Presentation to the Robeson County School Board, NC, By The Hitting Stops Here! and PTAVE, September 8, 2008

There is a universal truth that applies to parenthood throughout the animal kingdom: PROTECT YOUR OFFSPRING FROM HARM! That rule has special meaning for parents whose children attend schools in this district. Let me explain. There is a schoolchild here whose parents sent a letter to the school with instructions that she not be paddled Their request was ignored. She was paddled anyway. Apparently the mere act of enrolling one's child in a school in this district automatically nullifies one's parental authority and cancels one's duties under the laws of nature. Maybe the school answers to some higher authority. By the time those parents learned what had happened, it was too late. The girl had already been paddled.

Before I proceed, let's be clear about what was really done to her. Let's skip the cute language. "Paddling?" We're not talking about canoeing up the lazy river here. That child was forced to submit to a beating with a wooden board applied to a region close to her genitals. In case you don't know it, the buttocks are a secondary erogenous zone. If you think I am exaggerating, just try doing the same thing to an adult and see what happens. You'll be arrested and charged with aggravated sexual battery which is a felony. But In Robeson County schools, it's just "paddling." Happens every day. Teaches kids right from wrong. Never did anybody any harm. Right?

Now, let me tell you what it really does.

Paddling teaches children that the adults in charge have the right to inflict pain and fear in order to force compliance. That paves the way for predators. A child who submits to a paddling on Monday is not likely to say "no" to a molester on Tuesday. One Robeson teacher, trying to calm a terrified child she intended to paddle, gave him a friendly cuddle, and promised that it wouldn't really hurt. A pedophile couldn't have said it better.

Last week a teacher at St. Paul High School put a 16-year-old girl in a choke hold while twisting her arm behind her back. The teacher warned her that if she so much as touched him, hed send her to jail. That girl is diagnosis as developmentally disabled. More relevant here, perhaps, is a diagnosis of the teacher.

Another Robeson teacher brandished her paddle in front of her entire kindergarten class warning them that this is what they'll get on their bottoms if they misbehave. Imagine the effect on kindergarteners! What reasonable parent would knowingly place a child in such a toxic environment? The destructive effects of chronic fear on the developing human brain are well known.

At the August 20th school board meeting, Member Tony Jenkins expressed his strong opposition to corporal punishment. He said that under no circumstances would he give permission to a teacher to lay one finger on his child. Board Member John Campbell, also voiced opposition to corporal punishment. But what was on the minds of the remaining board members who were silent throughout the discussion? Haven't they noticed that corporal punishment has long since disappeared from well-run schools throughout the modern world?

The Robeson County Board of Education has to make a choice.

It can choose to do nothing. In that case, we'll widely publicize victims' complaints. We'll give them a voice. We'll encourage them to file lawsuits against the district for exposing children to injury. We'll hold up the district as an example of educational backwardness and urge Robeson County voters to exercise better judgment in their selection of future school board members.

Or the board can do the right thing. It can make Robeson County schools weapons-free and begin the serious task of establishing and maintaining a high standard for all teachers. The choice is theirs.