In a previous contribution to your site, I gave an overview, as it were, of how I came to be the vice-principal of a Christian School, and my basic opinions on corporal punishment.
So I thought your readers might be interested in a description of how things were actually done, in the form of a story. For obvious reasons, I will not be giving the real names of any of my students.
One of the early, highly memorable paddlings came with a 10th grade girl we’ll call Sally. Unlike a lot of my ‘guests’, she wasn’t specifically written up, but rather had hit her sixth occasion of lateness in the semester, which meant an automatic trip to my office.
When she arrived, Sally was, unsurprisingly, rather nervous. By this point, I had gotten pretty used to the way the girls usually acted, and mostly had it down to a routine. She came in, looking fraught. I gestured for Sally to take a seat and opened her file in front of her, without a word.
I checked and found she had been in the office for the same reason in two of the previous three years, but there was no record of her ever receiving corporal punishment at the school. Some detentions, once a two day stretch of on- campus suspension (essentially a detention for the entire school day) – but never the paddle.
Internally, I shook my head, again lamenting the relative soft touch girls had previously been treated with. I also knew Sally from when I had taught her previously. I knew that she wasn’t a problem child – but she was also far from being a model student. I laid down her file and fixed her with my sternest gaze, and that alone got her squirming a bit.
“So, you’ve had issues getting to class on time, Sally?” “Yes ma’am” “You’ve been sent to the office for just this thing in previous years, young lady?” She really squirmed then. “Yes ma’am.”
“Do you feel your time is more valuable than that of your classmates?” “No ma’am.” “Surely you don’t think your time is more important than that of your teachers?” “No ma’am,”
At this point, her nervousness was spilling over as I, as it were, sprung my trap. “Then you’ve decided to ignore the value of their time because you don’t respect them.” It was clearly not a question, and she now moved from being nervous to downright scared.
At that point, I picked up the phone to call her parents. I virtually ignored Sally’s presence as I did so, letting her stew – not even informing her of what her punishment would entail.
“Hello, is this Mrs Richards? Are you Sally’s mother?” I calmly informed the woman of her daughter’s offences (provoking yet more squirming from the girl opposite) and that I intended to tan her bottom with four hard swats from a wooden paddle. Now I really had Sally’s attention – but I was the one in for a surprise.
By this point in my new job, I had administered probably around two dozen paddlings. On each occasion, the girl’s parents were called before the actual spanking itself. I had become used angry parents, worried parents, disinterested parents – but Sally’s mother was about to become my first deeply involved parent.
I’ll never forget her next words. “Will you please tell my daughter that I expect her to bring a switch into the house with her.” Now, spanking was quite common in Mississippi homes during the mid-1980s. However, even then, switching seemed rather old fashioned.
However, I certainly wasn’t going to object, and I passed this message on. At that, Sally burst into tears. Her mom wasn’t done surprising me. She asked if she could listen to the paddling being given. She would later repeat this request when both Sally and her younger sister got in trouble again at school, but this was the first time I had received such a request.
I didn’t have speaker phone, so I ended up just placing the handset (this was a corded phone) on the desk near where Sally’s head would soon be.
I then finally turned my attention back to my student, who was sitting there in tears. I became rather sure that the switching in her future was going to be a doozy. But that wasn’t my concern – mine was tanning her bottom then and there.
I asked Sally her to bow her head and we prayed together for guidance and wisdom. Then she bent herself over my desk, her head near the phone, and I gently laid the board across the seat of her skirt, taking care to get it all lower than her tailbone (not easy with a school skirt, but very important).
Then I drew my arm back, under control…crack! Sally exhaled sharply at the impact on her bottom, but remained quiet. The second swat produced a yelp from the girl and a bit of moving around. The third stroke of the paddle caused Sally to move both hands from my desk to her buttocks.
I was satisfied the spanking was making an impression. I gave Sally about half a minute, then calmly asked her to resume her place, because I didn’t want to add a fifth swat. Slowly, she did so. Another sharp crack and then I told the girl: “You may stand.”
I offered Sally a Kleenex and let her sign the paddle. When when that was done, I sent the red-faced (and by now surely red-bottomed) young lady back to class.
Only after Sally had left did I remember the phone on my desk. “I’m sorry, Mrs Richards – are you still there?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied, “and you didn’t need to go so lightly on her.” I said goodbye and hung up.
By this time, I could only imagine how Sally must be feeling as she sat on her sore bottom in class, thinking about the whipping that awaited her when she returned home!