It was the fourth day of school. Justin Causby got in trouble with his gym coach.
By Jason Bellini, CNN Correspondent, CNN.COM, August 16, 2004

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the fourth day of school. Justin Causby got in trouble with his gym coach.

JUSTIN CAUSBY: Why'd you stop running, boy? And I said, Well, I have asthma and I'm tired.

BELLINI: Justin says the coach ordered him to pick up sticks from the field. A fellow student told the coach he heard Justin say something about him.

JUSTIN CAUSBY: I said, You suck. And he said, Boy, you got something to say, you say it to my face.

BELLINI: With another teacher as a witness, the coach paddled Justin three times.

LYNN CAUSBY, JUSTIN'S MOTHER: That wasn't corporal punishment. That was a beating. When you come home from school bleeding, blood on your underwear, that's not just a spanking for being a bad boy.

BELLINI: Justin's mom, Lynn Causby, filed a felony assault complaint against the coach. The Groveton Independent School District determined the coach did nothing wrong. School district officials declined our request for an interview.

(on camera): The school district's view is supported by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. It investigated the incident and found that the paddling did not meet its definition of abuse or neglect.

(voice-over): A grand jury declined to indict the coach on the felony abuse charge. The grand jury saw a note from Justin's doctor, saying Justin suffered traumatic injury.

JOE NED DEAN, TRINITY COUNTY D.A.: The doctor didn't prescribe any treatment. He said there was trauma. There's going to be trauma anytime a young, kind of heavyset kid gets a paddling.

BELLINI: Twenty-eight states have abolished corporal punishment, deeming it both cruel and ineffective. It's still allowed in 22 states, mostly in the Bible Belt. Proponents of corporal punishment say children aren't getting the discipline they need at home, and paddling beats suspension.

A. DIAL, RETIRED TEACHER: Forty-five years in the teaching business, if a kid needed his butt whipped, he got it, and usually it helped.

BELLINI: Lynn Causby home-schooled Justin the rest of the year. At Groveton schools, teachers still determine when to use corporal punishment. Jason Bellini, CNN, Groveton, Texas.


COLLINS: The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services admits it did not interview Justin in determining he was not the victim of abuse. The only -- they only spoke with his school superintendent, who said the coach did nothing wrong. We were unable to reach the coach for comment.

Joining me now to talk more about corporal punishment, a supporter, Hubon Sandridge. He's a member of Memphis, Tennessee's board of education, which is currently debating this issue. On the other side, Robert Fathman. He started the National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools after his then-6-year-old daughter was paddled with a thick board even after he told the school not to touch her.

Gentlemen, welcome to both of you tonight.



COLLINS: Thanks for being here.

I want to begin with you, Mr. Sandridge, if I could, please. Tell me why corporal punishment is a good idea.

SANDRIDGE: Corporal punishment is a good idea, number one, the Bible teaches in Proverbs 22 and 6, "Train up a child in the way that he should go, and he will not depart." The bottom line for this, Heidi, is, in our nation, the lack of parental involvement, 64 percent is the problem we face.

It's not about punishment. It's about discipline. It's about training. And when parents are not training their children, and the numbers are staggering at 64 percent, especially in impoverished areas and urban areas, we must deal with students accordingly if they violate policy, and I...

COLLINS: Mr. Fathman, let me ask you, sir, if parents aren't doing their job, whose job is it to do?

FATHMAN: Well, parents are doing their job. I, you know, parents love their children, they're bringing them up the best that they can. And schools fill in during the day. But it isn't parents' job to pick up boards and hit children with it. It's not school's job to do it. It's the school's job to educate the children, not to beat them.

SANDRIDGE: Let me make it perfectly clear, if I may, Heidi, no child is being abused. When you're dealing with corporal punishment, there is a policy in place. The principal, along with an administrative assistant, is present. Parents have to give... FATHMAN: Yes, but that doesn't mean that they're not being abused, reverend...

SANDRIDGE: Let me make -- let me...

FATHMAN: ... with all due respect to you.


FATHMAN: There are 8,000 children a year going to doctors' offices and...

SANDRIDGE: Let me...

FATHMAN: ... hospital emergency rooms...

SANDRIDGE: Let me...

FATHMAN: ... with teacher-inflicted...

SANDRIDGE: All right...

FATHMAN: ... injuries like that little boy in Texas.

SANDRIDGE: That little boy...

COLLINS: Mr. Sandridge, go ahead and complete your thought.

FATHMAN: That little boy in Texas is one case. Sir, when 64 percent of our parents are not training their children, it's a God- given responsibility. We cannot administer corporal punishment without a parental consent. So everyone understands we're not talking about abuse. We're talking about training children who do not receive training at home. And if God has ordained that, I agree with that.

FATHMAN: You know...

COLLINS: Mr. Fathman, let me ask you, what does happen if this type of punishment backfires, if you will?

FATHMAN: You mean when children are injured, like little Justin?


FATHMAN: When children are injured like that, parents have absolutely no recourse. Court after court, just like in Texas, has upheld the teacher's rights to injure children, and parents have no right to protect them from that. Only in one of the 22 paddling states do parents have right under law to prevent paddling being done to their children. In the other 20...

COLLINS: Can they not pull the child out of that school?

FATHMAN: And then do what with them, pay for private school tuition?


FATHMAN: Not everyone can do that. If you pull a child out of school -- Mrs. Causby is now driving her child 25 miles one way to get him into a neighboring district.


FATHMAN: Lots of parents work, and can't do that.

SANDRIDGE: That was Ms. Causby's choice. Again I say...

FATHMAN: Well, it was her choice to protect her child.

COLLINS: Pardon me, Mr. Sandridge, the last word here now.

SANDRIDGE: The last word is, train up a child in the way that he or she should go, and he or she will not depart. That's the Bible. I stand there, and I believe the people of this nation stand there as well.

FATHMAN: Lots of people...

COLLINS: Thank...

FATHMAN: ... interpret that Bible entirely differently. Do you want to hit children with boards like this? That's not the Jesus of my faith when you do something like that.

SANDRIDGE: Well, let me, let me say this to you...

COLLINS: Gentlemen, we're going to have to leave it there. I apologize...

SANDRIDGE: Spare the rod, spoil the child.

COLLINS: ... we're running out of time.

Thank you so much, Cuban Sandridge...

SANDRIDGE: Thank you, Heidi.

COLLINS: ... and Robert Fathman, appreciate your time tonight...

FATHMAN: Thank you very much, Heidi, I appreciate being with you.

COLLINS: ... both of you.

SANDRIDGE: Thank you.

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