Nadine Block's letter of November 3, 2001 to Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions
Honorable Jeff Sessions
341 Federal Building
1800 Fifth Avenue North
Birmingham, AL 35203-2171

Dear Senator Sessions:

Your aide, Ms.Prim, has been in contact with Michaela Curtis whose son was injured in a school paddling in Demopolis, AL. She expressed concern about his injuries but felt that there was little that could be done from the federal level to stop such corporal punishment. Corporal punishment should not be used in schools and the federal government has a role in ending this barbaric practice. The following are problems with corporal punishment in schools:

Children suffer physical injuries and psychological effects such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, humiliation and anxiety and;

Litigation frequently is brought against school boards and educators by parents of school-injured children and;

Violence is taught and passed on to future generations by showing that hitting is an appropriate and sanctioned way of dealing with interpersonal problems.

While some people believe that corporal punishment is needed to control school children, there is no research evidence showing that it is effective and much evidence showing that other methods work better.

The federal government should protect children by denying funds to educational programs that allow corporal punishment. In March, l991, U.S. Representative Major Owens introduced such a bill. Every federal education program imposes conditions on how and in what ways schools can and cannot use federal money and specifies practices and procedures on ways federal money can be used. This bill is consistent with that tradition.

Legislators at state and federal levels are making school reform a priority. As President Bush told educators in announcing his "America 2000" education program, there is a need to make "far-reaching changes in weary practices, outmoded assumptions and long-assumed constraints on education" in order to improve education. The twenty-seven states that have already banned corporal punishment overwhelmingly fall in the top tier on positive education indicators.

The federal government prohibits physical punishment to train animals under the Animal Welfare Act, the Horse Protection Act and other laws. Are school children not deserving of this protection?

Attorney General Ashcroft, in releasing the latest statistics on violence in schools this week, said all children should be able to go to school safe from violence. Hitting children IS violence and we need to stop this ineffective and dangerous practice. I urge you, for the Curtis family and all families in Alabama and other states which allow school corporal punishment, to sponsor a bill denying educational funds to those programs which use corporal punishment on school children.

Thank you for your interest in this issue.

Nadine Block, Director
Center for Effective Discipline
155 W. Main Street, #1603 Columbus, OH 43215
Tel: 614-221-8829 Fax: 614-221-2110

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