Just paddle them

Just paddle them

July 13th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

Consider afresh the plight of the elderly bus monitor in upstate New York who was bullied and taunted mercilessly by middle schoolers in a video that went viral on the Internet. Their viciousness extended even to jabbing the woman and making fun of her for having a son who committed suicide.

The four boys will be suspended from their regular school for a year - and won't be eligible for transportation on regular school buses. They also will have to do some community service on behalf of senior citizens.

We would be hard pressed to say that is not a deserved punishment.

But we're even harder pressed to understand why their behavior couldn't have been curtailed long before it reached such a sickening climax - with something as simple as the judicious use of corporal punishment.

Yes, there we go. We said it: Paddle them.

The bleeding hearts will no doubt stream forth, denouncing those who "hit people who hit people to teach them that hitting people is wrong" - as if there were no moral difference between bullying and correcting the bully. (For further comparison, is it also inappropriate to imprison people who falsely imprison people to teach him that falsely imprisoning people is wrong?)

This is pretty simple stuff, really.

These students had previously abused the bus monitor in question, apparently without significant consequences. Indeed, she feared for her job if she had responded decisively to their sorry behavior.

But what if we lived in a different universe, where common sense rather than political correctness reined?

Let's suppose that after the first incident of somewhat - but not extremely - disrespectful language toward the monitor, she had simply been able to call the school and advise a stout, helpful assistant principal of what had happened. Let us further suppose that the assistant principal had then calmly met the boys as they exited the bus and equally calmly led them to his office. And let us suppose, finally, that he had quietly explained the behavioral expectations of students on school buses - then lit up their rear ends with the business end of a paddle and marched them back to the bus to apologize to the woman they had mistreated.

It is highly doubtful that those boys or others who learned of their fate would have dared to smart off to the bus monitor again - much less to the degree that a lack of meaningful discipline in the school eventually allowed the abuse to reach. Kids don't like paddlings. Never have. Never will.

And again, as much as they may now deserve the long-term suspension they face, it would have been far preferable to rein them in early by sensible use of the board of education before the behavior became so appalling as to require severe measures that will disrupt their schooling.

Paddling isn't the right response to every misdeed by students, but until recently in our history, it had a well-justified place in America's schools. The fact that that is generally no longer the case is not progress.