DCS mother still seeks paddling ban
By Jim Ashley, The Herald-News, December 6, 2007

Kristy Bowman is still angry that her son was paddled at Dayton City School in September, and on Monday asked the school’s board to “ban corporal punishment.”

Speaking during the public comment segment of the board’s monthly meeting, Bowman said her son had “received a small bruise on his buttocks after the paddling” and that he “complained for a while that his tailbone hurt.”

She said x-rays showed that her son did not have a chipped tailbone but did have “bruises to the tailbone.”

Her 5-year-old son, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, she said, “was paddled and I was not aware of it until after the incident one day when I picked him up.”

She said he now “has nightmares” and wakes up in the middle of the night because of the paddling, which was administered after the child shot corn through a straw in the school’s cafeteria.

Bowman, who claims she was beaten as a child, said that if parents can go to jail for beating their children, teachers should also have to go to jail for beating children because “it is a crime and it is child abuse.”

She noted that she corrects her children when necessary but that the punishment is “grounding,” not paddling with a board, which she called a “weapon.”

After declaring that she was a “mother against corporal punishment and will fight until someone hears me,” Bowman said she was taking her campaign to ban corporal punishment all the way to Nashville and the nation’s capital.

School board chairman Bob Vincent interrupted Bowman when she began repeating statements she had already made and asked DCS Superintendent Richard Fisher to explain the school’s policy regarding corporal punishment.

Fisher said that parents of all students receive a folder on the first day of school and that it includes a request for them to write a letter declaring they do not want corporal punishment for their child.

Some parents, he said, request that the school use corporal punishment because they “think it’s a good form of discipline.”

Board member Jim Barnes asked Bowman if she was aware of the letter to which Fisher was referring. She said she became aware of it two or three years ago but that parents should not have to write such a letter because “they are not your children.”

Board member John Heath said he believes corporal punishment “is a tool we have to have or the kids will own the school.”

Following Bowman’s comments, Tom Johnson of Tennesseeans for NonViolent School Discipline explained to the council the history of using a “disciplinary paddle.”

He said it was made to discipline slaves “without affecting adversely their market value.”

He also warned the council that someone could secretly videotape a child being beaten at the school and make it available on the Internet.

Among other items on the school board’s agenda Monday were recognition of Taryn Balwinski, a DCS graduate and current senior at Rhea County High School, as the 2007 Junior Miss Wheelchair.

Manny Carril, Rhea Family YMCA director, told the council he was concerned that the Y would not have enough time to relocate its child-care service if the board decides to tear down the facility and build an auditorium for Dayton City School.

The council assured him that he would be given plenty of time to find another location if it decides to use the property on which the child-care service is located.

And that particular property, the council noted, may not even be used for the auditorium project.

Jim Ashley can be reached at jimashley@xtn.net.

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