published Friday, May 31st, 2013

Cook: A Taser a day ...

Schools are not prisons.

Yet whenever a threat emerges on campus -- either from outside or inside -- school officials begin speaking in prison terminology.

They put the school on -- listen for it -- "lockdown."

Why? Schools are not prisons.

Yet in Hamilton County, corporal punishment is still an acceptable and permissible form of discipline.

Each fall, parents are asked to sign a Code of Acceptable Behavior and Discipline, which informs them that school officials may discipline their child physically.

They may paddle them.

Plus, the school does not have to notify parents if their child is paddled; only when parents request it is an explanation given, according to the code.

Why do we still allow corporal punishment? Schools are not prisons.

Yet when encountering two students fighting each other last week at LaFayette High, the school's resource officer responded with actions more appropriate for criminals or inmates.

He drew his Taser and fired.

"I couldn't have asked him to do anything different," the LaFayette police chief said.

Is this what it has come to? When an armed, trained police officer uses his Taser on two high school teenage girls -- and is applauded for it -- then we have reached a point of societal confusion where we no longer distinguish between prison and schoolyard.

Introducing such Taser-esque discipline (man, it almost makes you nostalgic for the paddle) into schools sends such an insulting psychological message to students, who see officers treat them in the same way they would felons. Students see the sanctity of their school grounds violated by a mindset better suited for incarceration.

There is no creative, less violent way to deal with two teenage girls who are fighting? This is the best form of discipline available to the LaFayette school and police officials?

It's like Tasers are a gateway discipline; is tear gas now also appropriate?

(Plus, a 2012 study showed that Tasers can cause cardiac arrest and death, according to The New York Times.)

The students who were fighting? They're being charged as criminals and face misdemeanor charges for fighting in a public place and could spend a year in jail and face a fine of up to $1,000.

Why? Schools are not prisons. Students are not prisoners. School resource officers are not jail guards.

There is, however, one hero in the story: the student who took the cellphone video that was then posted to YouTube, which made the story public.

Whoever you are, bravo. Well done. Really, really well done.

Of course, you, too, are being criminalized. School officials are on a witch hunt for you, wanting to punish you for violating school use policy for technology.

Yet you used technology in just the way it should be used.

You acted democratically, using technology to expose wrongdoing, to bring to light something troubling and questionable.

Punished? You ought to be applauded.

After all, schools are not prisons.

Contact David Cook at or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
librul said...

Very good Mr. Cook. I totally agree: "Schools are not prisons. Students are not prisoners. School resource officers are not jail guards."

I am glad my kid got through the school system back when it was teachers and principals who were the authorities in schools and it was parents who were called on the carpet alongside them when kids misbehaved.

The militarization of the school environment through ROTC programs is total craziness. The Schools are for academic development, not military recruiting.

The ultimate authority in the school should be teachers and principals, not pigs with tasers who are afraid to end a catfight without using one. The mere fact that the presence of a cop wasn't enough to end the frackas amply demonstrates the "resource officer" concept is a total failure.

May 31, 2013 at 1:13 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Nothing negative about the two near-adults fighting, which led to the rest. Same old...

May 31, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.
klifnotes said...

It should not be surprising when schools begin operating like prisons, students start to behave like inmates.

As long as police use military style tactics and strategies in schools and many communities, the communities and schools will continue to decline.

There's a relationship between poor performing schools and aggressive policing tactics that goes on inside them. Children can't learn when the school environment operates more like a prison than a learning environment, and struggling communities can't rise above their dire situation when most citizens living in those communities are getting arrested and hauled off to jails and prisons for minor, exaggerated and often trumped up charges.

It becomes like the bully on every street corner you can't avoide no matter how hard you try. You can't even make it home after cashing your check from that low wage job to feed your family without the bully blocking you and shaking you down for your earnings.

May 31, 2013 at 9:45 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

This is the biggest bunch of liberal hooie I have read in a very long time. First off, where was law inforcement when I was in the school system during the 60's and early 70's? NOWHERE!!!

Corporal punishment was the norm, if you acted up you got you butt paddled and it was not fun, but was a deterent for bad behavior. Just ask the folks my age (mid 50's) and they will tell you that the educational system was much better then than now. You were actually taught skills you could use in the outside world, and not this crap from magnet schools, charter schools, and schools for the liberal arts LOL, or arts and crafts oops should I have said arts and sciences.

You handled bullies the old fashioned way, not by saying "oh you are being bullied lets feel sorry for you".

What would happen today if the HCSD did what they did back in the early 1970's and put undercover agents in the schools to buy some weed? I know, every liberal would talk about how illegal it is and use the term "entrapment".

A large portion of the schools (public that is, not Mr. Cook's sheltered private school) are infiltrated with gang members, and the children of idiot parents who still adhere to the Dr. Spock method of childrearing, or worse yet the Oprah method.

Sadly we are seeing more and more of the "private school" type parents at the outlying public schools such as Signal, Hooterville, and East Hammie. They think their children are perfect and they are above most "regular" folks, and it is reflected by their ankle biters who think they are priviledged, and above discipline. One look no further than the drinking arrests at two of those schools, and the beat down given by football players to young people at a Georgia school and the only dicipline handed down by the then football coach was making them run laps.

