Two Parents' Letters from Tennessee
March 14, 1999

I have recently taken a stand against corporal punishment in schools. I live in a rural area of Tennessee and my two children attend a K-8 elementary school of approx. 850 students. I have been President of the PTO or Vice President of the PTO a total of 4 times in the past 6 years since my children started to school here. I have tried for years to justify this practice, but have come to the point where I cannot. I cannot even bear to volunteer in the school anymore due to the practice of corporal punishment especially on kindergarten and first grade students. I am a Registered Nurse, however, my career is on hold so I can devote more time to raising my children. There was an incident in this county last fall of an eighth grade teacher who paddled his whole class for being "tardy". One of the student's father's came to the school and hit the teacher. The teacher received a 3 day suspension and must attend discipline classes, however, I have heard reports that he has become more verbally abusive to his students since the incident. This incident sparked a debate in the editorial page of our local newspaper regarding the use of corporal punishment in schools. I responded to a letter written by a lawyer/reverend who was supportive of corporal punishment and the teacher. My letter was short and to the point that after spending a lot of time in my children's school, nothing bothered me more than seeing a kindergarten or first grader being dragged into the hall, begging for mercy and being hit repeatedly with a board, along with a few other statements about terrorizing not only the student receiving the punishment, but other student and parent volunteers like me. The teachers at the school accused me of violating their rights and betraying them and were extremely angry with me. Anyway, the Parent Resource Center in our town has scheduled me to lead a discussion group to address corporal punishment on April 8. I am seeking materials to share with people at the meeting. I have also contacted child avocacy groups in the area and plan to visit legislators on Tuesday. The handout Abuse in Schools is Out would be good and also Plain Talk about Spanking and whatever other literature you have to offer would be appreciated. Thank-you for your help.
T. R.

Information forwarded by Jimmy Dunne, People Opposed to Paddling Students, Houston, Texas, October 17, 2000

I am a concerned parent of 4 boys. My oldest is out of school now, but I have three more in public schools. My son was paddled in one of Tennessee's public schools. This child had a injury to his back which consisted of 2 broken bones and a compressed fracture caused from a 4- wheeler accident. The school did not comply with any of the instructions from the doctor and therefore I had to make 2 trips to the school to remind them of his injury and the conditions ordered by the doctor. One teacher was threating to paddle him for being late for class, so the doctor wrote out a statement telling them to give him extra time to get to class because he couldn't walk as fast as normal. Well the school decided when he was recovered from this injury and one of the teachers there paddled him for being turned around in his seat. he hit him so hard my child was numb from the waist down, this teacher told him to get in the class room and have seat, and my child told him he couldn't just yet. this teacher has hit 4 other students and left bruises on them too. I carried my son to the doctor the next day and he called human services but they would not respond to a school punishment so he called the police. We did have a meeting with the schools principal and superintendent but nothing was done to this teacher, the school could not find their records of the doctor's statements but I had mine. This teacher is still teaching and paddling with excessive force, but yet they tell me he has done nothing wrong, so someone tell me why a stranger can hit my child in a way that I would never dream of. I don't bruise my children but the school systems can and get away with it. This teacher did. No child deserves to be hit, what do adults get for doing wrong???? won't ever except a stranger having the right to do harm and leave a mark on my child.

A Parent from Tennessee

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