Putting Education Reform To The Test

Why School Leaders Say There’s Nothing Sexual About Paddling Students

Sarah Gonzalez / StateImpact Florida

Melynda Howell is the guidance counselor at Sneads High School in Jackson County Fla. She said paddling is not considered sexual in her small town.

Our story on Florida schools that paddle students was picked up by NPR and we’ve gotten some comments from folks who wondered about a sexual element to spanking.

John Shelley (JackinVosburg) wrote:
Why do they hit the kids in the butt? Is this a sexual thing?
Conky Swayze (Conky) wrote:
There’s so much sexual connotation with spanking that it does walk in that grey area.

Some who have been on the receiving end of a paddle say people outside of their community just don’t understand their culture. 

Melynda Howell is the guidance counselor at Sneads High School in Jackson County Fla., which uses corporal punishment.

She graduated from the high school and said the last time she got a spanking from a male principal, she was 13 years old, and she had gotten in a fight with another girl in the school.

“We don’t see any sexual element whatsoever,” Howell said. “The principal was a male authority figure just like my father, so there was no difference to us, to me.”

Sneads, Fla. is a small town in the Florida Panhandle with a population of about 2,000.

Howell says in this part of the rural north, high school girls and boys are not considered too old to get a spanking at school.

“Most kids in our area have that type of discipline at home so they’re more comfortable with it in the school environment, Howell said.

“If you don’t experience that in California or at home, of course you would not be as comfortable with that at the school level.”

Schools with paddling polices are required by law to bring in a witness, and notify the parents after the punishment is administered.

But most schools volunteer to ask parents for permission before students are paddled.

The Community Trusts School Administrators

Some Florida schools, like Sneads High School, have polices where school administrators can only spank students of the same gender.

The principal of the school, Laurence Pender, says he has never hit a female student. For that he calls in his assistant principal, Faye Parker.

“It’s not something that is joked about or laughed about. It’s a very serious thing. It’s punishment.”

- Laurence Pender, principal at Sneads High School in Jackson County, Fla.

But Pender says his small town would support him if he did paddle female students. He says parents expect him to act like a parent to students under his supervision.

“Its not something that is joked about or laughed about. It’s a very serious thing,” Pender said. “It’s punishment.”

Schools that want to use corporal punishment have to apply every three years, and hear testimony from parents in the community. 

Outside of the Panhandle, the community in rural Madison, Fla. decided high school students are too mature to get paddled, according to Willie Williams, principal at Madison County Central elementary and middle school.

The community decided teenage girls and boys in middle school can still be paddled.

And Williams says the community trusts the school administrators to discipline students in this way.

He says school corporal punishment works well in a small town because everyone knows each other.

“If I were in a big community, where I wasn’t known, where I didn’t get a chance to speak at church, for students to know that I know their parents an their uncles and aunts, I don’t think it would be possible in an urban area. I really don’t.”


  • ga

    What does the school do if the child is in child bearing age. I am sure they don’t do pregnancy tests. Striking a female that might be pregnant, puts the fetus at risk.  I can’t believe this article

