“I agree with you that paddling is especially inappropriate for teenagers, who are trying to find their identities and are becoming more conscience of their bodies, and where [sexual] humiliation and embarrassment are necessarily present, especially with girls. Although the vice-principal acted business-like in my case, it was nonetheless embarrassing and humiliating for me (not to mention very painful).”
“Laura’s” Dallas area paddling would have taken place around 1979-1980, just as men began paddling teen girls more, and about the same time as the paddling that the U.S. Senate considered. Since that time, although some Dallas area schools have gotten out of the paddling business, the paddle policies have grown even worse in the ones that continued, both in terms of brutality, as well as in terms of sexual abusiveness. Teen girls in Dallas area paddling school districts today might be paddled many times more often than she, for even more trivial offenses, right through graduation day.
As we’ve commonly seen, this paddling school was extremely abusive over trivial rule violations from students, yet the paddlers themselves violated many rules every time they picked up the paddle. I rather doubt, with all of the other rules that were violated, that this paddling was officially recorded.
Letter from “Laura”
Growing up just outside of Charleston, West Virginia, I was a generally well-behaved kid in the public school system. Corporal punishment was practiced, but didn't seem to be overly-exercised. It was not a concern for most students that I knew. I don't remember much about it. It didn't seem to be big ordeal or anything.
We moved to the Dallas, Texas public schools when I was in junior high. I received a harsh paddling for tardies, four licks from a male A.P., that almost produced tears. The pain was such that I knew what students meant when they referred to "burning some off" (demerits).
I was 14 years old, and the paddling was given by a male vice-principal. He seemed very business-like about it. He violated a few paddling rules, however, such as he was supposed to give a choice of detentions, he didn’t get a witness, etc.
He asked, what seemed to me, the unusual question of whether I wanted the swats fast or slow. When I didn't answer, he just gave them fast. I was very shocked at how violently hard he hit me. The pain was incredible.
You are correct that the Dallas area was known as a place where corporal punishment was more frequently practiced than in other paddling areas, and that the sheer volume of paddling there makes the possibility of abuse more prevalent. Fellow students told me a number of stories about paddling in the Dallas area elementary and middle schools that, to me, sounded definitely abusive.
I agree with you that paddling is especially inappropriate for teenagers, who are trying to find their identities and are becoming more conscience of their bodies, and where [sexual] humiliation and embarrassment are necessarily present, especially with girls. Although the vice-principal acted business-like in my case, it was nonetheless embarrassing and humiliating for me (not to mention very painful).
By the way, maybe others around that time and place will recognize my paddler’s name [anonymized for this interview—Jeff], either from Jefferson High School, where I went, or from Mesquite High School. He had a brother (or just an odd coincidence of same name and face) who was also an administrator at Mesquite High who delivered the well known paddling to a teen girl in the early 80's that made the news when she refused to be paddled again. She was suspended from school and could not return to school until she took her licks. The newspapers made a big deal of it at the time, with first sentences to a front page article reading, “Tamara Mae has four licks with a paddle waiting for her if, and whenever she returns to school.”