Letter to the Editor of the Houston Chronicle
By Jordan Riak
October 2, 2002

Dear Editor:

We can hardly afford the luxury of righteous indignation over the mom who pummeled her daughter in the store parking lot or over the stun gun-packing dad. No matter how ignorant or misguided they may be, they were, after all, faithfully following the lead of professional educators who, in 23 states, under color of law, routinely punish schoolchildren by "paddling" them. In fact, it could be argued that beating a child on the buttocks with a flat wooden board is demonstrably more dangerous than what the above-mentioned parents had done. If anything is a true green light for dangerous stupidity, it's corporal punishment in the schools. Until society, through its laws, judicial decisions and educational practices, owns up to its responsibility to extend to its youngest, most vulnerable members the same level of legal protection against assault and battery that applies to every other class of citizen, we're on shaky moral ground when we point an accusatory finger at abusive parents.

Jordan Riak,
Exec. Dir., Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education

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