CORPORAL PUNISHMENT: An open letter to the Union County School Board
From John Erker, in the Enquirer Journal, Monroe, NC, September 18, 2005

To Members of the School Board:

My family and I recently relocated from Long Island, NY to Union County, NC, presumably for a “better way of life.” Were we mistaken? Perhaps. Little did we know that in Union County, corporal punishment is alive and well, and widely practiced and accepted throughout its school district. What troubles my family and me is the mindset, the culture (or subculture) that we have recently encountered, the administration which believes not only that corporal punishment is not wrong, it should be heralded as a champion in “keeping our children in line.”

Now I know that it would be entirely foolish of me to think that the entire Union County School Board supports the use of corporal punishment. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to speak with any of you concerning this sensitive issue. I am fully aware that there is a temporary moratorium on corporal punishment, but still it remains on the books and needs to be removed completely and permanently. Please just know this. I have discussed corporal punishment with several parents of school age children, and we are all on the same page, and that is, we are both emphatic and passionate in our beliefs that it must be completely abolished, once and for all, on local, state, and federal levels. It simply does NOT belong on the books anymore. It is, quite honestly, beyond mean spirited. It is BRUTAL.

Perhaps what I find the most troubling is the fact that many supporters of corporal punishment wave the bible with one hand and wield the paddle with the other. Religious beliefs simply do not have a place in this discussion. Whatever happened to “separation of church and state”, or is that too much to ask in these United States of America?

If common sense and decency don’t come into play with respect to the severe cruelty of corporal punishment, then consider the legal and financial ramifications if and when something does go wrong. There is current documentation that several disabled children have already been victims of corporal punishment within the Union County school system. In this litigious society, a lawsuit or lawsuits brought against this county could be financially disastrous.

During the last twenty years of my life, I had the good fortune to proudly serve the people of New York as a member of the New York City Police Department. Although I have extensive training in the use of lethal and non-lethal physical force, it needed to be lawfully justified each and every time employed, and only utilized as a last resort. Had I used it on a career criminal for acting up on a street corner, my career would have been short-lived. Had I used it because a child spoke out of place or had bladder control problems, I would probably be writing this letter to you from a jail cell.

Please, please, please, abolish corporal punishment in the schools. Now and forever, for the sake of our beloved children. The time is now. Thank you.


John Erker
Union County, N.C. resident and concerned parent

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