There have been plenty of times that I have asked kids at school, "What would your mother do if she saw you do that?" It's a chop, I confess, but it also gets straight to the point of the matter. They have rightly figured out that I am happy with my teaching credential and would never lay a hand on them, but their mothers would. Their reply is invariably accompanied with a down-turned gaze, "I'd get a whuppin'." The length and severity of said whuppin' is open to much debate, but for most of the parents at my school if a whuppin' is promised a whuppin' is delivered.
That's why it is so hard, at times, to follow through on some of those phone calls home. Then again, I have seen parents walking their kids up the front steps of the school finishing off a paddling that probably began just after or during breakfast. Then they become our responsibility. And somewhere in there, I ask the occasional miscreant, "How many times do you suppose I have ever spanked my child?" The ones who do venture an answer usually guess right: zero.
We have a rule at our house: You only get spanked when you ask for it. It sounds a little risque, but it serves a purpose. The very idea of spanking seems as silly as our rule. How does one expect to improve a small person's behavior by beating them? Maybe you could beat some sense into them. Sorry. A study from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Maryland, involving hundreds of U.S. children, showed the more a child was spanked the lower his or her IQ compared with others. "Contrary to what everyone believes, being hit by parents is a traumatic experience," study researcher Murray Straus said. "We know from lots of research that traumatic stresses affect the brain adversely."
That doesn't sound too contrary to me. Being hit by anyone counts as a traumatic experience. Especially parents. Like that other rule we all have in our classrooms: Keep your hands to yourselves.