Charles Chickens Out
A Kat Production
You are the assistant principal in charge of freshmen at a Texas high school, which has recently reinstated corporal punishment, but on a voluntary basis. For certain offenses, students can opt to take three swats in lieu of an hour-long after school detention. Only students whose parents have signed the corporal punishment consent form are eligible. In addition, students who opt to take the swats must fill out and sign a request form, which they turn in to your receptionist. Because demands on your time make scheduling swats difficult, you call the students out of class when it is convenient for you to deal with them.
You were a little surprised this morning to find a request form from 14-year-old freshman, Charles. Charles is a quiet, studious boy who received a detention after a teacher caught him surreptitiously reading a sci-fi novel during a lesson. You make a point of getting to know all your freshman by visiting around the classrooms, joking with them in the hallways between classes and in the cafeteria at lunchtime and so on. You had Charles pegged as a kid who wouldn’t much mind detention, which is nothing more than a silent study hall. You find it hard to imagine the slight, bespectacled boy, who seems rather sensitive, choosing swats.
During second period you begin calling the kids who opted for swats down to your office. Charles is the last kid on the list. When he reports to you, he looks scared to death, but he confirms that he wants to go through with the paddling. Though nervous, he goes through the preliminaries of clearing his back pockets and bending over your desk without a fuss. But after you give him the first swat, he stands up, clasps his hands to his backside, and with tears in his eyes, says, “I can’t do it. I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would hurt so much.”
Of course, if he insists on aborting the paddling, you must honor his wishes. However, you worry about the effect on him socially when his classmates learn he “chickened out” – as they likely will deduce, from his being called out of class and then serving a detention anyway. Will you try to convince him to take the remaining two swats or stop now? If you do try to convince him, what will you say?