Folks everywhere have been debating the incident where a white Spring Valley High police officer flung a black teenage girl out of her seat onto the ground at a South Carolina high school. Many feel it was excessive force–you don’t do that to a young girl–others say she got what she deserved.
The officer was only enforcing the school rules.
She should have done what she was told.
Honestly, I was surprised by some of the support for the officer, especially coming from Black folks, but then I remembered a little thing called corporal punishment in schools, which is still legal in 19 states.
WHOP! WHOP! WHOP! Went the wooden paddle so hard across my already flat booty that it caved in, and I fell to my knees. And what was my transgression? Talking out of turn. Never mind that I was an excellent student who almost never got in trouble. It got me three whacks. I was in the 2nd grade. It would be a few years before I would get paddled again. What I did this time I don’t recall, but best believe I never did anything after that. I was at the mercy of the school – God forbid the teacher was having a bad day.
It starts as early as preschool where teachers begin popping little three and four-year-olds with rulers, and it gets re-enforced throughout the years. It’s mostly Southern states where it’s legal. Though I was shocked to discover recently that it just ended in Ohio, where I grew up, in 2009. For some reason, like a t-shirt that is too small, I thought we outgrew it. You get out into the world and realize that not everyone beats their kids, nor do they allow anyone else to do so.
But unfortunately, the paddle still comes down, and comes down harder on black students who get ‘the wood’ and get suspended at a disproportionately higher rate than white students, even though they make up less of the school population, and we still have yet to see a black kid walk into a school and spray it freely with bullets.
Clearly, we are not the ones to be feared.
Most teachers consider corporal punishment an effective way to discipline, and certain parents don’t seem to mind. In fact, many Black parents site the bible passage, “Spare the rod spoil the child,” as proof that it’s a practice supported by God. It’s hard to argue with that. God says it’s okay, so ya gotta do it. I was reading a story online about a white teacher who was new to the teaching game Down South and didn’t want to paddle students, but felt pressure not only from her teaching peers- ‘What? Do you think you’re better than us?’– but also from Black parents.
When she called to speak to a few about their kid’s misbehavior one said,‘Whup’em!’ and the other said, ‘Jesus Christ, you calling me for that? Wear him out!’
She did finally adhere to the practice a few times, but ultimately decided to find a different way to administer punishment. She never felt comfortable as a white woman paddling Black kids.
Getting back to the girl who got flung out of her desk. Now I get that the people who support this police officer more than likely believe in corporal punishment. You act out, you get hit. To them, she should have known better, after all, it is still legal in South Carolina where Spring Valley High is located. Ever heard the saying, ‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse?’
But still, corporal punishment should be obsolete. Do you really want someone else hitting your kids at their discretion? And furthermore, a grown man slamming a girl on the floor is inexcusable. He could’ve called backup.
The people supporting this policeman are as lazy as the school system allowing this to continue.
Sure, it’s easier to hit a kid, send him home, jail him, just shut him down. Apparently, it’s cheaper too. I was reading an article where a Black school administrator said that he doesn’t necessarily believe in corporal punishment, but they don’t have the money for the alternative, which is hiring counselors. Currently, they have one counselor to 500 students.
Just whip’ em!
Do you believe what the officer did was right? Do you believe in corporal punishment?
This article first appeared on Madamnoire 10/29/15