Letter to Editor of Malvern Daily Record re: coach who paddled, bruised child
By Robert Fathman, Ph.D.
April 5, 2004

Dear Editor:

I hope that the special judge appointed to hear the case of the Malvern Junior High coach who inflicted welts and bruises when paddling a child issues a ruling that gives children the same protection from battery that wives, nursing home residents, and even animals have.

Coach Russell's defense attorney called the week-long bruises "transient injury that was appropriate." Yikes! He wants the Court to rule that it is "appropriate" to "transiently injure" school children? Just how transient is ok for the attorney? A broken leg will heal, so I guess that makes it a "transient" injury? Where do we draw the line if we start allowing educators to injure children in ways that are not allowed for parents to do?

There is another culpable body in this case, the Board of Education. Teachers in 28 states and in thousands of school districts in the remaining 22 successfully educate children without allowing teachers and coaches to hit children with boards. Are children in Malvern so different from these children all over the United States that they can only have classroom order if they are hit or threatened with it? Of course not, kids are the same all over, and Malvern educators are just as capable of teaching without hitting. It is time for the School Board to enact a policy which allows use of reasonable force only to prevent immediate threats of harm to person or property, but to prohibit use of corporal punishment as a method of discipline. Good school discipline is instilled in the mind, not the behind.

Robert Fathman, Ph.D., President
National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools

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