A message from PTAVE Board Member Tom Johnson
December 16, 2010

On February 28th and March 1st of next year, Prevent Child Abuse Texas (www.preventchildabusetexas.org) will hold its annual conference in Dallas. Although this organization has taken a position against corporal punishment both at home and at school, the question of school paddling – for which Texas is notorious – does not appear to be included in their educational material or legislative agenda. When I contacted them earlier this year to ask if they had any kind of information (statistical or otherwise) that relates specifically to physical abuse committed at school by teachers, principals or others in loco parentis, they were at a loss and in fact seemed a bit puzzled by the query, suggesting that school child abuse is pretty much outside their awareness (which would be consistent with society at large but more remarkable in a group whose central mission is concerned with mistreatment of children).

In order to counter this huge blind spot – and since I happen to live just three hours away from Dallas – I have decided to attend the conference as a representative of PTAVE and to set up a table with exhibits and materials related to school paddling. This will serve to educate conferees as to the reality of the practice (even in Texas, many people have no idea this is still going on), its typical severity, its prevalence in Texas, and the lack of legal protections in place to protect schoolchildren from its worst excesses.

Beyond providing this important information to individuals involved in child abuse prevention, the goal of this exhibit would be to assert the validity of school child abuse as a concern that groups like PCAT should address in a direct and meaningful way. While I don't expect them to declare that school corporal punishment is categorically abusive, it would be a huge step forward if they simply acknowledged the extent to which it rises to that level of severity and how unchecked it currently is.

The total cost to realize this effort is estimated to be $672. This includes $152 general attendance fee, $250 for exhibitor registration (at the non-profit rate), $125 for display materials and literature, $60 for gas (round trip), and $85 for two nights of lodging (two nights because of the early morning first-day set up; rather than stay at the hotel where the conference is taking place, whose rooms start at $117 per night, I'll stay at a budget motel somewhere in the city).

If you share my belief in the value of school corporal punishment being a visible issue at a statewide child abuse conference in the heart of "paddle country," please make a contribution in order to defray these costs. I don't take such an appeal for monetary assistance lightly. With few exceptions, my efforts against corporal punishment over the years (e.g., newspaper ads, out-of-town school board presentations, etc.) have been entirely self-funded and, relative to income, not insubstantial. Were I not currently in a state of underemployment, I would simply write these expenditures off.

You can select one of three options for making your donation: PayPal, JustGive or mail a check. To use PayPal or JustGive, click on www.nospank.net/donate-4.htm and choose the method you prefer. Both systems provide a box (marked "Instructions" or "Description") in which to designate the payment's intended purpose. Please type in "Texas delegation." If you prefer to write a check, make it payable to PTAVE and send it to PTAVE, P.O. Box 1033, Alamo, CA 94507. Write "Texas delegation" in the memo section of the check. For questions concerning payment, please contact Jordan Riak at (925) 831-1661 or riak@nospank.net.

Thanks for your support.

Tom Johnson,
Special Projects Coordinator,
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE)
(615) 708-1585

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