Childrearing

Parents Divided Over Iowa Principal’s ‘Birthday Whammies’

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It wasn’t until I read a story about an Iowa principal getting in trouble for “spanking” birthday boys and girls with a ridiculously padded hockey stick that I retrieved some repressed memory from my childhood: I’m pretty sure at least two of my principals also did this. Also my grandpa used to “spank” me on my birthday. One spank for each year. It never hurt, sometimes they weren’t even touching me — just pretending to. But how could I forget such a silly thing?

Also, the whole memory makes me feel super old because when I read about Principal Terry Eisenbarth‘s birthday “whammies” at Washington Elementary School, I was shocked that such a practice still existed. What with the fear of pedophiles and even non-pedophile related litigation, it just seems like an unwise practice. But there he was, giving kids “whammies,” some of which didn’t sit so well with parents. The birthday tradition also includes an announcement of the kid’s birthday on the school intercom, followed by an invite to the principal’s office.

One dad said “That is not a celebration. It’s being subservient to a dominating figure.” His husband was also upset. They didn’t receive a response from the principal for several days and so they complained to police.

I don’t know — the implement (pictured here via the Des Moines Register) clearly indicates clowning around as opposed to “call the cops.”

Corporal punishment is banned in Iowa, but corporal punishment is defined as intentional physical punishment, so this wouldn’t apply here. Residents are divided. Some say the incident has been ridiculously overblown while others say that the principal violated the lesson that no one has the right to touch your body.

What do you think? Are Iowa parents ruining the fun of birthdays or should this principal be locked up?