Go back to the COMMUNITY SCHOOL model, get rid of all the "special" targeted schools. Give me one logical reason why a child who lives near Hamilton Place Mall is shipped all the way to Hooterville, when the closet school is Tyner? Because, the flawed educational system thinks that magnet schools are better. Then again why are children bussed from Alton Park to Hixson each and every day?

May 31, 2013 at 12:38 p.m.
klifnotes said...

December 14, 2011:

"The mother of a 14-year-old high school student has charged in a lawsuit that an Allentown cop grabbed her daughter from behind after school let out in September and fired a taser at her pelvic area.

The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania last week, alleged that Police Officer Jason Ammary did not identify himself as a lawman or accost two companions Keshana Wilson was walking with side by side at the time of the alleged incident.

After grabbing Wilson, Ammary "violently pushed" her into the side of a parked vehicle and used his right forearm to push it into her throat, the lawsuit said.

***PressTV- A Florida police officer who tasered a 20-year-old US woman until she was brain dead has been cleared of wrongdoing.

The Florida Highway Police says the officer was trying to prevent the woman from fleeing and cleared the officer of any wrongdoing this week.***

Danielle Maudsley went into a coma in September after Florida Highway Police Trooper Daniel Cole tasered her in the back as she tried to escape from the police while handcuffed.

Read more:

What will it take? There are numbers and numbers of near tragic, tragic and tragically deadly cases of people, many young, being seriously injured or dying after being Tased. WTF's gone WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY? Has everyone lost their moral compass?!! People use to have a conscious and a sense of humanity. Now it's all about control and showing who's capable of being the biggest bully and intimidator.

May 31, 2013 at 1:06 p.m.
conservative said...

Mr. Cook:

"Schools are not prisons."

Yes, you got that right but you quickly changed your mind.

Using words like "lockdown" and "corporal punishment" do not make school a prison anymore than terms such as blitz, hit, opponent, uniform, battlefield, offense, victory, defeat, raiders, attack your oppenent, injury, blow to the head, spearing, in the trenches, make football a war!


May 31, 2013 at 1:27 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Perhaps the children have no moral compass due to DR. SPOCK AND LIBERAL BELIEVERS...a conscious? Children used to behave, when they knew there would be consequences, now they just dont care...we "owe" them...

May 31, 2013 at 1:33 p.m.
jesse said...

I wonder what action David would have taken if he had been in the S,R.O.'s position!

You got a FIGHT goin on,two semi aduld females trying to claw each others eyes out ,rolling in the dirt fists flying!He can't lay hands on them so whats left? MACE ?

Give us some of your ideas on what you would have done DAVID!

May 31, 2013 at 1:44 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

ordinaryguy said...

Perhaps the children have no moral compass due to DR. SPOCK AND LIBERAL BELIEVERS...a conscious?"

Or maybe children see the hypocrisy of politicians, religious leaders, law enforcement, government, corporations, war profiteers, presidents, Congress, educational systems, and the other bs from adults who offer "Do as I say, not as I do."

May 31, 2013 at 1:45 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

david and darwin both would have probably have waived oprah's photo saying "please stop" funny that people growing up when I did had some knowledge between right and today are raised with the "if it feels good do it philosophy" if children are influenced by those other than their parents and if their parents buy into the same mindset they are in a word IDIOTS

May 31, 2013 at 1:51 p.m.
conservative said...

Regarding paddling, Mr. Cook writes:

"Why do we still allow corporal punishment? Schools are not prisons."

I must be out of touch, have Liberals like Mr. Cook gotten prisons to further coddle inmates by only paddling now?

Is no story before bedtime next?

May 31, 2013 at 1:58 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...


May 31, 2013 at 2:20 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

ordinaryguy said...


To the extent that Bush lied, made war on innocent civilians, invaded two countries, caused the deaths and disfigurement of American servicemen and women, all while praying to Jesus and having the support of most Christian fundamentalists, he does deserve credit for his portion.

Much the same as you, ordinaryguy, failed to use proper punctuation in your last post. Next time wave a grammar book in front of your own face and read it.

May 31, 2013 at 2:26 p.m.
conservative said...

Mr. Cook writes:

"Yet when encountering two students fighting each other last week at LaFayette High, the school's resource officer responded with actions more appropriate for criminals or inmates."

"He drew his Taser and fired."

The factual side of the story is that the students knew before hand that the resource officer had a taser and was authorized to use it in such cases as the two teenage girls fighting and that the resource officer shouted warnings to stop before using it. The teenage girls stopped after he used it. Well done!

You think these two teenage girls will try this again anytime soon on school grounds?

May 31, 2013 at 2:32 p.m.
RShultz210 said...

Mr. Cook: Although I usually disagree completely with you, in this instance I am on your side. TASERs are dangerous and quite often lethal instruments of torture that have no business being used on anyone let alone on children. I quote from the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984, entry into force 26 June 1987, in accordance with article 27

PART I, Article 1 1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity....

