On Wednesday, students from across the country staged a massive walkout to demonstrate against the countless number of recent school shootings and gun violence in general. Powerful images from the day’s many protests dominated the news cycle, and even many corporate entities joined the campaign. Yet the mass demonstrations were not welcome everywhere, as several school districts promised to punish students who participated in the event when it was first announced in February — including Greenbrier Public School in central Arkansas, which gave three such students corporal punishment (aka spanking, physical punishment, etc.) for their actions.
Jerusalem Greer, the mother of Wylie Greer, one of the three students who were punished, first drew attention to the matter on Wednesday. “My kid and two other students walked out of their rural, very conservative, public school for 17 minutes today,” she wrote on Twitter. “They were given two punishment options. They chose corporal punishment.”
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Wylie said that most of their fellow students “were vocally insulting and degrading to the idea of the walk-out and anyone who would participate.” Even so, they chose to go outside at 10 am local time and remain there for 17 minutes (for the 17 people killed in Parkland, Florida). Despite the school principal asking “if we understood that there would be consequences,” and the dean of students telling them to go inside, Greer and the other two students remained outside until their time was up. That’s when the dean gave them “two choices of punishment”: in-school suspension or corporal punishment.
The dean-of-students carried it out while the assistant principal witnessed. The punishment was not dealt with malice or cruelty, in fact, I have the utmost respect for all the adults involved. They were merely doing their job as the school board and school policy dictated. The ‘swats’ were not painful or injuring. It was nothing more than a temporary sting on my thighs. The dean-of-students did stress however that not all punishments like this ended this way.
I believe that corporal punishment has no place in schools, even if it wasn’t painful to me. The idea that violence should be used against someone who was protesting violence as a means to discipline them is appalling. I hope that this is changed, in Greenbrier, and across the country.
Per a Washington Post report conducted four years ago, Arkansas is one of 19 states that still allows corporal punishment to be administered. The Daily Beast notes that Greenbrier Public School “first adopted the seemingly outdated disciplinary policy in 2005 and last updated it in 2012.”
(Via The Daily Beast)