Robert Fathman's letter to the Texarkana Gazette
April 25, 2003

Dear Editor:

It is just incredible that the Genoa, AR School Board would decide that slapping a child in the face and arm, another in the head, two more third graders on the arms, and squeezing the face of a fifth child "does not constitute corporal punishment." In exonerating the teacher who did this action, the Board and administration must be getting ready to publish a new dictionary of the English language. Or perhaps they are related to the former information minister of Iraq who was equally adept at sidestepping the truth in some delusional belief in the ignorance of the listeners.

Slapping, hitting, squeezing faces do indeed constitute corporal punishment, there is just no gray area here at all. In their attempt to avoid disciplining an errant teacher, the Board went further, deciding that it is apparently ok to strike children in Genoa schools if the hitter has "no criminal attempt to do harm," in the words of the Board President. So, in Genoa, if a husband knocks his wife around but he meant well, is that ok? If a nursing home attendant merely slaps a senile grandma a few times, and painfully squeezes her face, but says he meant no harm, is that acceptable in Genoa?

Educators in 28 states successfully teach children without hitting them. Corporal punishment is banned there, as it is in nearly every developed country in the world, In Little Rock, Austin, and many other cities in both states. Is there some pressing need in Genoa to hit children in schools and school busses? Are the teachers there not capable of educating without hitting? Does the School Board need to take another look at protecting children there, or should they just resign these positions of trust?

Good school discipline is instilled in the mind, not the behind.

Robert E. Fathman, Ph.D., President
National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools
5805 Tarton Circle N.
Dublin, Ohio 43017
o: 614-766-6688 h: 614-798-0031

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