The Paddlemaker: A Reporter’s Viewpoint

Unusual would be the best way to describe it. Horrific would be the worst. Joey Salvati’s paddle-making enterprise falls somewhere in the middle.

As you may have seen on Channel 4 Action News – or read in the Tribune-Review – there is a New Kensington carpenter who makes paddles designed for spanking children. He sends them to parents – for free – along with a list of instructions for how to use it. The instructions include everything from the number of swats to apply to the calibration of your paddle ( i.e. smack yourself in the backside to determine how hard you want to hit your child).

Here’s Salvati’s argument – or should I say the argument Salvati says he received from the Lord during four conversations with the almighty in his shower. Spanking is going to happen and oftentimes it’s a function of anger. All the paddle and the accompanying instructions do is turn what could become a beating into a thoughtful, less-violent exercise that will educate both parent and child and lead to mutual respect on both sides.

OK, before I lower the hammer, let me say this: I do believe Salvati does want what is best for the parent and child, and his desire to take the violence out of spanking makes sense. He even claims that upon receiving the paddle, some parents have been scared by the very sight of it and chosen not to use it — rather, seeing it as a symbol of what could happen when emotion takes over. Plus, he says the paddle should never be used on a child age six or younger.

That being said, there is no reason to ever hit a child. Let me repeat that. THERE IS NO REASON TO EVER HIT A CHILD … even that bratty little cousin we all have, who somehow spills fruit punch on your video game console and ruins your $200 investment (not that I dwell on that). The mere act of offering a paddle for use in punishing a child – in my opinion – borders on child abuse. I don’t know about his god, but I know the one I worship would never ask me to do something so heinous.

Still, this man is doing nothing wrong, and has received orders for his paddles from most of the continental United States. On each paddle, he has stamped on the bottom the following: Joey is not responsible for the misuse of this paddle. That is his version of a disclaimer and probably is the one thing on which I completely agree with him. It is not Salvati who uses the paddle. It is the person who actually takes the time to order it through his Web site. While we want to blame Salvati for this, in truth it is the people that order and use the paddle who are the real villains in all of this.

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