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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Candidates Asked If They Would Ever Consider Corporal Punishment in the Ketchikan School District

By Keenan Sanderson


September 24, 2022

My opinions are mine and mine alone, this statement does not reflect any body that I may be affiliated with. 

Last night [09/20/22], KRBD radio hosted a school board candidate forum. Upon the conclusion of the forum, a number of Ketchikan residents reached out to me about a topic that came up during the forum. I would like to address that topic and address the concerns that people have. 

The question that I will be referring to is the following: “A Missouri School District recently reinstated policy that would allow school district faculty to spank students as a form of punishment, including the use of a paddle. Is this a policy, or any form of this policy, that you would ever consider for the Ketchikan School District? Specifically state yes or no. Why or why not?” In other words, corporal punishment.

Let me be abundantly clear with you all, in no way, shape, or form will I ever support corporal punishment in any part of our school district. This is non-negotiable for me. Here are my reasons why: 

1. There is no reason that a full-grown adult, whether that is in the school district or outside, should ever be “allowed” to strike a child. Not with a hand, not a foot, not a paddle, not a ruler. Nothing. Let’s call this what it is, child abuse. There are other forms of reprehension that an adult can use to correct bad behavior. Counseling, therapy, detention, restrictions on activities, literally talking to the student to correct behavior is an option. We need more trauma-informed decisions in our schools, we don’t need barbaric and abusive policies for our schools.

2. The community of Ketchikan has a high rate of domestic violence and sexual assault and that trend is not getting any better. Here is my experience. For a good portion of my childhood, I grew up in a home that had a lot of physical violence. As a 11-year-old I once wielded a knife because of the fear of my mother’s ex-boyfriend threatened to beat my mother, my siblings, and myself. These experiences had a dramatic impact on my mental health almost to the point of suicide, and corporal punishment would have similar impacts on growing young minds. Physical punishment and violence is something that no one should ever go through. 

3. Ignoring the fact that this policy is more than likely illegal, how could we possibly manage a punishment system like this? How do we determine what behavior “deserves” physical abuse? How hard can school staff strike a student? If a school staff person doesn’t want to strike a student, should they be forced to? How do we know if school staff won’t abuse this power? Not that I would ever entertain policy like this, but my list of questions is endless. 

4. I have heard two arguments in support of this. The first that this would be a judiciary process. My question is, who is the judge, jury, and punisher? Teachers? Teachers and admin? Paras? The custodian? This is a world versus an 8-year-old. The student has no chance in defending themselves in a judiciary process, unless the school district is willing to pay for a lawyer to represent the student. The other argument is that this policy would be “opt-in” only. Setting aside the fact that this would require parents to give permission to the school district to physically abuse their child (making me think that no one would actually do this to their child). How can I expect a teacher (who oversees 10-150 students every day) or a principal (who oversees upwards of 500 students) to know for sure that that students parent actually gave permission for the district for physically abuse students? Make no mistake that this would be an incredible slippery slope. 

My list of concerns goes on. I have had dozens of people reach out to me about this matter. Parents and students of Ketchikan please be assured that I will not allow any form of this policy to ever be put in our schools. To my knowledge, there is no plans from any current board member from putting this on any agenda in the near future. I am student first. Before any education that can happen, students must be in a safe space and in good mental health. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have any further concerns about this matter, you the public have the right to reach out to our school board members. Please be informed. Please voice your concerns. Please make your voice heard. 


Keenan Sanderson
Ketchikan, Alaska




Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.

Opinions expressed are solely those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Sitnews.

Received September 21, 2022 - Published September 24, 2022

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