Peggy Dean's letter to The Enquirer-Journal
February 22, 2005

Dear Editor:

It is not new information that I am opposed to the use of corporal punishment in schools. I would like to make a few new points that have come to mind this week.

First of all, Dean Arp, the Assistant Chairman of the Board of Education, has told us recently that he favors the use of corporal punishment in schools for the purpose of continuity between home and school. I have surveyed most of the parents that I know, and I can not come up with the name of one parent who has ever hit his or her child in the pelvic region with a wooden board. I agree that continuity is key, and I am asking that my children have the same human rights at school that they have in every other walk of life. I do not hit my children with wooden boards in our home, and I certainly would not expect that any educated adult would embark on this risky, dangerous, degrading, assaulting behavior and hit any children at school.

I would also ask that those of you in the field of education stop referring to the act of hitting a child with a wooden board as “spanking”, for that is an entirely different action. To “spank” a child means to “hit with an open hand”. Hitting a child with a wooden board, which is legal in our schools, is also known as assault with a deadly weapon in any other walk of life.

I would also like to share some perspective on data that I have collected. Twenty eight states in the United States have totally banned the use of corporal punishment in schools. According to the Office of Civil Rights Data for the year 2000, which is the most current nation wide data, more students in Union County schools were hit than the total number of children hit in five other states, and this number came very close surpassing a sixth state. This means that Union County Public Schools alone is responsible for hitting more children than the total number of children hit in THIRTY THREE individual states, when you add these five states to the twenty eight states where corporal punishment is banned. Does this appall anyone out there? Union County students are not worse behaved than the children in thirty three states, are they? One principal alone from East Union Middle was responsible for hitting more children last year than the entire states of Wyoming, Kansas, and Idaho combined according to the last Civil Rights Survey. He hit more children in one year than all of the children paddled in the state of Colorado, according to the same survey. So much for “rare” usage!

The percentage of black children in UCPS is 15.34%, yet about half of those paddles swung hit the buttocks of black children. 82% of those hit are boys. Many are disabled. Look out if you are a black disabled boy in Union County, you are a prime target for this type of degrading punishment. Just to educate you, the paddle has its roots in slavery, making its mark on the bodies of slaves, because the property value of a slave went down tremendously with the welt marks of a whip or the like. The paddle was invented for this purpose by a white Virginian slave owner. How can any parent out there, especially a black parent whose ancestors endured this force of abuse, stand for this in the year 2005? Are Black children easier targets for abuse because the bruising will not show up as much as on the lily white rear ends of Caucasian children?

It is time to raise the bar here in North Carolina. The few, weak arguments for the continued use of corporal punishment are just that, few and weak. There is no justification for its continued use, and the evils and disadvantages of this are very plentiful. There is huge support in the parent and school community here in Union County to get rid of this barbaric practice. Parents who are willing to turn over a child to an aggressive school administrator are failing to protect this child from harm. It is up to this school system to prevent this from happening, hitting should never be an option for a child or parent to choose. Educators should seek research tested, best practice options to use in the school setting. We have so many tools that meet this criteria. Put down the paddle for good here in Union County!

Peggy Dean

Waxhaw, North Carolina

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