Should physical corporal punishment be abolished

Where teachers can hit

The video has now been seen by more than a million people, although it is difficult to bear: five-year-old Thomas Perez is in his elementary school Jasper Primary School, beaten in Georgia - not by a rowdy classmate, but by his teachers. Headmistress Pam Edge and her deputy Lynn McElheney hold Thomas down and place him over a chair as he tries to pull himself away. "Mama, help me!" He yells, but his mother Shana Marie Perez seems to be devoting herself to her smartphone while the headmistress hits the child on the backside with a log. The little one roars. In truth, the mother is filming what is happening and putting the video online.

She will later say on Facebook that the school principals threatened her: If she did not agree to the spanking, she would be arrested because her son had already missed 18 school days that school year. "There was nothing I could do to stop her." Her son's crime this time: he spat on a classmate and devastated a classroom. But do you teach a five-year-old nonviolence by doing violence to him? So-called "paddling," that is, beating with a log, like corporal punishment in general, is legal in 19 American states.

Parents who do not want this can apply for their child to be exempted from corporal punishment. Perez said she did that at the beginning of the school year, but the school administration denies it: "We cannot comment on individual cases, but we can only do that with the consent of the parents when corporal punishment is used."

Most read this week:

The Georgia incident was over a year ago but is now being shared like crazy at the start of school. Before the little ones return to school in these weeks, the debate flares up again as to whether, when and in what form corporal punishment of young children makes sense. The American Psychological Association As early as 2012 clearly stated: "Many studies show that physical punishment such as spanking the buttocks or other means of trying to pain can lead to more aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injuries and mental problems for children." American Academy of Pediatrics "Strongly condemns the practice" and says the evidence is clear that the beatings do more harm than good. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child also protects children "from all forms of physical or mental violence."

In Germany, what is common practice in American schools would be considered assault. The Germans abolished the right to punish teachers as early as 1973. The law has guaranteed the "right to a non-violent upbringing" since 2000. But black education is still standard, especially in the southern states, including Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma. Beatings are not rare either: In Mississippi or Arkansas, for example, up to ten percent of children have been "disciplined" with beatings at school.

As a rule of thumb, the more Christian and conservative the area, the more frequent the beatings. After all, it's in the Bible. "For those whom the Lord loves, he chastises," it even says in the New Testament. "Where do we go if I'm not even allowed to do what's in the Bible?" Asks an indignant father in Kentucky. "Spanking your bum once has never done any harm," comment a surprising number of parents on Facebook, while others complain in horror that one no longer lives in the Middle Ages.

Professor Dick Startz from the University of California Santa Barbara also found that the beating does not hit everyone's buttocks equally: black children are twice as likely to be beaten in school as white children. The ultra-Christian thugs can only be recommended to take a look at the Coleman Elementary School Throwing in Baltimore. The school is located in an area that could be described as a problem area: 80 percent of the students live below the poverty line, many get too little to eat at home, violence and drug addiction are the order of the day. "I've seen a child come in, look me straight in the face and say, without any emotion," My grandfather was shot yesterday, "says Andres Gonzalez, co-founder of the Holistic Life Foundation. "You can imagine what these children are struggling with."

This is precisely why the school decided not to retaliate against violence with violence. "We really try our best to make the school a place where the children feel safe and where we cater to their needs," says headmistress Carlillian Thomas. She has with the Holistic Life Foundation set up a sensational, award-winning pilot project: Every school day begins and ends with 15 minutes of meditation. The children sit still, eyes closed, and focus on their breath. If a child becomes rebellious or even violent, the teachers send them to the "Mindful Moment" room. There they are received not with blows, but with the scent of lavender and purple meditation pillows.

The really amazing thing is the effect: "The children come in, maybe agitated, and then we take this negative energy and focus it on something positive," says Thomas in a CNN documentary. “Instead of fighting, they learn to resolve conflicts peacefully. Since we introduced the program, we haven't had to suspend a single student. «The program is so successful that it is to be expanded nationwide. The only wood that then touches the child's bottom is the wood of the meditation bench.