Fun fact: Florida is one of 19 states where hitting kids who are participating mandatory public schooling with a paddle is completely legal in some districts. While some schools seek parental permission, those signatures—or lack thereof—may not hold much weight when a principal gets peeved:
Last year, the principal at Joyce Bullock Elementary sent home a waiver asking parents for permission to paddle students. [Parent Tenika] Jones says she didn't sign it, but her son, Geirrea Bostick, was paddled anyway.
He was 5 at the time and it was his second week of preschool. Gierrea says the principal spanked him twice for slapping another boy on the school bus. He says the principal first told him to take his jacket off. "Then [she] spank me on my booty," Gierrea says. "I cried all the way home. It was really hard."
Gierrea's mom says the paddling left welts on Gierrea's bottom, and she was outraged.
"If I would have hit my son how she hit him, I would have been in jail, I would have been on the news, I would have been messed up trying to get my children back," Jones says. "She whipped him up and to me that's child abuse."
Jones is in the process of suing the Levy County School District for paddling her son without her permission. But Robert Rush, an attorney at the law firm representing Jones says state law does not require schools to get parental consent.
For wiser (and perhaps slightly hasty) words on the subject, let's turn to neuroscientist Steven Pinker, who has authored a book on the dramatic decline of violence over the course of human history. We tend to think of wars and other violent conflict between adults, but violence against children goes into the tallies, too. Ironically, Pinker notes that an increase in education corresponds to a decline in violence:
The other thing that happened in the second half of the 20th century is that more people went to school for longer periods of time. There was a huge increase even in traditional media, like book publishing. More recently, we have the Internet, and social media, and all of those developments. But we just live in a more intellectualized world, and certain customs that were just defended—either by sheer tradition or by appealing to religious sources like the Bible, or they just felt selfishly to be ways of getting what we want, such as getting rid of annoying behavior by children, or rape in the case of sexuality—the more you think about what it's like to be a victim of those forms of exploitation, the more you try to apply some kind of rationally designed rules that apply to everyone, the more you're going to get rid of those forms of traditional oppression and violence.
Enjoy the full Pinker-Bailey exchange at Reason.tv: