Dialogues with Rep. Harold Dutton
April 2003 - May 2005



"My dad used to take a strap to me and go at me pretty good. If it causes violence, Id be a mass murderer."

The Texas Observer, Bad Bills, February 14, 2003

"What bothers me about you and your friends is that you know everything about corporal punishment and wish to impose your and your experts views on everybody else. If you don't like corporal punishment don't use it. But get the hell out of the way of others. Thanks."

Letter to Jimmy Dunne, June 3, 2005

"Being consistently stupid to relate parental use of corporal punishment to child abuse is fantastic."

Letter to Stephen and Susan Lawrence, May 28, 2005

"I DECLINE TO BE YOUR PEN PAL. Find you another toy. If you can't think of one, I'll be happy to suggest a body part."

Letter to Susan Lawrence, May 29, 2005

"Screw you. Explanation to follow."

Letter to Susan Lawrence, May 29, 2005

"Why don't you provide me the answers to your test? I am sure you can pass it."

Letter to Tom Johnson, April 16, 2003


Gov. Rick Perry: dwhite@governor.state.tx.us

Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

Fax: (512) 463-1849

Citizen's Assistance and Opinion Hotline: (512) 463-1782
[for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers]

Rep. Harold Dutton: harold.dutton@house.state.tx.us

Capitol Office, Room CAP 1W.10
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
(512) 463-0510
(512) 463-8333 Fax

District Office
8799 N. Loop East
Suite 305
Houston, TX 77029
(713) 692-9192
(713) 692-6791 Fax

Subject: Please VETO HB 383
Date: Sat, 28 May 2005 11:01:44 -0400
From: The Lawrences
To: Gov. Rick Perry

Dear Governor Perry,

Please veto the misguided bill HB 383. Adults should not make it easier to get away with hitting children! We need to go in the opposite direction, as all the research indicates that hitting children has many many unwanted consequences. Children who are hit become more violent, commit more violent crimes when adults, are more likely to hit spouses and elderly parents. They are more likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol. They are more likely to end up in prison and be a drain on society. Hitting children teaches violence. And it's no more effective in changing behavior in the short-term than other forms of discipline. It's lazy and inhumane parenting, pure and simple.

The child abuse rate in Texas is rising. Texas should be more aggressive in ending abuse, not making it even easier to get away with!

Please veto HB 383. Thank you from us, and from the children of Texas.

Stephen & Susan Lawrence
Arlington, MA 02476

Jimmy Dunne forwarded the above letter to Rep. Harold Dutton

From: Harold Dutton
To: jimmydunne
Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2005 8:31 PM
Subject: RE: Please VETO HB 383

Being consistently stupid to relate parental use of corporal punishment to child abuse is fantastic.


From: The Lawrences
Sent: Sunday, May 29, 2005 7:24 PM
To: Harold Dutton
Subject: HB 383

Dear Mr. Dutton,

Clearly being spanked a lot didn't make you a polite, or empathetic person.

You are ignorant of the facts about hitting children. According to the Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse, "85% of all cases of physical abuse results from some form of over-discipline through the use of corporal punishment". According to testimony submitted to the House of Representatives (E1032--Congressional Record) March 21, 1991 by Major R. Owens of NY:

"In most cases, fortunately, the physical injuries children experience are relatively minor -- some redness and soreness of the skin -- and do not require medical treatment. But the vulnerability of young children's bodies is such that the potential for causing more severe injuries is great, including hematomas, ruptured blood vessels, massive fat emboli, sciatic nerve damage, muscle damage, and brain hemorrhage. Every year we hear of children across the United States who are seriously injured and even permanently disabled as a result of corporal punishment. As Prof. John R. Cryan of the Association for Childhood Education International noted in a 1987 article:

'Adults plainly underestimate the amount of force they are capable of producing. Sometimes children are injured during even the mildest punishment when they jerk away and the blow lands off target, or when they fall against the sharp edge of some object. Eyes, ears and brains may be permanently damaged as a result of paddling. Whiplash injuries may result from shaking. Injuries from blows to the chest and abdomen are life threatening. Bones are easily fractured and even the slightest whack may produce a jolt to the brain through the bony spinal column and spinal cord, resulting in significant swelling or bleeding."

