On September 10, 2018, Lauren von Bernuth, writing for Citizen Truth, reported that a Georgia charter school had reinstated an outdated form of school punishment for the 2018-2019 academic school year. Consent forms were sent to the parents of each child at the Georgia School for Innovation and Classics, asking for their permission to inflict corporal punishment, within means, on their children, as part of the school’s new three strike policy.
Von Bernuth reported that over one hundred consent forms were returned to the school and about one third of parents will allow their children to be paddled. This law would apply only to students between Kindergarten and 9th grade. Students will face corporal punishment as a consequence of their third documented infraction. Children of parents who did not give consent will be suspended from school for five days if they receive a third strike. Citizen Truth quotes directly from the consent form, highlighting that students will be brought into an office with closed doors and will “place their hands on their knees … and will be struck on the buttocks with a paddle.”
CNN and USA Today both reported on the story about the Georgia charter school’s new corporal punishment policy, however neither outlet adequately covered the deeper facts of the story. CNN reported that “No more than three licks should be given [to] the fully clothed child, according to the form,” but did not go into further detail on what the form said. CNN and USA Today focused on the salaciousness of the act of paddling, not the disputed legitimacy of corporal punishment. Citizen Truth, by contrast, provided greater detail on the school’s three strike policy and what exactly it would take for the child to be paddled. Von Bernuth’s coverage also called attention to school’s form seeking parental consent. Neither CNN or USA Today included any debate on whether corporal punishment is a positive or negative factor in the development of a child’s behavior in the classroom, or the ethical implications of the school’s policy.
Lauren von Bernuth, “Georgia Charter School Asks Parents to Sign ‘Consent to Paddle Form’, Reinstates Corporal Punishment,” Citizen Truth, September 10, 2018, https://citizentruth.org/georgia-charter-school-paddling-children/.
Student Researchers: Anthony Amaral, Pia Belmonte, Michelle Minchello, and Rachel Puntin (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
Faculty Evaluator: Allison Butler (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)