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Responsibility in Schools

February 27, 1996

No wonder so many people are messed up! Your article ("Paddling Doesn't Teach Responsibility," Dialogue, Feb. 20) is part of the fundamental problem with our society. As a child who was rarely but deservedly spanked for transgressions, it is clear that the current attitude is laughable. I guarantee that after my father explained succinctly why I was being spanked (one swift swat on the posterior) and told me that he hated to do it (evident by the tears in his eyes) I never did that again.

Responsibility? How the heck do you expect children to learn it? Certainly not by osmosis, nor by protecting their self-esteem. Self-esteem is earned, not passed on genetically or given as a bequeath.

There is a huge difference between child abuse and appropriate discipline, which does not always include punishment--but sometimes it does. No, I don't feel that it is a teacher's place to swat my child. However, many fine teachers have left the profession because there was no control in their environment--the classroom. Caring, loving control bears the fruits of respectful, thoughtful children who may do wrong from time to time, but understand the differences as well as the consequences of the wrong.

SANDRA ADAMS

Agoura

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In excluding paddling from the schools, what has resulted is vastly detrimental to the educational system and society because even mild forms of corporal punishment are excluded. Sadly, many teachers are being chastised and even removed from their assignment for employing, when needed, light physical contact on their students in order to punctuate verbal instruction. Thus, educators are forced to go to great lengths in their dealings with minor misconduct. Certainly, this may partially explain why "teachers are not unsympathetic to calls for reviving spanking in public schools."

GLENN R. DUNLOP

Los Angeles

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Two letters from students at Washington Independent School in Colton who studied the so-called "paddling bill," which failed recently in Sacramento:

I think it's a good idea if kids have some sort of fear. That will probably make most kids stop and think first, instead of just thinking they can get away with something. I know for a fact that would have helped me out a lot. I would probably still be in normal high school instead of where I am now. I do not think most kids will agree with me, but I really think they should pass the paddling law. I think after being hit once, I seriously doubt that you will have repeat offenders.

JARROD MACIAS

Colton

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I know that kids sometimes deserve to be spanked, but it is not up to the school to decide. Instead of spanking the children, the children should be suspended or another possible punishment found. Maybe those who get in trouble can be kept in a classroom and do schoolwork for a certain amount of days. Sort of like study hall except the work will not be counted toward your grade and you can only leave to go home or go to the bathroom--no P.E. or recess.

SHEILA PAVLOVICH

Colton

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