In addition, according to the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse & Neglect,"...the use of corporal punishment is intrinsically related to child maltreatment. It contributes to a climate of violence, it implies that society approves of the physical violation of children, it establishes an unhealthy norm. Its outright abolition throughout the nation must occur immediately." Finally, more than 40 national organizations favor abolition of corporal punishment. Here are just a few:

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Bar Association, American Medical Association,American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, Child Welfare League of America,National Association of State Boards of Education, National Association of Social Workers, National Education Association and the National PTA.

In addition, over 100 research studies have shown psychological problems, behavior problems, and learning problems from spanking. There is not one study shows ANY benefit to spanking, that cannot be achieved by non-hitting forms of discipline.

Why you want children to be hurt more, and adults to be legally protected for hitting them, is puzzling in the extreme. Perhaps you want children to suffer as you did, perhaps it's unnerving to you that children might be treated more gently than you were. Or perhaps it's simply the unthinking compulsion to repeat what was done to you, and to continue the long and dreary habit of whipping black slaves, even though slavery is outlawed.

My daughter has never been hit, and she is far more polite and empathetic than you are! And she's highly gifted, bilingual, healthy, happy, and affectionate. She says "I love you" several times, every day, to me, I don't ask her to, she does it of her own free will. I wouldn't dream of hitting her! I decided long ago, as a teenager, to never hit a child. I have kept my promise. It is sad and strange that you have not evolved, and moved away from violence to children.

I'm sorry you were beaten so much as a child. It must have affected your brains, children who are hit have lower IQs, research shows.

Susan Lawrence
Arlington, MA

Subject: RE: HB 383
Date: Sun, 29 May 2005 19:48:59 -0500
From: Harold Dutton
To: The Lawrences

Screw you. Explanation to follow.

From: The Lawrences
Sent: Sunday, May 29, 2005 8:05 PM
To: Harold Dutton; dwhite@governor.state.tx.us
Subject: Re: HB 383

Dear Mr. Dutton,

My my, saying "screw you" to a woman you scarcely know? You are living proof that being hit as a child doesn't make a person decent and respectful! People who were hit as children tend to be angrier and more aggressive to others.

You owe it to the children of Texas to read the research on corporal punishment of children (and do try to clean up your language, dear). Much of the research can be read online:

Professor Roy C. Herrenkohl, Mary Jean Russo, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA. "Abusive Early Child Rearing and Early Childhood Aggression." Child Maltreatment, 2001 6, 3-16. http://www.lehigh.edu/~insan/soc_ma/gradfac.htm http://nospank.net/lehigh.htm This research study found hitting children is associated with increased aggression in those children.

Dr. Harriet MacMillan, McMaster, The Canadian Centre for Studies of Children at Risk, University in Hamilton, Ontario. "Slapping and spanking in childhood and its association with lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorders in a general population sample." Canadian Medical Association Journal, October 5, 1999; 161:805-809 This study found increased rates of drug and alcohol problems, anxiety disorders, externalizing problems, and depression among adults who had been spanked as children. Even those who were rarely spanked showed higher levels of these problems than never spanked subjects. http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/abstract/161/7/805?ijkey=2f8e0e565ef4ba15 bda4901801b46153e1c32430&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

Eytan Bachar, Laura Canetti, Omer Bonne, Atara Kaplan DeNour, Arieh T. Shalev, Department of Psychiatry, Hadassah University Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel. "Physical punishment and signs of mental distress in normal adolescents." Adolescence, 1997, Winter; 32(128):945-58. Greater physical punishment was found to be associated with increased psychiatric symptoms and lower self-esteem. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop t=Abstract&list_uids=9426816

Allen, D. M., & Tarnowski, K. J., Department of Psychology, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. "Depressive characteristics of physically abused children." Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 17(1), 1-11. 1989 Found that children who are hit suffer more from depression, lower self-esteem, and greater hopelessness about the future. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&lis t_uids=2926018&dopt=Abstract

J.D. Bremner, S.M. Southwick, D.R. Johnson, R. Yehuda and D.S. Charney, National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, West Haven VA Medical Center, CT. "Childhood physical abuse and combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder in Vietnam veterans." American Journal of Psychiatry, 150:235-239 1993 Found that Vietnam vets who were hit as children were more likely to experience posttraumatic stress disorder. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/150/2/235

M.D. Haskett, J.A. Kistner, Department of Psychology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC. "Social interactions and peer perceptions of young physically abused children." Child Development, Oct;62(5):979-90 1991 Found that children who are hit tend to be avoided by other children, and were viewed by teachers as more behaviorally disturbed. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&lis t_uids=1756669&dopt=Abstract

E.P. Slade, L.S. Wissow, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management, Baltimore, MD. "Spanking in early childhood and later behavior problems: a prospective study of infants and young toddlers." Pediatrics, May; 133(5):1321-30 2004 Found that children who are spanked frequently were substantially more likely to have behavior problems in school. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop t=Abstract&list_uids=15121948

D.B. Bugental, G.A. Martorell, V. Barraza, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA. "The hormonal costs of subtle forms of infant maltreatment." Hormonal Behavior, Jan;43(1):237-44 2003 Found that infants who are spanked showed high hormonal reactivity to stress, which may alter the functioning of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in ways that, if continued, may foster risk for immune disorders, sensitization to later stress, cognitive deficits, and social-emotional problems. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop t=Abstract&list_uids=12614655

E.A. Stormshak, K.L. Bierman, R.J. McMahon, L.J. Lengua, Department of Applied Behavior and Communication Sciences, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR. "Parenting practices and child disruptive behavior problems in early elementary school." Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, Mar;29(1):17-29. 2000 Found that spanking and physical aggression by parents were associated with elevated rates of all child disruptive behavior problems, especially aggression. Parenting practices contribute to the prediction of oppositional and aggressive behavior problems. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop t=Abstract&list_uids=10693029

M.A. Straus, J.H. Stewart, Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH. "Corporal punishment by American parents: national data on prevalence, chronicity, severity, and duration, in relation to child and family characteristics." Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, June;2(2):55-70 1999 Found children are hit more often, and more severely, than is commonly perceived, or even recommended, by pro-spankers. 35% of infants, and 94% of 3-4 year olds, and over half of 12 year olds experience corporal punishment (slapping, spanking on the buttocks with or without an object, pinching, and shaking). http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/CP36.pdf

M.A. Straus, V.E. Mouradian, Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH. "Impulsive corporal punishment by mothers and antisocial behavior and impulsiveness of children." Behavioral Science Law, 1998 Summer;16(3):353-74 Found that parental spanking and slapping is associated with increased antisocial behavior and impulsiveness in children. The more corporal punishment experienced by a child, the more likely the child will engage in antisocial behavior and to act impulsively, despite high maternal nurturance. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop t=Abstract&list_uids=9768466

M.A. Straus, D.B. Sugarman, J. Giles-Sims, Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, and Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX. "Spanking by parents and subsequent antisocial behavior of children." Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 1997 Aug;151(8):761-7. Found that children who are spanked are more aggressive 2 years later. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop t=Abstract&list_uids=9265876 or http://www.unh.edu/frl/cp24art.htm

M.A. Straus, M. Paschall, Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH. "Corporal punishment by mothers and child's cognitive development: A longitudinal study." Research on a nationally representative sample of 960 children presented at the 14th World Congress of Sociology, Montreal, Canada, Aug.1, 1998. Spanking found to be associated with lowered cognitive development, and lower IQs. http://www.unh.edu/not-spanking.html

E.E. Whipple, C.A. Richey, School of Social Work, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. "Crossing the line from physical discipline to child abuse: how much is too much?" Child Abuse and Neglect, 1997 May;21(5):431-44 Found that "relative exposure" to spanking is positively related to greater risk for child abuse. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop t=Abstract&list_uids=9158904

Gershoff, E. T., National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University, New York, NY. "Corporal Punishment by Parents and Associated Child Behaviors and Experiences: A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review." Psychological Bulletin, 2002 Jul;128(4), 539-579 Found that corporal punishment of children was related to decreased internalization of moral rules, increased aggression, more antisocial behavior, increased criminality, weakened parent-child relationships, decreased mental health outcomes, increased adult abusive behaviors, and increased risk of being victimized in abusive relationships in adulthood. This study is an analysis of 88 research studies on corporal punishment of children. http://www.apa.org/journals/bul/press_releases/july_2002/bul1284539.pdf

J. L. Sheline, B.J. Skipper, W.E. Broadhead, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. "Risk factors for violent behavior in elementary school boys: have you hugged your child today?" American Journal of Public Health, 1994 April;84(4):661-3 Found that parents of violent boys were more likely than those of matched control students to use spanking for discipline. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop t=Abstract&list_uids=8154575

C.E. Joubert, University of Alabama, Florence, AL. "Antecedents of narcissism and psychological reactance as indicated by college students' retrospective reports of their parents' behaviors." Psychological Report, 1992 Jun;70(3 Pt 2):1111-5 Higher psychological reactance (feeling threatened) scores on the Narcissism Personality Inventory and the Hong Psychological Reactance Scale correlated with more spanking by fathers. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop t=Abstract&list_uids=1496079

C.E. Joubert, University of North Alabama, Florence, AL. "Self-esteem and social desirability in relation to college students' retrospective perceptions of parental fairness and disciplinary practices." Psychological Report, 1991 August;69(1):115-20 College women were found to view their parents as being less fair if they had been spanked by them as children. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dop t=Abstract&list_uids=1961778

D. Levinson, Yale University, New Haven, CT. "Physical punishment of children and wife beating in cross-cultural perspective." Child Abuse and Neglect, 1981 5: 193-195 Found that societies in which physical punishment of children is rare or infrequent, the existence of wife beating is also rare. http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/familydevelopment/components/6 961_01.html

D. Yankelovich, DYG, Inc., sponsored by Civitas, Zero to Three, and Brio Corporation. "What Grown-Ups Understand About Child Development: A National Benchmark Survey" written about in the New York Times, October 24, 2000. This national survey of 3,000 adults found that about 60% of parents spank, even though they concede the punishment is ineffective. http://www.zerotothree.org/Search/index2.cfm http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/yourchild/devnews.htm

M.T. Teicher, Developmental Biopsychiatry Research Program, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA. "Wounds that time won't heal: The neurobiology of child abuse." Cerebrum, vol.2, no.4:Fall 2000. Found a higher incidence of abnormal EEG tests (measure of brain waves) in adults who had been hit as children, and impaired brain development. http://www.dana.org/books/press/cerebrum/fall00/index.cfm http://www.mclean.harvard.edu/PublicAffairs/20001214_child_abuse.htm

J.F. Geddes, G.H. Vowles, A.K. Hackshaw, C.D. Nickols, I.S. Scott, H.L. Whitwell, Department of Histopathology and Morbid Anatomy, Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, London, UK. "Neuropathology of inflicted head injury in children: II. Microscopic brain injury in infants." Brain, 200l 124:1299-1306 Found that babies can be injured and killed from even mild shaking or hitting, primarily from damage to the part of the brain that controls breathing. http://brain.oupjournals.org/cgi/content/full/124/7/1299?maxtoshow=&HITS =10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&andorexacttitle=and&andorexacttitleabs=and&ful ltext=shaking+babies&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=1104436255059_1533& stored_search=&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&fdate=5/1/2001&tdate=7/31 /2001&journalcode=brain

M.A. Straus, Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH. "Spanking teaches short-term lesson, but long-term violence." Project NoSpank, July 24, 1999. Research of statistics revealed that the US states that permit the most legal corporal punishment of children are the states with the most homicides committed by children. http://nospank.net/straus7.htm

