IN MEMORIAM... A fifth grader at the Eagle Lake school in Edwardsburg, Michigan, Michael was cheerful, active, and well liked in spite of the many adversities he faced. One of his legs was an inch shorter than the other--the result of his bout with meningitis at six months of age. Although he was still wearing a leg brace at 10, his balance was poor and he had a pronounced limp. He was also taking medication for a "learning problem" and had previously had heart surgery. His medical report in the school files showed that he was not to engage in strenuous contact sports and that he should be allowed to pace himself and rest as needed.
One day, Michael was slow to line up after recess. In response, according to his friends, the teacher told him to do "the gut run," which meant running across some rough terrain to a tree and back to the school, a distance of about 1,000 feet. (Students who took longer than two minutes to run the course were routinely told to do it again.) When Michael was told to do the run, he claimed he was unable to; but his protest was ignored, he attempted the run, and he collapsed and died in the effort. School officials said that Michael died while playing touch football during recess, but his fellow students told their parents and newspaper reporters that this was a lie and that Michael had died from the punitive gut run.
When the Waechters tried to affix blame for their son's death, they encountered an all-too-common problem: county and state child-abuse and education authorities refused to investigate, and the local prosecutor refused to press charges...
Source: "Child Abuse in Our Schools," By Robert Fathman, Ph.D., Mothering, Winter, 1991. Read Dr. Fathman's article in its entirety.
- Open Letter to California Educators
about the Use of Forced Exercise as Punishment By Jordan Riak
- Position Statement on the Use of Physical Activity as Punishment
by the California Association for Health, Physical Education,
Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD)
- A letter about exercise as punishment from Kathryn Scott, President of the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD) to Bill Honig, Superindentent, California State Department of Education.
- A letter about exercise as punishment from Linda Carpenter, Ph.D., J.D., Professor, Department of Physical Education, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York to Bill Honig, Superintendent, California State Department of Education.
- A letter about exercise as punishment from Bonnie Mohnsen, Ph.D., Coordinator, Physical Education/Health Education-Nutrition, Montebello Unified School District, Intructional Services Division, Montebello, Ca. to Bill Honig, Superintendent, California State Department of Education
- A letter about exercise as punishment from Jean L. Perry, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Physical Education, San Francisco State University to Bill Honig, Superintendent, California State Department of Education.
- Jordan Riak's letter of 11/1/89 to Attorney General Van De Kamp requesting clarification of the corporal punishment ban with regard to exercise as punishment
- Attorney General Van De Kamp's response of 11/13/89 to Jordan Riak
- Jordan Riak's response of 11/22/89 to Attorney General Van De Kamp
- Attorney General Van De Kamp's response of 12/1/89 to Jordan Riak
- Memo of September 7, 1989 from Mary Weaver to Milton Wilson, both Education Department employees, regarding the challenge of revising the "Corporal Punishment Advisory" so that it no longer forbids exercise as punishment but warns against it.
- State, coaches can offer no alternative to pain, sweat By John Bogert, South Bay Daily Breeze, Torrance, CA, July 13, 1989
- A letter to the editor about a violent coach, forced exercise and near death, News & Observer, Raleigh, NC, March 18, 1992
- Violent coaching in Seymour, Texas Correspondence received by PTAVE in March 1989 from two parents describing the mistreatment of their sons.
- The Coach and the Fat Kid, Editorial from the Canyon News, Texas, 1977
- Forced exercise at the Bay County (FL) Boot Camp and the death of Martin Lee Anderson WARNING: The 8-minute video clip on this page showing the fatal abuse of a teenager may be deeply disturbing to some viewers. Do not play it if children are present.
Be sure to visit The Newsroom
Violence toward children in the classroom