It always amazes me when I read or hear about certain “Christians” and their brand of Christianity. Some of them are capable of astonishing cruelty, particularly toward children. I have mentioned before that I was raised Christian myself, and the version of Jesus Christ I was taught about was a kind, compassionate, forgiving, wise, and loving leader. And yet, in today’s world, so many “Christians”, particularly among men, turn out to be mean-spirited, unforgiving, hateful, and cruel.
This morning, I read the story of 60 year old John Raymond, who worked at the headmaster of Lakeside Christian Academy in Slidell, Louisiana. On March 18, 2022, Mr. Raymond reportedly decided to use packing tape to tape the mouths of three 13 year old male students who were sent to him for discipline due to their alleged “excessive talking” in class.
According to a police report, Mr. Raymond wrapped the packing tape around the children’s heads, then sent them back to class for about 45 minutes. Another administrator, apparently uncomfortable with Raymond’s unorthodox punishment method, decided to remove the tape. Because the tape was wrapped around the children’s heads, scissors were required to remove it properly. The students stated that they had trouble breathing and the removal process was painful. I’m sure that getting the tape out of their hair hurt, because as we all know, adhesive sticks to things. If this happened the way it’s been reported, the kids probably lost some hair during the process.
Mr. Raymond smiled for his mug shot, which can be seen on the Facebook post I linked. He’s also posted a lengthy “personal statement” with “facts” on the school’s Web site. According to his statement, the incident actually happened on March 17th, and involved five students. Raymond writes that the teacher was in tears, and threatened to terminate her employment, due to the students’ “disruptive” behavior. The students’ behavior had been problematic on many occasions in the past, and Mr. Raymond writes that he has had to “address” the class many times. Raymond writes that he gave the students the option of either calling their parents and suspending them from school, or wearing the tape on their mouths to “learn” how to be quiet in class.
Raymond explains that he didn’t wrap the tape around the children’s heads, nor was their breathing affected in any way. He claims that he asked them if they could breathe properly, and if they were in any pain. According to Raymond, the students did not indicate that they were in any distress; in fact, he claims they could have simply pulled off the strip of tape by themselves. Also, according to the headmaster, the tape was on their mouths for no longer than ten minutes, rather than the 45 minutes claimed in the students’ version of the story. Two weeks later, Mr. Raymond was arrested, when three of the students’ parents called to report the punishment to the police. The other two students have been attending school as usual.
Now… I don’t know exactly where the truth lies. It probably rests somewhere in the middle of this wild tale. It does seem crazy to me, however, that Mr. Raymond felt that taping the children’s mouths was a good idea in this day and age. Public humiliation of children is never a good look, nor would I say that it’s a particularly “Christlike” thing to do. It seems to me that the best course of action would have been to simply call the children’s parents, because obviously, they were going to get involved, anyway. Did Mr. Raymond really think that all of the parents of these kids were going to think his brand of punishment was appropriate? Now he’s being held criminally liable. I would not be surprised if there’s a lawsuit, too.
Honestly, shouldn’t the parents be notified if their children are causing so much disruption that a teacher is threatening to quit her job? This is a private school, yes? So why tolerate repeated disruptions in the first place? Disruptive kids don’t have to go to a private school. It’s supposed to be a privilege. I don’t condone allowing students to bully their teachers, but I do think that if students are so lacking in discipline that they make their teachers cry, their parents should be involved. And if the parents can’t effectively address the problem, then maybe they should find an alternative solution to educating their children. It isn’t fair to the other students to allow disruptive students to interrupt class. But in no case do I think it should be up to a principal, headmaster, or teacher to use physical punishments on students. It’s not their place.
I know a lot of people might not think this kind of punishment is a big deal. Personally, I am against teachers publicly humiliating kids or using “physical” means to discipline them. Back in 1980s era Virginia, I had a teacher who publicly paddled children in front of their peers. It happened to me once, and although I don’t remember the “paddling” to be painful, I do remember how very upsetting and traumatizing it was. In fact, when I think about that incident 40 years later, it still really pisses me off. I wish my parents had cared more that a man took it upon himself to paddle their nine year old daughter in front of other nine year olds. It certainly didn’t teach me “discipline”.
I don’t know what the laws are in Louisiana that pertain to how kids can be disciplined in school. It wouldn’t surprise me if corporal punishment is still okay down there (ETA: actually, this issue just came up in Louisiana and yes, corporal punishment is still allowed). However, from what I’ve read, most places where corporal punishment is allowed require parental consent. Moreover, psychological studies show that corporal punishment isn’t helpful or effective in getting children to change their behaviors. It does, however, teach them that might beats right, and authority figures are to be feared, rather than respected. There is a big difference between fear and respect.
Another fun fact about Mr. Raymond is that he was once a contestant on the reality show, Survivor. There are many telling Facebook comments by people who live in the community Lakeside Christian Academy serves. He appears to be a rather controversial figure who has a lot of local power. Many people seem to think he’s a real jerk. In any case, it always amazes me when I hear a so-called Christian say they “love” someone, but then they use pain, humiliation, and fear to teach them right from wrong. That’s not the way Jesus Christ would have handled a situation like this. Or, at least, the version of Christ that I learned about in my mainstream Presbyterian church when I was growing up, would not have handled a disciplinary situation in this way.
Isn’t it insane that an assistant principal in Mississippi gets fired for reading an awesome children’s book about butts to kids in school, but this “headmaster” in Louisiana is allowed to tape children’s mouths? I don’t envy the parents of today. Our schools are truly a mess.