By any rational definition, a TASER is an instrument of torture. I have had this diabolical device used on me. It was extremely painful, and I still suffer ill effects from it 5 years after the fact. Those who would quibble about the reason it was used on me and say that I should not have resisted authority miss the point completely, and their opinions are not worth arguing about. The POINT is I was tortured. I had unbelievable pain inflicted upon me to force me to comply with a demand I considered totally unreasonable. I had injuries inflicted upon me that have yet to heal, nerve damage in particular, that were unjustifiable. We have turned our schools into institutions of torture, not of learning. We now TASER children as punishment and force to them to comply with our demands and obey our rules. This makes us no better than the authoritarian governments against whom we fought in the Second World War, and against whom we still fight for reasons that are now exposed as completely hypocritical. We are among the signatories of the UN resolution against the use of torture to force compliance and punish people, yet look what we are doing to our own children. Is it any wonder the so-called 3rd world countries that we bully point this out to the rest of the world on a regular basis and hate us instead of respecting us despite all the monetary aid we send them?

May 31, 2013 at 2:34 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

darwin let us remind you of prez johnson and vietnam...and all the tragic things that happened are so quick to condemn those that dont agree with your opinion but when it is on your side of the fence you far as you elitist grammatical critique i could care less

May 31, 2013 at 2:41 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

ordinaryguy said : "as far as you (sp) elitist grammatical critique i could care less"

That's evident from your proud ignorance on the matter.

I didn't support the Vietnam War either, but conservatives did while waving the flag and yelling about those godless communists. Vietnam was another useless war trading lives for dollars in the pockets of the military and war profiteers just like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Writing in English and using correct grammar and punctuation is not elitist — it's clear communication. However, I can see where you're having problems with that due to your educational deficiencies. Perhaps if you had spent time studying to improve yourself you wouldn't appear to be such a fool.

It's not too late for you ordinaryguy. Online courses are available for the semi-literate. Make it your goal to raise your IQ to your shoe size. I don't think there's much you have to offer children as to education except as an example of what not to become.

May 31, 2013 at 3:18 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

darwin when you have been published on a national level you can speak...i have and in this type of forum, i do as i obviously do not know the history of the democratic party, the party of the klan, segregation, the mafia and their marriage to the labor unions...i however refrain from name calling, etc which is the preferred method of argument from the left..

May 31, 2013 at 4 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

ordinaryguy said...

"darwin when you have been published on a national level you can speak...i have and in this type of forum, i do as i obviously do not know the history of the democratic party, the party of the klan, segregation, the mafia and their marriage to the labor unions...i however refrain from name calling, etc which is the preferred method of argument from the left.."

It's easy to see that you're due for the Nobel Prize in literature. Have your passport ready for a trip to Sweden.

Just so I may marvel at your nation level credentials, what publication did you write for and where might someone read your efforts? I trust you had an editor if your current skill level is indicative of your prowess.

I am anxiously awaiting your reply.

May 31, 2013 at 4:29 p.m.
dao1980 said...

So ordinaryjerk "could care less" huh... WELL! LETS SEE IT!!

It's, "couldn't" care less, by the way. When you state that you "could" care less.. you imply that you care.. dumbass

May 31, 2013 at 4:34 p.m.
jesse said...

Darwin startin to sound a LOT like Easy 123!

May 31, 2013 at 4:44 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

so is dao...when all else fails name call...typical leftist namecalling...

May 31, 2013 at 4:50 p.m.
dao1980 said...

jesse startin to sound allot like (enter any random name here).

Sorry.. it seemed obligatory.. it is Friday ya know!

May 31, 2013 at 4:51 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

thank (enter non-religious expression here) its friday

May 31, 2013 at 4:53 p.m.
dao1980 said...

I'm so sorry.. for my centrist name calling.

I just thought that you wanted your ideas to be taken seriously, and then completely ruined that possibility by misusing a popular cliche.

Hey! Now you know for next time.. right?

How about we all say screw this nonsense and go play golf? I know jesse would be down with that.

May 31, 2013 at 4:56 p.m.
jesse said...

Was supposed to play today(after work)and found out they had a tourn.startin at 1:00 pm!

May 31, 2013 at 5:11 p.m.
klifnotes said...

nbcphilly/watch video of 14yr old gettng Tased in pelvic walking with friends after SCHOOL let out:

May 31, 2013 at 5:17 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

sounds like a plan but I must leave one job and go to the next...although at least nine holes would be fantastic today...

May 31, 2013 at 5:37 p.m.
conservative said...

Mr. Cook writes:

"When an armed, trained police officer uses his Taser on two high school teenage girls -- and is applauded for it -- then we have reached a point of societal confusion where we no longer distinguish between prison and schoolyard.

"When an armed, trained police officer.."

One can only imagine the outcry and criticism if the officer had not been trained.

.. "then we have reached a point of societal confusion where we no longer distinguish between prison and schoolyard."

Well, Mr. Cook writes as though he is confused and has not distinguished between prison and a schoolyard.

May 31, 2013 at 6:47 p.m.
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