  • Search “Spanking Paddles” and you will learn that “Spanking” and “Corporal Punishment” are heavily associated with the Pornography Industry!  In fact, the only Professions where people hit others with “Paddles” are Prostitution, Pornographic Actors and School Teachers, Coaches and Administrators in 19 U.S. States, as the other majority of 31 U.S. States have Abolished School Corporal Punishment!
    Sadist Pedophile School Headmaster/images show Slade speaking in favour of corporal punishment during an interview for ITN in 1982/  BBC do c umentary “An Abuse of Trust” by journalist Roger Cook is being scree ne d almost 30 years after the veteran reporter first exposed Slade’s  sad istic activities at a school in Suffolk http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-14215425 Over a dozen high school Girls Spanked by male high school principal, Suspended for Skimpy Prom Dresses
    Alabama High School boasts very strict dress code
    View article at http://www.newser.com/story/85024/girls-spanked-suspended-for-skimpy-prom-dresses.html
       Investigators say a Polk County, FL sheriff’s detention deputy filmed herself strapping naked children to a desk and whipping them brutally, then sent the videos to a boyfriend she met on a fetish website.
    On Tuesday, 45-year-old Robin Leigh Pagoria was charged with aggravated child abuse, production of child pornography, promotion of child pornography and possession of child pornography.http://www.sun-sentinel.com/os-polk-detention-deputy-charged-20110526,0,400179.story  Subject: Project Safe Childhood (“PSC”), a national initiative to combat the gr owing epidemic of sexually exploiting children, particularly via the
    InternetA 49-year-old former special education teacher for the St. Paul Public School District pleaded guilty earlier today in federal court in Minneapolis to producing and possessing child pornography. Appearing before United States District Court Judge Joan N. Ericksen, Gregg Alan Larsen, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. Larsen was indicted on May 20, 2010.In his plea agreement, Larsen admitted that in April of 2006, he took digital photographs of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The child was younger than 12 years of age and was in Larsen’s care. Larsen also admitted that he intended to distribute the images on the Internet. In addition, Larsen admitted that from June through July of 2006, he produced digital photographs of a second child younger than 12 years of age, intending to distribute those photos on the Internet too. Larsen also admitted that on July 1, 2009, he possessed eight video files containing child pornography as well as more than 600 images containing child pornography. The items were kept on Larsen’s home computer.Larsen faces a potential maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for production of child pornography, with a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years. On the possession charge, he faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The exact sentence, as well as whether prison time for the two charges will run concurrently or consecutively, will be determined by Judge Ericksen at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled. Note, however, the federal system does not have parole. As a result, an offender serves virtually the entire sentence imposed.This case is the result of an investigation by the Minnesota Cyber Crime Task Force, sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Steinkamp.The case is also part of Project Safe Childhood (“PSC”), a national initiative to combat the growing epidemic of sexually exploiting children, particularly via the Internet. PSC was launched by the U.S. Department of Justice in May of 2006. Led by the Department’s Criminal Division, Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, along with U.S. Attorney’s nationwide, PSC encourages federal, state, and local law enforcement partnerships and provides resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who abuse children while identifying and rescuing victims of that crime. In 2008, PSC was credited with 2,289 child-pornography indictments being filed in federal court nationwide, a 33-percent increase over 2006. For more information about PSC, visit http://www.projectsafechildhood.govhttp://7thspace.com/headlines/350374/minnesota_special_education_teacher_pleads_guilty_to_%20child_pornography_charges.html
    NEWS VIDEO:  Arkansas girl’s paddling by male school administrator draws blood, leaves bruises/ video includes graphic color photos of severe bruising injuries taken 5 days after paddling  Prosecutors decline to bring charges, school board ignores parents.http://nwahomepage.com/fulltext/?nxd_id=201297
     The FBI is investigating a child porn case at a school.Elem. Schl Aide’s self produced child porn videos included two taken in a school classroom, one of Brooks touching a child’s genitals and an other of him spanking a naked child, the complaint says. http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local/new_york&id=8534214&status=ok  Counting on lawmakers and school employees, paid your tax dollars to be entrusted with the care and education of your child to keep them safe? Think Again! Child Protection: Direct Conflict:  Politics Over 20-years Research: Modern Medicine: “Spanking should not be used as discipline, says study” Cites 20 years research findings that spanking kids can cause long-term harm http://www.modernmedicine.com/modernmedicine/ModernMedicine+Now/Spanking-should-not-be-use d-as-discipline-says-stu/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/758397?contextCategoryId=40196 National Protest Against School Corporal Punishment will be held at TN State Capitol in Nashville Thursday, April 5, 2012 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to Demand Governor Haslam and TN lawmakers Abolish Paddling (Sexual Assault when done to a non-consenting adult)/Pain to Punish Tennessee students K-12, already Illegal in Nashville Schools and Schools in 31 U.S. States.  Search “A Violent Education” for disturbing facts including graphic descriptions of injuries to students, “Teacher Immunity Laws” and No Legal Redress, even the U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear school corporal punishment appeals!  Support Federal Bill H.R. 3027 “The Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act” , languishing in U.S. Congress NOW, at donthitstudents dot com   

  • Think about it, if a parent, Police Officer, or Judge hit any person or animal with a wooden board in Public, they’d face assault charges!  Why is it ok for school employees to hit schoolchildren behing the locked doors of taxpayer funded schools?

    If your community believed in slavery should the U.S. Government simply turn a blind eye?

  • Even if there’s no sexual intent on the part of a school administrator, how can they possibly tell if the student will process it as a sexual thing?  If there are “adult” stores out there selling paddles, that should kind of be a tip-off that there are some people who are turned on by that. There’s a screenshot of a fetishist asking about teachers that would be willing to paddle adults at  http://facebookwatcher.blogspot.com/2010/11/creepy-groups-and-users.html .  I’d assume that a school might call the police if someone actually showed up soliciting this.  So it’s a bit ironic that they do it to kids.

  • Another thing — if the school administrators indeed consider paddling to be non-sexual, would they consider it a problem if they found a student downloading images and videos depicting people getting paddled?  Because if it’s not sexual, then how could material like that be considered porn?

    • paul pinson

      right on man

  • Wadeditty

    I think school paddlers are perverts.  

    • joeymadden

      You are ABSOLUTELY correct! You can never know who is a pervert and who is not. There have been police, school administrators, city officials etc that have been arrested for abuse and there are no ‘tests’ that are used to determine what teacher or what principal is or is not an abuser.
      When I attended a school that allowed assaulting students there was a teacher there I could tell was gay (this is not a gay thing but I knew he was gay) and I could also tell he enjoyed hitting boys. Do you know how I could tell? Because I am gay and you may have heard or not heard of ‘gaydar.’
      This is not to specifically target gays as there were female abusers also at the school. Besides is this what teachers went to college for in the first place?
      The point is that these ARE sexual assaults as the buttocks, just like breasts etc are sexual erogenous zones and the backward laws need to be changed

  • Footboard1

    if paddlings were not sex motavated then why are there millions of spanking sites on the net, you damm right some school teachers do get thier rocks off by paddling students and if they say they don,t they are lieing, ha ha the perfect job if you are a prevert and you can get away with it,, just let 1 teacher hit my kid  and there will be a court date,, hmmm maby today i will just go out and hit some dogs&cats with a paddle, you know damm well i would be on the 6 pm news and in jail too, case closed as perry mason would say!