M.A. Straus, Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH. "Family Training in Crime and Violence." Crime and the Family, 1985. A study of 1,000 families found that parents inflicted nearly twice as many severe, and nearly four times as many total, violent acts on their teenage children than the other way around. http://nospank.net/males.htm

L.R. Huesmann, L.D. Eron, M.M. Lefkowitz, L.O. Walder, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. "The stability of aggression over time and generations." Developmental Psychology, 1984, 20, 1120-1134. Aggressive children often become aggressive adults, who often produce more aggressive children, in a cycle that endures generation after generation. http://nospank.net/greven.htm

D. Button, M. Katz, B. King, A. Simpson, D. Figuaroa, California State University, Fresno, CA. "Some Antecedents of Felonious and Delinquent Behavior." Research presented at the Western Psychological Association, Portland, OR, April 1972. Juvenile delinquents were found to have parents that used a lot of physical punishment. http://nospank.net/dewitt2.htm

A.A. Haeuser, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. "Swedish parents don't spank." Mothering, Spring 1992. Harsh beatings of children are much less common since the passage of the 1979 law against corporal punishment of children. The law has also facilitated earlier reporting and intervention. Violent crimes have decreased, and adults are considerably more optimistic about Sweden's children than a decade ago. Few minor infractions have been reported by spiteful neighbors or children, putting to rest the speculation that such a law would create chaos by turning minor parental infractions into government cases. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0838/is_n63/ai_12024682

M. Main, C. George, University of California, Berkeley. "Responses of Abused and Disadvantaged Toddlers to Distress in Agemates." Developmental Psychology, May 1985, p.407. Toddlers raised with violent treatment showed no empathy to others and exhibited violent behaviors to other toddlers. http://nospank.net/tots.htm

T.G. Power, M.L. Chapieski, University of Houston, TX. "Childrearing and impulse control in toddlers: A naturalistic investigation." Developmental Psychology, 1986 22:271-275. Toddlers who were observed to be subject to mild physical punishment were more likely to ignore maternal prohibitions, to manipulate breakable objects, and to show low levels of nonverbal competence 7 months later, than toddlers who were not hit. http://www.psycinfo.com/psycarticles/index.cfm?fuseaction=toc&jrn=dev&vo l=22&iss=2 (scroll to no.17)

P.M. Bays, C.D. Frith, S.S. Shergill, D. Wolpert, University College London, England; and Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London,

England. "Two Eyes for an Eye: The Neuroscience of Force Escalation." Science, Vol.301, Issue 5630, 187, 11 July 2003. Test subjects were found to increase levels of physical pushing force by an average of 38% each turn, when asked to return, in equal force, the pushing they received from their partners. People are not good judges of how much physical force they are using, typically using significantly more force than they believe they are using. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/301/5630/187 http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/301/5630/187.pdf

A.M. Graziano, J.L. Hamblen, W.A. Plante, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Buffalo, NY. "Subabusive violence in child rearing in middle-class American families." Pediatrics, Oct. 1996; 98:845-848 Found that 85% of parents surveyed expressed moderate to high anger, remorse, and agitation while administering corporal punishment to their children, and say they would rather not spank if they had an alternative in which they believed. This refutes the common admonishment to parents to refrain from spanking in anger. 1-800-422-4633 or 1-888-463-6874 to order issue. Not online!

G. Margolin, E.B. Gordis, Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. "The effects of family and community violence on children." Annual Review of Psychology, 2000 Vol.51:445-479. Children's exposure to violence can disrupt typical developmental trajectories through psychobiological effects, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cognitive consequences, and peer problems. http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.psych.51.1.4 45

Seventy percent of child abuse cases begin as spanking. http://www.extension.umn.edu/info-u/families/BE712.html Dec 1/03 Children who see violence at home tend to be violent Toronto Star - A Statistics Canada study finds that children who witness physical confrontations between parents or older siblings are likelier to bully, threaten or attack others. Eight per cent of the total population of children aged 4 -7 (an estimated 120,000 children) has witnessed such violence. The study could not differentiate between children who were reported as witnessing violence and who might themselves have been victims. Parenting practices were identified as one of the other factors that play a role in a child's aggressive behaviour.

