Many of these columns focus on the days I was in school in the ’60s and ’70s. It was a time when we said the Pledge of Allegiance in school, we prayed in school, and when we misbehaved, we felt the wood from a paddle on our behinds.
I mentioned the paddlings in a column a long time ago and someone blistered me pretty good on the comment section for condoning child abuse.
I can remember my daddy taking me to North Canton Elementary and telling the principal Lee Roy Tippens that if I misbehaved to wear me out.
He further told him to call him and let him know and I would get another one when I got home.
This conversation and the knowledge that it would all come to pass went a long way in deterring me from misbehaving.
Before someone feels the need to scold me for writing this, let me say I in no way condone the abuse of any child. As a matter of fact, I worked crimes against children for several years. I have seen abuse first hand. It is ugly in every way. I have locked up the abusers and slept like a baby that night.
But the corporal punishment I received wasn’t abuse. It was a deterrent.
It does make sense to me that we have evolved into a society that is more sensitive to the needs of our children. Improvements have been made in many areas of education and how we handle children when they misbehave.
So I am not judging the way teachers and administrators dealt with students in my day or today. All I am saying is that things have changed.
When I was a senior in high school, I took Aubrey Yawn’s shop class. I explained to Mr. Yawn that I wasn’t mechanically minded but I wouldn’t cause him any trouble if he would just let me take his class. He was nice enough to let me take his class without a whole lot of participation.
There was a bully in Mr. Yawn’s class who gave him and the students fits. One day, the boy picked on me.
Instead of reporting it like I should have, I handled it myself. My daddy wouldn’t have been too receptive to me coming home and complaining about a bully. He really was old school.
That little stint ended with me in Ronnie Smith’s office. Mr. Smith said rather than suspend me, he would just give me three licks with the paddle for six weeks. Uh, OK. On the fifth week of this torment, witnessed by teachers Ruth Moss and Cathy Dobson, he asked me if I would prefer five licks to get it over with. He said he would give me three right handed and two left handed. Home free, I thought.
Ronnie Smith is just as good, if not better, with his left hand as his right one. As for Mr. Yawn, I think me getting paddled hurt him worse than what I did. Even teachers get tired of bullies.
Ronnie Smith is a friend. Aubrey Yawn is a friend. Mr. Yawn just recently had a heart attack and is recovering. I assure that there are many former students praying for his speedy recovery.
I want to finish by saying bullying can be a real problem in our schools if not dealt with swiftly and harshly. Young victims of bullying have even taken their own life to escape the torture at the hands of these cowards.
So by whatever means necessary, I hope our system deals with this issue with the seriousness it deserves. No student should ever have to go to school with fear of another student.
I don’t condone handling it like I did. But bullies should be reported on every incident. If they aren’t stopped, they will continue to be bullies as adults.
As far as I am concerned, a student who bullies another should be kicked out of the system. You may think that too harsh of a punishment. Don’t tell me.
Try telling that to the parents of a child that committed suicide over continued incidents of bullying.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.