trouble.

But raining down scorn on a pair of wrongdoers, effective or not, is a stretch of that authority.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Article comment by: Stealth Bummer

HELLO... The principal gave the boys a CHOICE. Suspension or the hand-holding activity. They CHOSE to hold hands...

There are more weird comments on this thread than on any I have read so far. Really scary, angry people I would want to stay far, far away from. And, people who want to make this incident an example of homophobia. Are there really this many weirdos in this area???

There is no doubt in my mind that our youth is a spoiled, out of control group of badly educated dolts. It's not their fault. It's the schools who demanded and got this power to shape the lives of kids with no parents home due to both being employed. And, they used it to fill their heads with feel good, politically correct BS and dumbed down the curriculum.

Yes, there are those that succeed, but for the most part, our kids are more stupid than my generation was. Can't make correct change without a calculator. Speak incorrectly, can't spell. Poor logic, perfectly circular. A product of our times. Perfect for their intended purpose in our New World Order.

Bravo to a fun principal, who gave a choice. And, I doubt it was too "humiliating". It was funny and I'll bet that neither of these boys felt that they were "scarred" by the experience. The fact they agreed to it and experienced it together likely made them friends. It solved a problem, creatively, with humor. Something sorely lacking in this wonderful new world of ours.

Posted: Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Article comment by: dog on

I'm with Judson on this one. I am raising two talented, intelligent, thoughtful, health boys. I'm doing my best to make sure they are going to the best at whatever they choose to do with their lives. However, they are not perfect. It is up to me how to discipline them if needed. If someone were to lay a hand on them that person would forever regret that decision. And I'm not talking about court.

Posted: Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Article comment by: carla and edward

This situation is temporary humiliation. My classmates mooned the opposing team on parent night ( from across the field , at least). Our principal was into creative discipline ( and creative rewards, I might add.) At our reunion we all looked back at it with a chuckle. No lasting psychological damage done. Good grief! It will be forgotten about UNLESS it gets drug out into court and made a mountain.

Posted: Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Article comment by: Europe Knows How To School

Ant wonder why our school and family values are going down the cesspool? Look at how the European schools handle their education system=uniforms, discipline,homework, rules and regulations. Take these away and you have=American school system. Can't put a bandaid on a broken arm.

Posted: Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Article comment by: Judson Summer

@ Madison
Since I understand the violent assault of the paddle, if that happened to any child I knew or my own, that teacher would be hit so hard in the head with a bat out in the parking lot that he would never know who hit him.

Let that be a warning to any teacher who would use that paddle on a child.

I also know how to make a dog mean. And we wonder about violence in our culture. Talk to the dogs doing time in the pound for biting for a clue. The self discipline of years of self defense in formal martial arts training helped get that temper under control. It's still there, just restrained.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Tongue-in-Cheek .

Strange World we live in. The two boys are suing because the school forced them to hold hands, while in the courtroom right next door two gay boys are suing because the school won't let them hold hands. HUM.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Schools Lack Morals and Values

Discipline, dress code, morals, respect for teachers, values=ALL GONE And you wonder why there are so many problems in our schools? Take God and respect out and you have no morals or values, or a high school diploma.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: HOW MANY

I wonder how many of the miscreants deliberately subjected to humiliation for their misdeeds by the early European settlers, by being displayed in the "stocks" on the public square, were repeaters.

I doubt there's data on that, but it would be useful in determining the effectiveness of humiliation. I would guess that, especially in these days of kids so slaved to peer-pressure, humiliation is a greatly effective tool.

We have far overshot effective punishment by focusing so strongly on the kids' psyches rather than their effective redirection.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Do Any of You

... the teachers and parents of today are the students who grew up under the discipline measures of "yesteryear" and they have either decided it did not work for them or forgotten that it did work for them. Now the parents do nothing to raise their kids and threaten the schools with lawsuits if the schools try to instill any amount of discipline, so the teachers and schools really have their hands tied.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Barbara Mace

FYI: Mr. Richards (Principal) gave the boys a choice - suspension (out of school) or the lunch time "activity". I say Hurrah! for the principal's creativity and the boys making the correct choice (of staying in school!).

