“Do all men get to do this with me?”
This is a unique interview. Deion’s major life events are well documented, due to court actions and hospital records, and the mindset of at least some of the “all is well” denial by the Huntingdon townspeople is documented by newspaper opinion letters.
It is sad that for pretty much every single one of Deion’s Huntingdon paddlings, from Kindergarten on, she was being raped on the outside at the same time. She could have, literally, been pregnant for any one of her paddlings where she would have been old enough to be pregnant – and even 10-year-old girls have been known to be pregnant.
Sometimes paddle supporters argue for paddling to “keep people out of prison.” Some note that they were paddled, and they didn’t go to prison, so “therefore” paddling must prevent prison. The fact is that most people are not paddled, and paddled or not, most people do not go to prison. Statistically, however, the highest rate prison incarceration states are all paddling states.
But statistics don’t help us to really understand the dynamics of how “one hand washes the other” with home abuse and school abuse. Statistics do not help us feel in our guts how routine child abuse, at every level of society, can lead to lifetime “acting out” in addictions, exploitive relationships, and with female victims especially, extreme submissiveness to brutal and controlling men.
Behind the statistics, this very personal look into one young woman’s horrendous Huntingdon, Tennessee childhood shows how her paddling school, far from being a “safe haven” from child abuse, instead added to it. Her school paddling “felt just like the rapes.” The continuous threat of sexualized brutality “felt just like home.”
Maybe, had she found relief at school instead of more abuse, she would have developed just enough sexual dignity and self-confidence to be able to “just say no” to controlling men when she needed to have that ability. Maybe if Huntingdon got out of the child abuse business and set an educated example, the less educated outside community would move more away from physical and sexual violence too. Instead Huntingdon Schools were a part of the problem, and her school reinforced Deion’s continuous physical and sexual abuse.
Most young people who suffer from any kind of degrading child abuse, including paddling, tend to “push it out of mind” and “move on” as best they can. They might be negatively affected, or sexualized to it, but they keep it all inside. Most, like Deion, thus don’t come to oppose paddling until it affects their own children. Often parents of children in high-rate paddling schools like Huntingdon feel powerless to stop the systematic child abuse at school, but none so powerless as Deion, who is serving a life sentence in prison.
Deion’s own paddle abuse years ago in Huntingdon, Tennessee, came flooding back when she learned that her 13-year-old cheerleader daughter was paddled in that same Huntingdon Junior High School, like her, by a male teacher for a very trivial violation. (Not that children should be abused for any kind of violation, but that it is meted out for the most trivial reasons imaginable to otherwise very good students shows how much at least some paddlers at Huntingdon like to dish it out).
Deion was horrified to learn that paddling, that she thought was in her past, was now affecting her children, and was still “routine” at Huntingdon. Suddenly her school child abuse came back with a vengeance, literally attacking her daughter in the very way that she was attacked, at the very same school, nearly twenty years later.
Being abused at school certainly does not imply that her daughter will wind up in prison, but that little girl, already trying do deal with her mother’s imprisonment, was negatively affected in hidden, lifetime ways by “bending over” for a paddling, just as her mother was 20 years before. Every Huntingdon student, both victims and witnesses, are negatively affected for life as well.
From her prison cell, a desperate Deion appealed to school officials at Huntingdon, as well as to the local newspaper, the Carroll County News-Leader.