WJBF EXTRA: School Discipline Then...And Now - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

WJBF EXTRA: School Discipline Then...And Now

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Augusta, GA -

"What was corporal punishment then and now has changed," said Pat Bureau, former assistant superintendent of Richmond County Schools.

Pat Bureau would know...she worked in the Richmond County School System for more than 20 years, retiring as the Assistant Superintendent. "It's very different from when I was in the classroom, very different from 10 years ago," she said.

Maybe one of the biggest changes? Discipline.

"Oh, we would receive corporal punishment, by paddle, or in the hand with rubber straps," said Meldon Bush, who received corporal punishment as a child.

"The no pain one was, sit in the chair, in the corner, facing the wall away from the class," said Clarence Pearson, who received corporal punishment as young student.

"The old tried and true, stand in the corner for 5 minutes, 2 minutes, that's corporal punishment now...because it's physical," said Bureau.

"The other punishment that might have been a little bit painful was that little ruler the teacher always had and they gave you a little smack on the back of your hand," said Pearson.

The difference between then and now?

"That was tolerable, you didn't run home to mama and say, 'The teacher smacked me on my hand!', because the first thing mama is going to say is, 'What did she hit you for?'"  said Pearson.

But, some say that's just not the way society works anymore. "I think it's very frustrating for teachers," said Bureau.

"I've had teachers talk to me about, 'This was just a hard year.' And, because they are not able to discipline the kids," said Janet Thornburg, who has friends who are teachers.

So, what can a teacher do? How do you educate a classroom of 20 or 30 students, when you have to worry about controlling just one student who may be disrupting the entire class?

"We've got to give the schools more support, and we have to enact laws, if that's what it takes to allow the teachers to manage their classroom while teaching them," said Bureau.

Now, to set the record straight, no one we talked to said that physical abuse is the answer. In fact, the number one thing they said that they thought was the answer? Start at home, even the teachers should.

"You have to attempt to communicate with the parents. If it means going to the home, then that's what you do," said Bureau.

"I think that it's very important. Any time I met the parents and knew the home situation, I could teach that child better and I could get better discipline from that child," said Clo Wiltse, who is a retired teacher.

They say history has a way of repeating itself...will it when it comes to something like school discipline? Probably not, but maybe the respect that used to be there, may come back.

"When you go to work, you have to do what your boss tells you, and if you don't want to, you have to get another job," said Thornbug. "So, by us allowing children to not recognize that they have boundaries, and limits, we're doing them an injustice."

We talked to several current teachers off-camera who all expressed to us they feel it begins with the parenting. Those teachers chose not to go on camera.

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