Gov. Rick Perry
PO Box 12428
Austin, TX 78711-2428
Dear Governor Perry,
Please veto the bill to allow camp counselors to give bare butt spankings to teen girls.
I'm sorry for the shocking introduction, but that is exactly what the "parental right to spank" bill will actually codify in Texas, since a key term in the bill was never defined. It could actually be broadly interpreted as taking away the parent's right to prevent a whole host of people, many with little actual contact or care for their child, the same exact right to spank that child that a parent would have.
In working on a website, www.nopaddle.com, about school paddling as physical abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment, I've heard several stories from Texas women who were given bare butt spankings at church camps and other similar venues, including into teen years. None wanted to talk about it and none wanted it to go into print, even anonymously. This bill, more than anything, makes that "right" official, whereas before it would have been a pretty murky thing that might have been subject to lawsuits.
At the very least the governor could veto this bill and allow the Texas Legislature to more closely define this bill as applying to a legal guardian, and not to those with passing temporary custody.
Jeffrey L. Charles
(Followed by a US Mail Letter sent on 5-30-05:)
Dear Governor Perry,
I mentioned that I received a number of letters from young women in Texas describing very abusive spankings in church camps and such. I thought it might help if you read an actual case, and considered the language of HB383 in that light.
What follows is a general letter that I'll be sending to a number of people that closes with the letter about a woman's church camp abuses that HB383 may directly, although not intentionally, sanction.
Church Camp Abusive Spankings and "Guardian" Spanking Provision in HB383
I received the following letter from "Ron" on March 31, 2005. Although I did immediately ask Ron to see if the young woman would write an anonymous letter on her experiences, and she did agree to write it, as of May 27, nearly two months later, she still has been unable to do so. This great difficulty is very common for victims of extreme child abuse, and is especially difficult when the abuse is of a form that the rest of society is so much in denial over, such as hidden sadism and sexual child abuse disguised in plain sight as "discipline."
Texas is already a very friendly place for child abusers like Mr. White, both in school and without, and has again proven itself even more so with a bill that recently passed the Texas Legislature and is on its way to the Governor. I believe Mr. White, not as principal but now just as a church camp worker, would qualify as a "guardian" who was responsible for this girl's "reasonable" discipline.
On the surface the bill attempts to give parents the right to spank, which they already have, but includes also a very ambiguous definition of "guardian" that would have the same right to spank as the parent, and which might be interpreted as applying to anyone who has a temporary, passing control of a child, including church camp counselors, scout leaders, friend's parents when kids stay overnight, babysitters, or even friend's parents when kids are merely visiting for an hour or two. These temporary, passing guardians, who may not even know the child or family, or maybe in just a passing way, will have the same legal authority to spank a child in any abusive way they wish that doesn't seem unreasonable to merely 8% of Texas jurors without the parent's knowledge or consent. In this girl's case the parents may well have approved, if they knew about the abuse, but abusers would have a free legal basis to mete out this kind of abuse even in direct contradiction to the parent's directions. In other words child molesters who can volunteer for any kind of church camp can spank a kid or teen in a way that 92% of Texans see as physical or sexual abuse, i.e. 11 out of 12 jurors, and if only one juror sides with them, assuming it went to trial at all, they will have the identical legal status to give spankings, bare butt or otherwise, with whatever implements they choose, as if they were parents, even if they act over the parent's objections.
Here is HB 383 in its current form, just passed by the Texas Senate. Consider it in light of Ron's letter to follow:A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
relating to the right of certain persons to discipline a child.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1: Section 151.001, Family Code, is amended by adding Subsection (e) to read as follows:
(e) Only the following persons may use corporal punishment for the reasonable discipline of a child:
- a parent or grandparent of the child;
- a stepparent of the child who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline of the child; and
- an individual who is a guardian of the child and who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline of the child.
Here is Ron's letter. (You can read Ron and Lisa's interview on www.nopaddle.com, in the "interviews" section, in the "Ron & Lisa from Texas" interview.)Hi Jeff,
I hope you are doing well. I spoke on the phone to Lisa yesterday. We have some news, both good and bad, regarding Mr. White, the paddling Principal at our school. The good news is that he is no longer working in schools. He suffered a stroke in 2003 and is now unable to work. However, the bad news is the discovery by Lisa that she did not suffer the full extent of his abuses. Lisa had been talking to an old friend. They have known each other since they were kids but she lived in the next school district so she did not attend our school. However her family were devout Christians and attended to same church as Mr. White. He was involved with the church's youth groups and was in charge of summer camps. It was at these camps that he gave severe and humiliating beatings to girls. Lisa's friend was beaten by him every summer from age 12 through 18, usually on several occasions. It seems that he was even worse without the 'constraints' of school rules, however pathetic they were. He apparently had a collection of weapons which he called "tools", that he beat them with. Also he often made the girls bare their butts for punishments. She also told Lisa that there were often humiliating rituals attached to the beatings. The fact that it was a church camp meant that he could use pathetic 'moral' reasons for giving punishments rather than just for bad behavior.
It surprised both myself and Lisa to learn that he was a church going man, because nothing he ever said or did suggested that he was. I suspect that he probably was not religious but used it as a front to continue his abuses out of school. I would guess that these summer camps served to fill the space during the summer when there was no school.
Lisa told me that she told her friend to look at your website. I suggested that she asked her to write to you. Lisa thought she probably would as she is very angry about all this and would probably want her story to be heard. Would you want her to do this?
SEE RELATED: Dialogues with Rep. Harold Dutton, April 2003 - May 2005
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