That seed of terror would metastasize into a lifelong resentment of authority. Sure, it was very effective at forcing temporary compliance, but I lost my respect for my principal, and parents, and eventually all authority figures who use violence instead of reason (and it turns out that violence is generally the only source from which authority is derived).

Even though people knew better in the 1980s, it was very much the cultural norm. I was surprised and intrigued to read that The Satanic Temple, an activist church that eschews belief in the supernatural, was offering First Amendment religious protection to children subjected to corporal punishment in public schools.

According to the Satanic Temple’s Protect Children Project website:

Per the report “A Violent Education,” issued in 2008 by the Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union, corporal punishment at school has led to tens of thousands of emergency room visits where some children have even died from their wounds. Studies have also shown a clear correlation between corporal punishment and lower IQ, depression, early heart attacks, and a higher propensity for addiction and obesity. It also adversely impacts family relationships. What’s more, a report issued by the U.S. Alliance to Stop the Hitting of Children shows that spanking perpetuates child abuse and teaches children it is acceptable for people in positions of authority to resort to violence as a means of getting what they want.

Corporal punishment is practiced in 19 states, but where it is not permitted, many schools resort to placing students in solitary confinement sometimes called: “seclusion rooms,” “isolation rooms,” “decompression rooms,” “time-out rooms,” or “scream rooms.” The prevalence of this form of punishment is dramatically rising even as its use is being markedly reduced in prisons because it is considered inhumane. According to Greaves, this form of punishment is also unacceptable treatment for Temple members. “The physical and psychological abuse of children is completely immoral. It is disturbing that no other religious organization has publicly expressed this sentiment and we sincerely hope our colleagues of other faiths will come forth to protect children from these kinds of violence and support our initiative.”