While in Junior High School, I was paddled in front of hundreds of students.

In the 7th grade, I got into a fight with another student in shop class. We were both sent to the principal’s office. We were made to hold our palms up and flat, the vice principal slapped our palms very hard with a thick ruler. It actually really hurt. Before we left the office, he rolled open a desk drawer, pulling out a monstrous thick light colored wood paddle, while saying, “Next time, you graduate.”

He was not kidding.

A few weeks later, the same shop teacher sent me to the principal’s office. The central office at this school was just that; central in the school. Glass windows in all directions. I was told to wait in the main office area. A lot of time passed, it seemed at 10.29 am, and yes, I watched every click of that clock. The vice principal emerged from his office, sleeves rolled up, and that monstrous wooden paddle in his hand.

With his aggressively deep and utterly commanding voice, “And now, you graduate. Stand up, pull your pants down, and bend over the counter.”

Just then, the 10.30 bell rang, and students began to stream through the hallways. I can only imagine how many slowed or stopped as they passed the school’s highest traveled halls. It felt as if time froze. I know in my peripheral vision there was movement. Reflecting on that moment, it seems that I’d have had some degree of objection to his command while suddenly in the plain sight of so many others. The vice principal, having really laid into my hands in an already unforgettable way, and being roughly six feet five inches tall, and seemingly always appearing angry somehow, controlled me completely in the moment.

I unbuttoned my jeans and lowered them and my underwear at once. As the central office flowed with students in all directions, I was pulling my pants down for any and all to see. In reflection, I’m convinced the wait in the office was intentional. With my pants around my knees, my bare ass forcefully pressed across the counter, being swatted harder than they imagined would be the consequence of being sent to the office a second time. I could hear the noise of the between-class bustle, interrupted only by the swish and crack of the paddle on my rear end. I received 15 swats with the paddle on my bare ass, seemingly in front of the entire school. The vice principal had timed my paddling to when the masses would be walking by. I have hated him for that forever. And it may have been the best thing that ever happened to me and for me.

With each thunderous swat, my eyes watered more and more. Each swat doubled the lesson. Each swat doubled the pain. Between each swat I felt as if every other student was watching my bare ass redden. I could not possibly be more humbled and embarrassed.

I was never sent to the principal’s office ever again. I was taught a very potent lesson.

It is my understanding that corporal punishment has since been banned in many public schools. I can’t help but think that this was a mistake. Because of this paddling, I never acted out in school again. I was taught a lesson that it’s clear I’ve never forgotten. I feel that a similar experience would put many back onto a better path.