I was a founder and president of citizens against physical punishment, an organization whose purpose was to help abolish corporal punishment of children. In recent years I have aided national organizations who have the same purpose.
There is a very disturbing bill, HB 374, that is in the Senate Jurisprudence Committee at the time of this writing.
The bill, authored by Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston, originally applied only to parents, giving them the right to use "reasonable" corporal punishment on their children.
The word "reasonable" has been a problem for some prosecutors, because people have different opinions about what "reasonable" is. To some, it seems to open the door to very severe whippings that may cause bruises, fever, blood in the urine and a trip to the doctor.
To many this is a "reasonable" and expected result of a whipping. Therefore, many prosecutors are reluctant to prosecute unless the child is beaten to the point of death.
This leaves children without recourse and in the schools there is a terrible law that prevents students from even taking abusing teachers to Civil Court. Something has got to be done about this law.
What really amazes many of us is that Dutton would propose such a law as HB 374 when there already are existing laws on the books. These existing laws allow anyone in Texas who deals with a child for some purpose, to legally beat the child without mercy providing the child does not die.
But Dutton says he wants to make sure that people know that they can whip without getting into trouble. In other words, he wants to use his proposed law to advertise spankings, and to encourage people to spank.
Now comes the worst part, HB 374 has been amended to give "others," in addition to parents, the right to use corporal punishment during the time that they have a child in their care.
I'm sure this would include baby sitters, scout leaders, summer camp leaders, schools, and on and on. The amendment does not even require those who wish to whip to get parental permission. WOW! Talk about abuse! It will skyrocket if this crazy bill becomes law.
Especially alarming is the very real possibility that HB 374 might cause a return of corporal punishment to the day care centers in Texas. The Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services has also expressed concern about this.
We do not need any more hitting laws that target children in Texas. We do not even need the ones that we already have. Bad things are happening to our children and we need to wake up and see what is causing it and do something about it.
Child Protective Services confirmed 12,800 cases of physical abuse in Texas last year and there were thousands more cases that were never reported.
Parents are using more than paddles, switches, belts and etc. I have almost lost count of the number of parents, both men and women, who have picked up guns and blown the brains out of their own children, drowned them, or crushed their skulls with rocks. One of the latest to happen was in South Texas where parents decapitated their own children. It's happening not only in divorce cases but in homes where parents are still together. It makes us wonder if the world has gone completely crazy!
We may not know all of the answers but there is one thing we can be sure of: There are many more parents who will be killing children unless something is done quickly.
One of the last thing these people need to hear is news about immunity for parents and teachers who abuse children.
Another child in Texas has died from corporal punishment. It was used by her grandmother while the mother was serving in the Armed Forces in Iraq. It happened on May 13, 2003.
The little girl was four years old and her name was Destiny. The grandmother thought the little girl was slack in her homework so she decided to do what Texas law allowed her to do - give the child an old fashioned whipping.
That is exactly what she did, using a belt and an extension cord. Texas law leaves the choice of weapons to whip with entirely up to the person doing the whipping. Little Destiny died that same day at Metroplex Hospital in Killeen, Texas. Her life on earth is over.
We cannot begin to imagine the great fear and indescribable pain that Little Destiny experienced as the horrors of death engulfed her precious little body. She didn't take up much room in this big state but, nevertheless, that space is now empty.
Destiny will never again be tucked into bed by her mother and hear those wonderful words, "I love you sweet baby."
She will never see our state capitol building where you folks work, or be able to shake your hand. She will never visit the Historic Alamo or play on the beautiful beaches of Padre Island or the Galveston Beaches.
She will never smell the lovely Texas Bluebonnets or listen to the inspiring song written by Texas Governor W. Lee O'Daniel entitled, "Beautiful Texas."
No, far from it. What little Destiny experienced on May 13, was the ugly, sinister and deadly side of Texas. It was an evil hatched and belched out of the pits of hell with roots embedded deep into Texas law and sadistic traditions. Destiny was not the first to die from Corporal Punishment and she won't be the last unless new laws are written.
People start out to give what many call, "A simple spanking" but once the hitting starts things can happen. People lose their temper and the violence escalates. They don't realize they are seriously injuring or killing the child until it is too late.
With all the alcohol and drug use and all of the child killings around us, it is unthinkable and criminal to continue to empower parents and schools with the right to use paddles, belts, canes and whatever to hit children with. These are dangerous weapons as the facts clearly show.
Little Destiny is dead because Texas law did not protect her. Oh yes, the grandmother did the hitting and she will pay for it only because the child died. However, there is no doubt in my mind that the hitting would never have started in the first place except for the fact that Texas law allowed it to start, weapons and all.
We have been warned about this for years, beginning with Dr. David Gil of Brandeis University who was commissioned by Health, Education, and Welfare to do a national study to determine what was causing the high incidence of child abuse and how to stop it.
His conclusion was that the approval of corporal punishment by society influences people to use it and it ends up with a child being slammed into a wall, suffering a skull fracture, broken arm, or even death He said if corporal punishment was frowned upon people would be reluctant to use it.
Dr Gil believed that to legally outlaw corporal punishment in the schools would be a very positive step to take. Many people look to the schools to set an example.
We are now at the point of emergency where we must deal with corporal punishment in all areas of our culture.
Also, we can no longer push under the rug the fact that more people than we would like to admit use spankings to satisfy their sexual lust.
Only a few months ago the FBI uncovered a ring of parents who video taped their own children being spanked stark naked. Parents would then watch these videos while having sex of some kind.
The parents also exchanged videos with each other for extra "enjoyment." One child was permanently injured.
These creeps would really like to see HB 374 become law or have videos or hear stories about Texas school whippings as well as parent whippings. May God have mercy on us and the children of Texas.
Senator, I have lived in Texas for many years as a private music teacher and musician. I have worked with kids in music, sports and entertainment. I deeply love my family, friends, and the people of this state, and I don't like what I see happening around me.
Would you please give deep consideration to author or sponsor a law to outlaw corporal punishment in our state? Twenty-eight states have already made it illegal in the schools and more are set to follow suit. I hope you will be aggressive and outspoken for the children of our state.
If you do author a law to outlaw corporal punishment, I hope you will consider naming it, "Destiny's Law".
2015 Whitedove Drive
Dallas, TX 75224
Texas Senate Jurisprudence Committee: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/senate/commit/c550/c550.htm
Short version of the above letter as e-mailed to the Senate Jurisprudence Committee, 5-28-03.
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