Adah Maurer's Letter to the Houston Chronicle, March 29, 1997

Corporal punishment has been forbidden in all the armed forces since 1957. It had been a time-honored method of keeping discipline in armies, but it caused more trouble than it prevented.

It is forbidden in prisons. Criminals, even murderers, may no longer be beaten by their guards. Our American standard of ethics forbids such actions.

It used to be the practice to beat the "crazies," thinking to drive the devil out. We used to beat dogs and other animals, but no longer is this an acceptable training method. Even slaves, servants and apprentices were routinely whipped by their masters, but now it is forbidden to hit employees.

As a civilized people we have learned a better way: The carrot works better than the stick. Yet, children are still subject to legal beatings at the hands of their parents, and in 23 states, their teachers, also.

Childhood is the time when character is formed for life. Abused children may grow up to be violent criminals. Even minor abuse can cause angry retaliation.

Research indicates that states using the most corporal punishment also have the most prison admissions. Running away from home is often caused by abusive treatment. And in families who beat their children, the death toll is horrendous.

While the majority of families still spank their children, a growing number are finding that paying attention to and/or rewarding the constructive things children do is more conducive of good behavior, and lessens "elder abuse" in later years.

Does physical punishment keep order and promote learning? Quite the contrary. The youngest students become frightened and many suffer post-traumatic stress. Schools that hit the most have the highest drop-out rates.

Adults who cannot manage to teach without hitting are in the wrong profession. Parents and teachers of good will can find better ways to express their love. Parents must be made aware that you raise successful children - not with whips - but with encouragement.

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