Check Statistics Canada site at www.statcan.ca Witnessing violence: Aggression and Anxiety in young children for more information on the study. Spanking can lead to more bad behavior by children http://www.umich.edu/~urecord/0405/Sept13_04/24.shtml http://www.cheo.on.ca/english/pdf/joint_statement_29_09.pdf p.v, 7-10

Susan Lawrence
Arlington, MA

Subject: RE: HB 383
Date: Sun, 29 May 2005 23:40:17 -0500
From: Harold Dutton
To: The Lawrences

I DECLINE TO BE YOUR PEN PAL. Find you another toy. If you can't think of one, I'll be happy to suggest a body part.

From: The Lawrences
Sent: Monday, May 30, 2005 8:07 AM
To: Harold Dutton
Cc: dwhite@governor.state.tx.us
Subject: Re: HB 383

Dear Mr. Dutton,

I wasn't asking to be your pen pal, and clearly being whipped as a child hasn't made you learn to be polite to others. Stop your rude talk about "screw you" and "body parts"!!

What I'm writing to you about is your awful bill, HB 383, but instead you want to get abusive and rude to me. Read the research on corporal punishment that proves hitting kids is bad for them, and stop your terrible bill that will encourage more hitting of children!

Instead of looking at the facts, and being honest and gentlemanly, you are being absolutely disgusting. What further proof do we need that all the whippings you got as a kid didn't do you any good?

If you don't want to be my "pen pal" as you say, then why do you write to me, saying such rude, disgusting things to someone who is trying to help children?

I'm sure the governor's office, that I am CCing, isn't impressed with your manners or your language.

Susan Lawrence
Arlington, MA

Subject: RE: HB 383
Date: Mon, 30 May 2005 14:43:44 -0500
From: Harold Dutton
To: The Lawrences


From: Tom Johnson
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 10:37 PM
Subject: Re: What are the legal limits of corporal punishment in Texas?

Rep. Dutton,

If you'll indulge me, I have a few questions about what is allowed under the current law in Texas, as well as some others about your own opinion of what the law should be.

First, the questions about current law:

  • Can a person age 18 or over legally be subjected to corporal punishment in Texas, either at school or at home?

  • Is it ever legal for a minor to administer corporal punishment?

  • In Texas, can any adult be granted legal authority by a minor's custodial parent(s) to spank said minor?

  • If a male adult has legal authority in your state to administer corporal punishment to a female minor, can he spank her on the bare buttocks without incurring liability under statutes pertaining to sexual violation?

  • Is it against Texas law to make, possess, or distribute videotape of minors being spanked?

  • What limits, if any, does Texas law place on the intensity of pain that corporal punsihment can inflict.
Next, to get your own opinion:
  • Do you believe there should be a minimum age below which it is illegal to spank or otherwise strike a child (or infant, as the case may be)?

  • Do you believe there should be a maximum age above which it is illegal to give bare-bottom spankings to a child (or teenager, as the case may be)?

  • What limits do you think there ought be on pain severity? What other methods of pain-infliction besides spanking should be permitted, if any, and by what criteria?

  • Should there be a law against physically punishing a child while under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
If you are unable to answer any of these questions, I hope at least you and your colleagues will give them serious thought before proceeding further with HB 374.

Tom Johnson

To: twcj@bellsouth.net
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 10:21 PM
Subject: Re: What are the legal limits of corporal punishment in Texas?

Why don't you provide me the answers to your test? I am sure you can pass it.

From: Tom Johnson
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 10:37 PM
Subject: Re: What are the legal limits of corporal punishment in Texas?

Yeah, but I'm not a lawmaker charged with safeguarding children's welfare. It's not nearly as important for me to be able to answer questions such as these (many of which, you'll notice, concern the extant law of your state--which I'd hope you could speak to better than most).

To: twcj@bellsouth.net
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 11:21 PM
Subject: Re: What are the legal limits of corporal punishment in Texas?

Since you seem to be from anther state and certainly not from my district, I don't attach much importance to you or your test.

