Was this teacher wrong to wash a student's mouth out with soap? Here's what parents are saying

According to Fox Carolina, a Greensboro, North Carolina, teacher washed a student's mouth out with soap. She's since resigned, and the story has sparked debate over what appropriate classroom punishment is.
Dec 07, 2015

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  • References to the movie "A Christmas Story" aren't uncommon this time of year, but a North Carolina teacher's method of reprimanding one student has people mainly mentioning a scene in the film documenting an old-school form of punishment.

  • That's "washing kids' mouths out" with soap, traditionally done to deter them from deploying "dirty" language, Maureen Hoff wrote for Hello Giggles.

  • Wiley Elementary kindergarten teacher Tiffani Staton resigned from her post Wednesday after reports she washed a student's mouth out with soap prompted an investigation, according to the Associated Press. The student's parent complained to the school, which is located in Greensboro, North Carolina.

  • WFMY News 2 reported Staton faces no charges from the incident but that some parents of the school's students are in "disbelief."

  • "When you take your child to school, you trust they are in the best of care," mom Setaria James told News 2. "You don't want anything done to them that you won't do. I would say some type of punishment would be appropriate, of course. But I don't know what type."

  • Opponents of the practice also point to cases of people receiving scrutiny for resorting to the same punishment with kids recently, according to Hello Giggles.

  • The Telegraph detailed one such case from this spring: A 23-year-old UK man watched a 6-year-old kick an old man's walking stick. The man confronted the boy, the boy yelled expletives at him, and the man allegedly walked to a nearby store to purchase soap, pinning the boy down and putting a bar in his mouth.

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  • The man pleaded guilty to assault, according to The Telegraph.

  • Jason Smith, mitigating, said the man didn't use his best judgement but that the punishment proved acceptable in "the good old days," when youths behaved better.

  • "[The man accused] fully accepts in hindsight that that was not the best way to react," The Telegraph quoted Smith as saying. "All [he] was trying to do was teach the little boy some manners. Unfortunately, manners are in short supply nowadays."

  • Virginia Kruta noted for Independent Journal at least a few parents took to Twitter to support Staton's method.

  • "A teacher has resigned amid an investigation into whether she washed out a student's mouth with soap. (Resign, heck. Give her a raise!)," Twitter user donald phillips posted.

  • Regardless, IJ reported Nora Carr, Wiley Elementary's chief of staff, issued a statement condemning the punishment.

  • "We are deeply concerned that this occurred. There is no reason to discipline a child in this manner at school," the statement read.

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Payton Davis is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

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