High Home Values Linked to Corporal Punishment?

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It may seem far-fetched, but could paddling students correlate to a healthier real estate market? Or is Texas simply gaining a new reputation as the Lone Swat State?

Parents and school board members in Temple, Texas recently resurrected corporal punishment -- better known as spanking -- in the Temple public schools. Temple is a fast-growing community of 60,000 (just north of Austin and off I-35) that is enjoying a healthy real estate market and was virtually untouched by the recession.

As a growing bioscience incubator in transition from ranching and farming, the city is also known as home to the Scott & White Hospital, Wilsonart Laminate, and the McLane Co. founded by billionaire Robert Drayton McLane. (He also owns the Houston Astros and recently sold the huge grocery distributor to Wal-Mart.)

The town actually asked the school district to revive corporal punishment to quell unruly students --and higher real estate values just seemed to come as part of the deal.

All kidding aside, the latest pediatric research does not in any way support Temple's public-school policy. A recent study done by researchers at Tulane University determined that children who are spanked from a young age are more like to become "aggressive, destructive and mean" as they get older. Clearly some corners of the country haven't gotten the message.
According to an article in TheWashington Post, nearly a quarter of the 225,000 students nationwide who received spankings in U.S. schools were from Texas; the balance was almost entirely from Southern states.

Of course, we do not yet know if the spanking has curbed another little problem that haunted Temple: teen pregnancy. Temple once boasted one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the state. (Every 10 minutes a teen in Texas gets pregnant.)

Recent reports indicate that Temple's teen pregnancy rate is on the decline, though.

Most Temple residents were concerned that TheWashington Post article was taken out of context and only focused on the spanking, says Temple Realtor Danny Dunn. Temple, he says, is really very progressive.

Dunn, who will soon be a member of the Temple City Council, says Temple is the second fastest-growing area in the country besides New Orleans, and that the Temple real estate market is healthy. "We have one of the strongest economies in the state, with manufacturing and medicine, and remained fairly insulated against the recession," he said.

Dunn also soft-pedals the paddling. The real intent for reviving corporal punishment, he said, was actually to make kids run or do push-ups instead of sitting sluggishly in time-out; the district was looking for creative ways to solve behavior problems and help keep kids active. Besides, a sound spanking requires red tape: Families have to sign a consent form before their kid can be disciplined. Many teachers might find it easier to resort back to time-outs.

It's also worth noting that most of Texas sat out the recession, thanks largely to a sturdy energy industry. Furthermore, the practice of paddling in public schools is banned in Texas' big cities and used only sporadically elsewhere. But clearly some residents persist in believing such antiquated practices play some meaningful role in maintaining a stable society.

After they read the Post article, Dunn said he and the president of the Temple School Board were chuckling over the portrait it painted of country folk slinging back in well-worn rockers on Temple porches. Median home prices in Temple are $140,000, he says, the same as -- or even more than -- before the recession.

The only rockers, he says, are in commercial buildings that are holding folks waiting to close on their three-bedroom, two-bath homes with granite in the kitchens. Presumably, aggressive, destructive children are not included.

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