From: Tom Johnson
To: HAROLD DUTTON Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 11:44 PM
Subject: legal limits of corporal punishment?

OK, I just hope you attach some importance to whether kids can be legally tortured in your state. Or how safe they are from, say, folks like these:

Chicago Tribune, Washington Bureau, March 13, 2002
Porn fighters break ring of kid-spanking fetishists
By Naftali Bendavid

WASHINGTON -- Investigators are in the final stages of breaking up a ring of child-pornography enthusiasts in the United States and Canada who derived sexual pleasure from the severe spanking of children. Nine people already have pleaded guilty, including one in west suburban Chicago.

Members of the loose-knit group, which investigators have nicknamed "the Spanking Club," harshly beat children--often their own--with paddles, canes or other devices, and then exchanged videos of those spankings through the mail, officials said. The videos also featured close-ups of genitalia and other pornographic elements.

Those who investigate crimes against children say they cannot remember another such case, featuring an organized group focused on the pornography of spanking children. In all, authorities have removed 12 children ranging in age from 4 to 14 from their parents or guardians.

`Brutalizing' the young

"What we're talking about, it was not just a little paddling with the hand on a kid's backside," said Raymond Smith, a senior U.S. postal inspector who worked on the case. "They're using paddles, whips, canes and severely brutalizing these very young children, sometimes as young as 4 years old."

Some of the defendants have yet to be sentenced, and other arrests may be made. But whatever the final numbers, the case illustrates a phenomenon becoming increasingly known among law enforcement: that the Internet has made it much easier for child pornographers to find each other and create and exchange material in violation of the law.

Five years ago, the FBI created an initiative called Innocent Images, sending agents undercover to stop on-line child pornographers by, for example, entering chat rooms in the persona of girls. These agents opened 113 cases in 1996. That jumped to 1,541 last year.

In the spanking case, the pornographers sent videos through the mail because it is difficult to transmit a 90-minute video online. But they often communicated with each other on the Internet, authorities said.

Veteran investigators said that even by the disturbing standards of child pornography, the activities of the Spanking Club were chilling. The films did not involve ordinary spanking, but rather beatings, and they included a clearly sexual element.

"Any time children are brutally beaten, it's the most outrageous type of conduct that we have to deal with," said Michael Heimbach, chief of the FBI's Crimes Against Children Unit. "It wrenches your heart. All the children's issues do, but when you see children being beaten on videos and their genitalia are being filmed, it's very, very disturbing."

Canada provided 1st break

Investigators' first break occurred in May 2000, when Canadian authorities intercepted a video mailed to an assistant school principal, David Wadsworth, and arrested him. He was carrying a phone bill that led investigators to David Patterson, a computer programmer in Dalton, Ga., who appeared to have been at the center of the ring.

A tape from Wadsworth's house showed Patterson "administering repeated spankings to four naked children, who cried out in pain during the prolonged beatings," said a prosecutor. Two of the children were Patterson's children, another was the child of a former wife, and the fourth was a family acquaintance, investigators said.

Patterson pleaded guilty and was sentenced last November to 10 years in prison. His ex-wife, Shirley Blaney, received 2 years.

More important from the investigators' perspective, Patterson agreed to cooperate, leading agents and inspectors to others involved in the group. Some of them beat children and made videos, while others simply trafficked in them.

There was Jim Nain, a railroad employee in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., in whose house agents found hairbrushes, a rattan cane and other items.

Teacher, nurse caught

There was Gordon Murray, an elementary school teacher in Brewton, Ala., who met Patterson through an ad in Domestic Discipline Digest.

There was Richard Roll, a male nurse and former scoutmaster from Jamestown, N.Y., who called his pornographic films "Rick Roll Videos."

And there was George Kelly of Lombard, Ill., who pleaded guilty last month to possession and distribution of child pornography. Kelly, 63, had been a volunteer Sunday school teacher at Christ the King Catholic Church in Lombard.

Kelly was creating spanking videos, investigators said, but they involved mannequins rather than children. During the search of his house, Kelly admitted to agents that he had manufactured and distributed simulated child pornography in exchange for "the real thing."

