Dr. Robert E. Fathman's letter to the Dayton Daily News re: Ohio school paddlers' civil immunity
June 26, 2004

Letters to the Editor
Dayton Daily News

Dear Editor:

The article [6/26] about State Representative Keith Faber's bill that will allow every school employee to use corporal punishment on children with complete immunity [and impunity?] is frightening! Faber is quoted as saying that the bill will allow employees to hit hard enough to "leave a paddle print" on a child, and his law "might" even allow a teacher to break a child's arm with no fear of the court system. "Paddle prints?" Is that a medical term? Does the man mean it's ok for educators to bruise children?

Faber failed to tell the reporter that the Federal No Child Left Behind Act already gave teachers and administrators immunity from civil suits for actions they take in disciplining students. But Congress at least excluded injuries inflicted on children subjected to corporal punishment. Faber refused to insert such an exemption, making it open season on children in this state if the bill passes the Senate. He also didn't tell the reporter that his bill exceeds what Congress did by including in the immunity not just teachers and administrators, but he included ALL school employees AND volunteers! If this shameful piece of legislation passes the Senate and isn't vetoed by the Governor, bus drivers, lunchroom aides, volunteer coach assistants, cheerleader advisors, secretaries, bus mechanics and others will all have the ok to cause injuries when disciplining kids "as long as they don't rise to the level of child endangerment." Endangerment is a tough standard to prove, and will allow many, many injuries to children, while clogging the courts with cases and allowing judges and appeals courts to further define what this term means. The bill is a make-work-for-lawyers bill [...uh, Faber is an attorney, right?] Children will suffer, and their parents will have their ability to protect their children eroded.

The Ohio Senate and Governor Taft need to do the research on this bill that the House failed to do, and give it an "F." While they are at it, let's replace it with a bill that bans physical punishment of school children. Pennsylvania will become the 29th state to do so later this year, leaving Ohio in the company of Mississippi, Arkansas and other states mostly in the Deep South that have failed to educate children without hitting them.

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

See related Making Ohio Schools Safe for Child Beaters
See related Laura A. Bischoff's "State may ease paddling rules -- Bill would remove threat of lawsuits"
See related Jordan Riak's letter to the Dayton Daily News
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