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Midge Baker

REAL humiliation is standing with your back to the lockers while a gang leader squishes orange slices in your eyes, her gang stands by to retaliate it you try to defend yourself, and the rest of the student body and the TEACHERS look on an do NOTHING.

Been there, done that.

Humiliating the perp is simple justice..

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Steele

The editorial covered numerous points however offered no suggestions. A suggestion is to call in parents or a parent, describe the student problem and ask the parent what should be done. Responsible parents will take action that may be recommended by the school or not. If counseling and punishment don't work, well, there is always the real world experience for a 17 year old without a high school diploma.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Been there done that

You simply don't get it do you? EVERY form of "discipline" used in school carries with it "scorn". It is the effective use of this peer pressure that achieves results.

From the antiquated days of paddling to these "more enlightened times", it is the input from our peers that has had the most impact on us.

To this day, I can't remember the number, or the severity of the swats I received in elementary school for an altercation on the playground, but, I, and my friends who say, remember when you got spanked for your fight with (so-in-so) in 3rd grade, remember the embarrassment of that discipline.

So, editors, spare us your opinion on how this educator over stepped their authority, unless of course, you are going to hang up your pen and walk into a classroom.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Vi King

I have heard that other groups use the hand holding discipline as well. I would think it would be an effective way to deal with using their hands for something other than hitting! It is an equal punishment as well as both parties must complete the same punishment.
We had the belt at home. I never got the belt, because I knew what would happen if I acted up. Now I was not the perfect child. I was spanked, and grounded several times! But I did learn. I don't regret being spanked. I think I am a better person for it. I do not have any kids, but if I did, I would have spanked them if they needed it.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Tongue-in-Cheek .

When I was growing up, school was the easy punishment, no one BEAT me as some try to describe it, but a swift smack with a symbolic paddle in the principals office sent a clear message. However, when I got home was when I learned the real value of respecting others AND my parents worked too, but they earned my respect. All I can say is whatever the "enlightened" thinkers are plotting, IT AIN"T WORKING, so don't knock the old fashioned ways, they worked pretty damn well and the older generation is not suffering butt scars or mental disrepair as a result of a school paddle. WHERE OH WHERE have we gone so wrong with the pansy generation.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: James Madison

Personally, I'd stay with the paddle.

And the fact that the author inserted that the punisher had a 'certain evil delight' in doling out the punishment just goes to show the author's true ideology. "Oh, those horrible people beating those poor defenseless children."

But, as everyone can readily see from the author's slip up of actually continuing the story with some snippets of truth, new age, politically correct, social progressive techniques don't work.

Hence, the chaos that permeates today's society.

Better, maybe, to revert back to "old school" techniques.

Or, perhaps, do what many want done today. Haul the parents in and punish them. After all, the little misbehaving urchins have to be protected.

Good grief.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Humiliation Works

An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. Nothing is more effective. If you humilate someone then you need to be humilated so you can understand the feeling involved and not do it again. If you kill someone you should be put to death. If you steel you should have something taken from you. Without punishment evil doers will never learn. Also, haul in the parents, and hold them responsilbe for their childs actions. Parents are the only ones responsible for not raising there children properly. I sincerely hope all of you who are so soft on disipline experience the full extent of their evil actions personally. Then and only then will you understand how wrong you are.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: I like the way it perpetuates and encourages

homophobia, humiliation and hubris.

Just like when I was I school!

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Judson Summer

Best discipline, doing the times tables up to 12x12 and doing it 25 times. I learned about making a machine with 25 pencils. I learned the times tables and saw the patterns that helped in advanced math.

Worst, swats at summer school, eighth grade. Never occurred to me that some one would do that, since my regular school had you clean the bathrooms, remove gum, or made you write an essay and do the times tables.

This was full 3 steps across the room by grown man at full force. Instantly, I was filled with rage and seething resentment and resolved to take my justice.

My buddy who was also a recipient of this assault upon our persons, help me cut all of this teacher's tire valve stems on the last day. I still don't have any regrets.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Common Senzi

Society started going downhill about the time we stopped spanking (them).

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Von Deck

I suspected that creativity was banned in schools.

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