Dallas school board decision detrimental to children
Letter from Laurie A. Couture, M.Ed. to Dallas Observer, August 20, 2003

To the Dallas Observer:

As a mental health counselor, I feel it is urgent to speak out on behalf of children, as a decision was made by the Dallas school board that will be detrimental to children's physical and psychological well being.

In all 50 states it is illegal to hit spouses, elderly, employees, the mentally ill, military trainees, prisoners and in some cases, even pets. This is called assault and battery. Interestingly, it is illegal for school children to strike one another, and especially for them to strike a member of the school staff. What kind of hypocritical message is being given to children when it is illegal for any adult to hit an adult and for any child to hit any child or adult, but it is acceptable, even recommended by school authorities for these powerful adults to hit children?

Children are our most vulnerable and impressionable people in our society. Sadly, they are also the most exploited. This is mainly because they are not given the political power or voice to step up and say that they aren't going to take being assaulted anymore- at home or at school. They do have advocates, however, who have over 30 years worth of research on the detrimental physical, psycological, sexual and educational affects of corporal punishment to back up the rights of children.

To a New Englander such as myself, Texas' child rearing practices stand alone as appearing barbarian and ignorant. It was my hope that rather than cling to outmoded, antique tradition, that Dallas would have reflected the social climate of the 21st century and follow the lead of over half our country's states who have put the paddle where it belongs- in the garbage can.

Laurie A. Couture, M.Ed.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Counselor
Exeter, NH

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