Kelly's sentencing is scheduled for April 19, and he faces a potential term of 70 to 87 months in prison.

Officials say they had to take down the organization quickly, rather than drawing out the investigation, because children were being abused. They do not believe there will be many other such cases, they said, because the group revolved around a relatively rare fetish.

Still, such people have a drive to get in touch with one another, and the Internet provides an easy way to do so, according to Smith, who heads the child exploitation unit at the Postal Inspection Service.

"They have a real innate need to communicate with others because deep down inside, they know what they're doing is wrong," Smith said. "But by communicating with each other and sharing experiences, it's a psychological support thing. It's a validation system. It makes them say, `See, I'm not so weird. There's a lot of other people out there that like the same thing as I do.'"

To: twcj@bellsouth.net
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2003 1:25 PM
Subject: Re: legal limits of corporal punishment?

Your arguments are becoming more and more idiotic.

From: Tom Johnson
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2003 3:36 PM
Subject: Re: legal limits of corporal punishment?

Try telling that to these folks:

The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), August 19, 1997
Dad could get jail for 'whupping'--Pleads guilty in bare-bottom spanking case
By Stephen Hudak, Plain Dealer Reporter

ELYRIA--Use the rod and you could go to jail.

Raymond Boyle could get two years in prison after pleading guilty yesterday to child endangering for spanking his teenage daughters with their pants down.

Gary A. Crow, executive director of Lorain County Children Services, said the case shows how blurry the line can be between discipline and abuse.

Ohio law permits use of reasonable corporal punishment, but prosecutors said Boyle's methods were a mental risk to his daughters, 15 and 13.

"It's not that he administered corporal punishment, but how," said Lorain County Prosecutor Gregory A. White. "He was way over the line."

Amherst police Detective Alex Molnar said Boyle, 39, required his daughters to strip naked from the waist down before spanking them last year.

Officials said one girl was spanked three times, with the first in January 1995 and the last in April 1996; and the other was spanked in April 1996.

Molnar said they confided the humiliation to a school counselor after the April incident.

Molnar said the girls were punished by their father repeatedly for minor things, including misbehaving on the school bus or disobeying his rules.

Boyle pleaded guilty yesterday rather than go to trial.

Prosecutors had planned to call a psychologist to testify that spanking the girls while they were nude posed a substantial risk to their mental health.

White said he doubted that Boyle would have been charged in Lorain County Common Pleas Court had he spanked the girls with their clothes on.

Although neither Boyle nor his lawyer, Michael Boylan, returned calls yesterday, court documents say Boyle did not touch either girl.

In an interview with Molnar, Boyle said he "whupped" his daughters with a belt, requiring that they strip because it added humiliation to the punishment.

He conceded this was wrong, the documents say.

Children Services said Boyle no longer has contact with the girls.Crow, the director of the agency, said parents often try to disguise child abuse as discipline.

"Ninety-five percent of the time we see child abuse, it's explained as an accident or [parents say,] 'The child was out of control. I was disciplining my child, and that's within my right,' Crow said.

While many parents and pediatricians consider corporal punishment an acceptable tool of discipline, new research calls it heavy-handed and ineffective.

The American Medical Association last week published research that suggests spanking has harmful long-term effects, including increasing aggression.

It concluded "spare the rod, spoil the child" was a myth.

Patti-Jo Burtnett, spokeswoman for Lorain County Children Services, said the agency suggests parents try nonphysical alternatives, like timeout.

"If you're unsure of where the line is, if what you do leaves a mark, hurts or humiliates, then you probably shouldn't do it," she said.

Boyle, who was free yesterday on a personal bond, will be sentenced by Common Pleas Judge Thomas Janas in about six weeks, after he is interviewed by the County Probation Department.

* This correspondence was prompted by Rep. Dutton's H.B. 374 which was defeated. His H.B. 383, along the same lines, passed both houses of the Texas state legislature and (as of May 26, 2005) awaits Governor Perry's signature or veto.


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