  • Genng

    Why so much focus on male paddling female?  What about a gay male paddling a male?  And so on.

  • Phoenixmichaelson

    Currently in the U.S.:

    When an adult does it to another adult, its sexual battery:

    When children do it to adults, its a “deviant sexual prank”:

    When an adult does it to a person under the age of 18, its “good discipline”.

    Spanking Kids Increases Risk of Sexual Problems

    The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
    by Tom Johnson

    “Spanking” can be intentional or unintentional sexual abuse

  • anon

    One of the problems of sexual abuse is that the VICTIM will not come forward, will not speak out due to embarassment and will blame themselves and the abuser will excuse away his or her behavior. Seems like a lot of people in this world are clueless and need a lot of education on this issue.  just my opinion

  • Eleven years ago, a Canadian school principal was busted for possessing
    child pornography. Specifically, he collected pictures of children
    being spanked. Turns out he’d also spanked a number of students during
    his career.

    In 2002, the FBI broke up a nationwide child-spanking pornography
    ring–one member of which was an elementary school teacher in a small town in Alabama. Some even made films using their own kids, who
    could be heard tearfully pleading their innocence.

    Now, it’s not really news that spanking can take on sexual
    overtones, as anyone who’s seen “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” can
    tell you. If you doubt it, just type “spanking” into a search engine
    and see what kind of results you get. And since there are people out
    there who are sexually drawn to children, it figures that some would
    enjoy spanking them.

    Tragically for many victims, though, society has mostly failed to
    recognize the potential for sexual abuse in the practice of spanking
    children or even young adults. Perpetrators often deflect suspicion
    simply by playing the discipline card.

    It’s high time we stopped being naive and woke up to this problem. You can learn more at http://www.nospank.net/101.htm and http://www.nopaddle.com.

  • John Wilwerding
  • Rakovsky

    I love how NPR portraying the story as if beating young adults’ private areas is a fascinating school practice. “Do to others what you would have them do to you” is the golden rule. Would the school teachers and their NPR lackeys like it if they were beaten on their private areas for things like showing up a few minutes late to work.

    NPR’s carelessness about Young Adults being beaten should remind you, Dear Reader, of the heartlessness of the world and your duty to be a valiant light unto the millions in darkness. Be bold and step in when you see children being hit!


  • Don Reich

    The idea of there being some sort of “sexual element” in principals or teachers paddling the opposite sex is total nonsense. It’s another asinine idea cooked up by the liberal left to discourage proper discipline…..especially when it pertains to females or minorities. The teachers in the schools I attended knew no race, sex, or religion. I’ve seen female teachers humble many a misbehaving male student with the paddle. And almost every student who happened to be on the receiving end, ended up showing a lot more respect after they got their backside dusted. The same goes for female students, who sometimes make up the “elite” in unruly behavior. A girl in my science class cursed our teacher in the 8th grade. She was sent to the principal’s office, and there she got the paddling she deserved. There was always a witness to make sure nothing abusive or sexual was taking place. At best, that girl got exactly what her own father would’ve dished out at home for the same offense.

    • blwpyrtv

      Google search: Robin Pagoria

    • Jim Prokop

      Don you are a perfect nut-case and a pervert as well. Is respect what is all about,Don? How about if you don’t respect me and my views… maybe “busting” YOUR backside would get ME a little more respect! Or, just maybe, when I was in the money collection for most of my like “busting” a few back-side would have produced a few payments and no more delinquency. Problem is, we call that Mafia style collection and would have landed ME in jail. Think about it, Don! Get out of backwater USA and talk to some educated people and I won’t have to listen for the banjo.

  • Michael Fuson

    How many cases in the last few years of kinds being molested by a teacher? This is on the rise. so yea these days it’s very likely a teacher can do it for some sort of sick sexual gratification. remember folks this isn’t the 1950′s people are sick and perverted these days.

  • Ric Martyniuk

    Middle age men bending over teen age girls and spanking there ass black and blue, nothing sexual about it ? Sounds pretty purvy to me. It would not happen to one of my loved ones.

    • robert

      paddling was very effective punishment when I was in school, however I did find the smacking sounds of the paddle being used over and over very sexually arousing, along with the fact that the office always smelled real strong from the ammonia-like aroma of smelly wet pee, from some of the students being all scared during the long wait and peeing on themselves and on all of the seats of the office chairs again and again through the years.. and I admit hearing those loud smacks, and smelling the strong pee odor probably caused my first real horny feelings !

  • paul pinson

    i still say paddling teachers, principals,all elected lawyers, and school board will alter their lousy attitudes and their mistakes and actions plus ignoring parents and teenagers who are almost adults 16-22.

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