Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint's letter to Superintendent Thomas, Union County, North Carolina
February 24, 2005

Dear Superintendent Thomas;

My name is Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint. I am a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Judge Baker Childrenís Center in Boston. I am an Advisory Board member of End Physical Punishment of Children (EPOCH-USA). You may know me from my work with the Cosby Show. My professional career has been dedicated to improving the lives of children.

I commend you for placing a temporary ban on school corporal punishment in Union County Schools. It is my sincere hope that you will follow Superintendent Thomasís request to make the ban permanent at your March, 2005 board meeting.

It has been reported in newspapers that a disproportionate number of boys, blacks, and children with disabilities have received corporal punishment in Union County Schools. According to the Charlotte Observer (2-12-05), Union County educators in the 1999-2000 school year paddled the highest percentage of children with disabilities among North Carolina schools (U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights). In the 2003-2004 school year in Union County Schools, boys received 82.6 percent of the paddlings and blacks received 47.6 percent of the paddlings (Enquirer Journal, 2-14-05).Since blacks comprise 15.34 percent of the school population, it appears they are hit more than twice the rate of other students. These are disquieting statistics. How do you explain them?

The use of corporal punishment teaches children that violence is the way to solve problems. It is a message that is taught to those who receive the pain and those who witness the pain. The purpose of education is to help students become caring, responsible, and self-disciplined adults. There is no credible research supporting its effectiveness in teaching students to be caring, responsible and self-disciplined.

Corporal punishment is an archaic and destructive practice to our youth and has no place in our schools. I urge you to ban corporal punishment in Union County Schools.

Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D.

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