State Rep. Gail Finney, an African-American Democrat from Wichita, Kansas, says she wants to allow up to 10 strikes of the hand, which can leave marks or bruises, by teachers at schools in her state. Finney introduced House Bill 2699, sparking a national debate about whether children, especially African-Americans, should be exposed to physical discipline when violence is plaguing our nation’s youth.
Although Kansas is one of 19 states which allows teachers and caregivers to spank children, leaving marks or welts is not permitted. Why the call for harder hitting? What impact does a red mark or welt have on a child or student in comparison to a non-bruising hit?
In the African-American community, spanking your child is almost custom. While some frown upon it, others argue that it is the “iron rod” that keeps most unruly children in line. But does it draw the line when punishment leaves marks on the skin? Or are the marks a mere reminder of what not to do?
My parents are Black and they used physical discipline, which, in retrospect, I am a fan of. It was effective because I can recall needing a pop for a smart comment every once in a while. Spankings were also effective in our household because my siblings and I did not like to “get in trouble,” lose privileges, get a spanking or disappoint our parents. Physical punishment was supposed to be the “last result,” and it was how we really knew we disappointed mom and dad.
However, I could not imagine going to a school where my teachers were given the power to strike me at their will.
While I understand the implication of restoring order and respect, many children will not take a spanking by the hand of an adult who is not their parent lightly. For some, it is OK if a parent or relative spanks your child because it is assumed that they are working collectively to raise children and possess similar parenting skills, morals and values.
But does a teacher or caregiver in a public institution have that same approach?
What do you think?
Follow Dominique Zonyéé on Twitter: @DominiqueZonyee.
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