Physical Abuse in Fundamentalist Schools

Today I am guest blogger at Bruce Gerencser’s The Way Forward blog. I’m writing about a subject that’s more important than Creationism or even a government agency validating a fundamentalist curriculum. It’s the fundamentalist doctrine of total depravity, and how it is used to justify horrific physical abuse. This will be the first of many posts on this subject.

Here’s an excerpt of the kind of joy you will learn about:

This view of the child as needing to be broken, like a horse, led to hideous abuses at my school. It was not only spanking. In drama classes, if a movement was painful, the teacher made students repeat it endlessly. A classmate recently emailed me to describe a time her sibling was made to snap his fingers until they were covered in blisters. In a choral verse class, children had to hold contorted positions on stage for 10 minutes or more at a time, and the teachers screamed at them if they were seen to move at all.

The same student also described the experience of being paddled at an ACE school:

“I was at [the ACE school] aged 3 – 7, and i cant remember what happened exactly when, but i got paddled a lot and remember having big red marks on my thighs from it and it hurt and was really terrifying! And straight after being paddled [the teacher] asked ‘do u believe that i love u?’ and i said ‘no’, cz obviously i knew that she hated me, and she said ‘YES I DO LOVE YOU!’ and it was just weird and confusing for a small child! and the things i remember getting paddled for were dragging my gym bag along the floor cz it was too heavy, and for drawing a cat on my pace, and for saying i havent had a biscuit when actually i had had a biscuit, which was a malicious lie!

“And [the teacher] would make you say a prayer after being paddled to apologize and I said ‘I wont do it again’ in my prayer and she interupted and said ‘YES YOU WILL DO IT AGAIN’! again, weird and confusing for a child!!”

Read the rest here.

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About jonnyscaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on July 10, 2012, in Accelerated Christian Education, Christianity, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Oh dear. (You have a slight mistake in your link by the way – an extra ‘http’ or a missing colon or something similar.)

  2. Christine Janis,

    Even horses aren’t trained like that these days

    • I didn’t even think of that. There’s a picture in the ACE manual which illustrates a donkey pulling a cart. There’s a man riding the cart holding a whip, and a carrot dangling in front of the child. I’ll upload it sometime. ACE considers this a good metaphor for education.

  3. Timothy Allman

    If memory serves. Corporal punishment was one of the selling points to get old school parents to send their children to these schools. In the 70s in the US paddling in public schools was getting rare, and some religious parents saw that as a bad thing.

    • That sounds about right, Timothy. People assume this kind of thing can’t be happening anymore, but along with teaching Creationism, spanking is almost the schools’ raison d’etre.

  4. Heartbreaking reading. It strikes me that what is a terrible experience for the child is also a destructive experience for the teacher. How can a living faith in Jesus withstand such actions? It’s not even just the physical act of violence, but the violence against the child’s psyche that can only drive a rift between a person and the true expression of a faith which is intended to be rooted in love.

    Of course you could assume that the teacher has already made a decision to collude with this un-thought-out theology, but if they have been raised on a diet of such teaching they certainly won’t have been encouraged to question it. Either way, the psychological damage to the child being taught such a warped form of ‘love’ is deeper and more enduring than the physical bruises. I truly hope your classmate has found a way to get past such an awful experience, Jonny.

  5. jeremy wallace

    Spare the rod and spoil the child, I’ve heard it all my life and been on the recieving end of this ‘love’, but it is utter bullshit! In fact the reverse may well be the truth. See here:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/06/29/spanking-mental-health-drug-abuse.html

    I like what you are writing, I like your blog. You are brave Johnny keep it up. I am a 40 something ‘recovered evangelical’ as I like to call myself, who grew up in an evangelical family though never thank God went to an ACE. My twenties were hell getting free of this stuff, and like many I had these moments of ‘I’m going to burn for this’, but they have got fewer and fewer as my journey has progressed. My older brother is a pastor for some kind of American free church in Madrid. He preaches a six day creation, and believes Noah was real and people walked with dinosaurs and all that crap. he also smacks his children, quoting proverbs as justification. I post all this stuff on his facebook page to keep on his toes.

    I’m intrested too in this NArIc stuff. I thought it was illegal to teach creationism in British schools.

    http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/education/2012/jan/15/free-schools-creationism-intelligent-design

    Is there some kind of loophole?

    • Hi Jeremy. I really appreciate your comment. Thank you.

      Well, I don’t know if you’d call it a loophole, but the ACE schools receive no government funding, so they can do what they want. In my view, Ofsted (which does inspect the schools) lets them get away with murder.

      • I attended Memphis Public Schools in the 80’s when the paddle being used was an everyday thing,and I totally disagree that schools don’t have the authority to paddle anymore..Why were at it,lets take away all our police’s guns and ticket-books,and see how long that it will take the people to start speeding,and acting out of control and breaking the laws/rules if they realize that the police do not have any Authority to stop them and make them behave..And I must admit I’d be the 1st person running a 100 m.p.h…every time I left the house,and you’d better get out of my way or I’d run right over your ass!!!..Just like these kids are doing to our school teachers now that the people have taken away all of our principals authority to paddle and correct the out of control children..YEAH..but it’s mostly the black kids who was getting paddled more often..Right?..Yeah,that may be very true!..However,if the public schools have 900 black kids,and 300 white kids,that’s the reason more black kids get paddled,because there is more of them in public schools,so DUH!..Naturally they are going to be more of them to get in trouble,and get paddled more than the few whites,but nobody ever mentions that point for whatever the reason,,I say let the principals correct them,and teach them while there young that they must learn to obey the rules/laws..Five licks with the paddle now,is a whole lot easier,than Five years in jail later on,but everybody now days don’t listen to GOD’S ADVISE,(Spare the rod…SPOIL the child!)..until that is,there’s another school shooting by an out of control kid!..But then them are the very one’s who want everybody to pray for them damned fools,who never would accept any of Gods advise,and they just don’t understand how God allowed this to happen at their school,who wouldn’t allow prayer in school,or the principal the authority to correct their children,while they had the free chance..DON’T PUT YOUR HANDS ON MY CHILD!..they scream loud enough for the kid to hear,then the kid thinks..Tell they ass HOW IT IS MOM!..And you just lied and told your kids that they can do anything wrong that they want to,and nobody is going to be able to do one damn thing about it to correct them..YOU GO GIRL!..But later on in life,it will be..YOU GO GIRL!.On down and see them in the jail-house,because you taught them that nothing was going to happen if they did not obey the rules/laws,and it be your fault because you would not allow the principal to lay one damn hand on your child,so you end up teaching your kids all wrong,but oh no you’ll scream..IT’S the School’s Fault!..And the Principal,and them damn Teachers,for not doing they damn job!..when it was your dumb-ass-self who caused all the problems,by screaming and hollering and calling the principal out his name,and saying,I don’t care what they be doing in school! Your ASS… just need to make sure that you don’t put your hands..(paddle)..on my DAMNED KIDS AGAIN!..DO YOU HEAR ME?..I certainly pray a lot of you good people hear my message,before it’s too late,and your kid ends up in JAIL!..LET the Principals do their jobs with their paddles,and in the long run,you’ll be glad that you did,and so will your children when they grow up..It’s not abuse,but the board for correcting..Plain and Simple,and did I mention..It’s FREE HELP for you raising a good child..Bob from Memphis,Tn.38122

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