Greenbrier Public School in rural Arkansas didn't take too kindly to the national school walkout that took place on Tuesday to protest gun violence in response to last month's deadly Parkland shooting. In fact, when three students decided to go against the grain of their very conservative school and community and walk out, they were met with a tough choice: suspension or corporal punishment.
They chose corporal punishment, and each received two swats by paddle.
One of the boys' mothers posted this tweet about it:
My kid and two other students walked out of their rural, very conservative, public school for 17 minutes today. They were given two punishment options. They chose corporal punishment. This generation is not playing around. #walkout
— Jerusalem Greer (@JerusalemGreer) March 14, 2018
The mother's son, Wylie Greer (one of the students who received the swats) gave this statement to the Daily Beast:
Walking out of class at ten on Monday morning was not an easy thing. Many students were vocally insulting and degrading to the idea of the walk-out and anyone who would participate. At 10:00, I walked out of my classroom to a few gaped mouths and more than a few scowls. I exited the building, sat on the bench, and was alone for a few seconds. I was more than a little concerned that I would be the only one to walk out. I was joined by two others eventually, two of the smartest students at the school. We sat outside the front of the building and were approached first by the principal, who asked us “if he could help us” and “if we understood that there would be consequences.” After we answered affirmatively, he went back inside. A few minutes passed and the dean-of-students approached us. He asked “what we were doing,” we told him that we were protesting gun violence. He told us to go inside. We refused.
After the 17 minutes had passed, we re-entered the building and went to our classes. Over the next two hours, all three of us were called individually to talk with the dean-of-students. He offered us two choices of punishment, both of which had to be approved by our parents. We would either suffer two ‘swats’ from a paddle or two days of in-school suspension. All three of us chose the paddling, with the support of our parents.
I received my punishment during 6th period. 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.
Wylie A. Greer
Class of 2018
Greenbrier High School, Arkansas
While corporal punishment is banned in 28 states, it is still expressly permitted in 15 states (and somewhere in the middle for 7 states), according to NPR in 2016, and Arkansas is obviously one who permits it wholeheartedly. When the Daily Beast tried to reach out to Greenbrier Public School, the assistant principal hung up on them.